These days it seems you can’t even drive to the corner shop without seeing at least one X-Trail on the way, and as more Australians succumb to the SUV craze, we were interested to see what the new N-Trek variant of one of Australia’s most popular medium SUVs has to offer
What is it?
The Nissan X-Trail is the Japanese automaker's mid-size SUV and the company’s best-selling vehicle of 2019. Smaller than the veteran Nissan Pathfinder, this family vehicle is available with 5 or 7 seats and in either 2WD or 4WD.
To test, we were provided a middle of the range limited edition 4WD N-Trek, which retails at $40,700 (excluding on road costs). Based off the $39,700 X-Trail ST-L 4WD, this special variant sports additional features like weather shields, a bonnet protector, Bose premium audio system, 19-inch alloy wheels and a smattering of N-Trek badges as standard.
What’s it like to drive?
One word sums up the N-Trek experience - sensible. In N-Trek trim the X-Trail is packed full of safety features including autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, sensible features that help keep you out of trouble.
However for a vehicle that promotes its advanced driving tech, the foot operated park brake seems old and clunky. At least the drive itself is smooth. Pressing down on the accelerator doesn’t coax much in the way of thrust from the 126kW 2.5 litre petrol, further highlighting the sensible-shoe nature of the X-Trail, but its no-nonsense motoring thanks to the smoothness of the CVT automatic.
Urban driving is all about tight manoeuvring, and I was genuinely impressed with some of the intelligent driving features such as the split view reverse camera, that not only provides a view of what's behind, but an entire 360 birds-eye view of the car’s surroundings. Captured using four exterior cameras, the footage is clear and enables you to view all outer corners of the car whilst parking – and thus help keep your paint intact.
What’s it like to live with?
It is evident by design that the Nissan has targeted this model at families – the heartland of the mid-size SUV segment. Big yet not obnoxiously so, the X-Trail 4WD is practical for city errands as well as longer weekend getaways.If you come from a long-limbed family (like me) you will be impressed with the legroom in both the front and rear, especially considering this isn't a full-size SUV.
Nissan might be a mainstream brand but the N-Trek’s leather adds a sense of class to the cabin while passengers in the front receive the added luxury of heated seats and dual-zone climate control. The entire second row is elevated and whilst I don’t have any mini-me’s to pack in, the backseat would provide a great view of the road for young kids. On the down side, headspace seems a little limited for taller passengers.
Nissan’s X-Trail comes with a very generous 565L boot capable of fitting bags for the entire family. Unfortunately for the N-Trek a hands-free tailgate is only available in the Ti variant, but smart key entry comes standard across the range.
Connecting your mobile to the Bluetooth is easy, yet the X-Trail lacks some of the modern smart phone mirroring technologies such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The N-Trek comes with built-in satellite navigation, however its graphics and user interface appear a little dated on the 7 inch touch screen – which is also on the small side in this day and age.
That said, drivers can view turn-by-turn nav instructions on the additional display in the centre of the instrument panel, which is handy if someone else is playing with the radio on the main infotainment screen.
Is it worth the money?
The middle-of-the-range 4WD N-Trek with its $40,700 (excluding on road costs) price tag, is well equipped with safety and intelligent driving features, and as a value-oriented special edition it makes a reasonable case for itself. That said, soft performance from the engine and that antiquated foot parking brake might deter a few buyers.
But let’s not ignore the fact the ST-L 4WD the N-Trek is based on is a decent deal in the first place. Personally, I question whether I would notice the superior Bose speakers and aesthetically I feel the X-Trail is better off without the weather shields and bonnet protector, therefore I would probably opt for the marginally cheaper ST-L 4WD and save a full $1000 off the retail sticker in the process. Either way, the X-Trail continues to satisfy those looking for a sensible choice.
Positives: Intelligent driving technology, smart key entry
Negatives: Foot parking brake, lack of acceleration, no Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto
Rating: 3.5/5 star