The X-Trail is Nissan’s most popular car in Australia. Statistically speaking, if you’re walking through the doors of a Nissan dealership with the intent of buying a car, there’s a one-in-three chance that you’re going to drive away in one of these.
Why is the X-Trail Nissan’s top seller? To find out, we put the range-topping petrol Ti model through the wringer.
Updated for 2017, the Nissan X-Trail now sports a bolder front-end look with plenty of chrome embellishments on the grille, new bumper plastics, slightly tweaked headlamp details and new wheel designs.
The price for the petrol AWD X-Trail Ti version you’re looking at is slightly lower than before too, at $44,290. However, the amount of equipment it packs has increased, with autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control, an eight-speaker Bose premium audio system, hands-free powered tailgate, heated steering wheel and heated rear seats being new additions to this particular variant.
Mechanically, though, it’s not all that different to last year’s equivalent. A 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine is up front and makes 126kW and 226Nm - which are modest numbers for the segment – and a CVT gearbox takes power to all four wheels when the road gets slippery.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Though the X-Trail continues to be a sales success for Nissan, it’s now entering middle age and has to face down newer, fresher challengers in the form of the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Tiguan.
And in the face of that keen competition, the work done on the X-Trail’s mid-cycle facelift is somewhat modest. That said, it may be enough to keep it current in what is increasingly one of Australia’s most popular vehicle segments.
FIRST THINGS YOU NOTICE
A new steering wheel greets you when you climb into the 2017 X-Trail’s driver’s seat, and there are other minor additions like a leather gearshift gaiter to update what is otherwise a largely carry-over cabin.
It’s a good size, however, with plenty of space for four adults and decent seat comfort for all. Quality is good, switchgear is clear and easily understood and there was arguably little wrong with the X-Trail’s interior in the first place. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
One big change that you hopefully won’t notice is the now-standard autonomous emergency braking and, in the Ti-model we’ve got here, active cruise control and lane keep assist.
One other nifty feature is the X-Trail’s reversible boot floor, which means you can load muddy boots, sandy beach gear or pot plants without worrying about getting the carpet all messy. Once you’re done, you can just hose it down, flip it carpet-side up and pop it back in.
PLUS AND MINUS:
The X-Trail Ti has room for improvement when it comes to driving enjoyment. The 2.5-litre petrol engine has adequate power, but it’s hooked up to a CVT automatic that doesn’t feel as decisive or sharp as, say, the new CX-5’s conventional six-speed auto.
There’s also a slightly firm ride on the 19-inch alloys of this high-grade Ti. Perhaps not the best thing for a family wagon.
Meanwhile the new steering wheel design of this updated model looks and feels great, but most of the interior is carry-over and we wish Nissan had taken the opportunity to get rid of that intrusive foot-operated park brake – only the base model manual petrol and the range-topping 4WD diesels receive an electric parking brake, and thus an uncluttered footwell.
On the whole, though, the X-Trail is a pretty easy thing to live with.
The X-Trail is a safe choice. It’s easy to drive, spacious, comfortable and decent value. It doesn’t push the envelope – definitely not as far as mechanical sophistication is concerned – but it doesn’t need to. Punters have been drawn to the model for its no-nonsense approach and are likely to keep doing so.
And on top of that, it’s a mid-size SUV – precisely the type of car that Australian new-car shoppers are after. No wonder then that the X-Trail is at the top of Nissan Australia’s sales charts.