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Nissan's X-Trail has been a common sight on Australia's roads for getting on a decade now. An accomplished, high-riding family SUV, it's on the same list as the market-stomping Mazda CX-5 and upstart Hyundai ix35.
The new X-Trail is a recent arrival on our shores, available in 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre guises. It's got the new Nissan nose, a new interior and a slightly different attitude.
The mid-size SUV segment is a warzone and no carmaker can afford to make a mistake. And given the importance of this type of car in this market, getting it wrong would be very, very bad.
The X-Trail can be had with either a 2.0-litre or 2.5-litre engine in three levels of trim - ST, ST-L and Ti.
The 2WD ST starts the range at $27,990 with a manual transmission. Spec highlights include a rear-view camera, six airbags and hill descent control. The car we tested, the top of the range Ti jumps to $44,680.
Ti’s are exclusively propelled by the 2.5-litre four cylinder and Xtronic CVT auto.
Added to the basic ST specification are fog lamps, tinted windows, seven-inch screen, around-view monitor, sat-nav, DAB digital radio, LED headlights, power tailgate, sunroof, lane departure warning and blind spot warning.
Along with all-wheel drive comes a limited slip differential but no standard third row to make the car a seven-seater. All X-Trails have electric power steering, active ride control, active engine brake and trace control.
X-Trail's second generation is more of a wagon than its boxy predecessor. A quick glance in profile and it could be mistaken for a Subaru Forester, but a closer look will reveal a more resolved, better-detailed design than the Subaru.
Despite looking lower than the old one, the X-Trail is in fact slightly taller, but the more shapely sheetmetal has reduced the visual size. In Ti form, the LED lights are framed by wraparound daytime running lights that look pretty cool at night.
The new nose is a vast improvement on the Tonka/Lego homage of the old car, with a lot of the new Qashqai in the nose and more stylised glasshouse.
The bigger 18-inch wheels fill the arches better and further serve to lower the visual height of the car.
Inside is reasonably clean and built with the same care and quality as the exterior. Most of the plastics are nice enough but it all goes hard and scratchy on the centre console, with a silly, tiny detail like no rubber lining in the otherwise phone-friendly tray letting things down.
There's plenty of space for the usual family detritus, with bottle holders in all doors, a few cubby holes, a decent-sized console bin and a big boot with partitioning for hiding your gear.
The big rear doors open really wide and allow for very easy access to the comfortable rear seat. The CX-5 and CR-V both fall down a bit in this area, the Mazda particularly.
The new X-Trail has not yet been tested by ANCAP or EuroNCAP.
Nissan has fitted six airbags, ABS, brake force distribution and brake assist, stability control and hill start assist.
Additionally, all X-Trails have rear view camera and the Ti also has lane departure warning, moving object detection and blind spot monitoring.
The Ti's 7-inch screen features satnav, Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity and DAB digital radio.
The system is well laid-out and less baffling to use than other Nissan systems, particularly the Murano's weird unit. We had trouble getting consistent music streaming from a brace of iPhones but the telephone performance was good.
The satnav has relatively low-res maps but aren't any worse than those found in the Hyundai or Honda.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
The naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre four cylinder produces 126 kW (20 more than the 2.0) and 226 Nm of torque (26 more than the smaller engine).
The engine is fitted to a CVT transmission in the Ti, with no manual option on that model. Nissan claims 8.3 litres per 100 in the combined cycle.
Being an SUV, the driving position is high and commanding, with a good view forward. The seats are comfortable if a bit flat across the back for thinner types.
The X-Trail is quite different to drive than its immediate competition - it has a soft ride but with the ride control, keeps the body flat in enthusiastic cornering. The set-up is less off-roadery, with lower ride height and a much flatter departure angle than the old car. It still has a strong tendency to understeer however, a feeling amplified by the slow steering.
The engine is a strong performer but the CVT hampers getaway. Once underway though, the rubber band tightens up and you're suddenly surfing along on the torque. This is where the CVT begins to work - it takes the modest twist from the engine and hands you a decent mid-range.
In town it's a handy thing and with the rear- and around-view cameras, easy to manoeuvre on the road and in the car parks. It lopes along very happily on the freeway, with little noise to trouble passengers.
With a console-mounted rotary dial, you can also select whether you want to run in two wheel drive to save a bit of fuel, let the car decide or lock the centre diff if you decide to get squelchy or gravelly.
|Adventure Edition (4x4)||2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$13,100 – 18,920||2014 Nissan X-Trail 2014 Adventure Edition (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Adventure S.E. (4x4)||2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$13,100 – 18,920||2014 Nissan X-Trail 2014 Adventure S.E. (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|ST (4X4)||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$10,600 – 15,620||2014 Nissan X-Trail 2014 ST (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|ST (fwd)||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$9,000 – 13,530||2014 Nissan X-Trail 2014 ST (fwd) Pricing and Specs|