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Nissan X-Trail ST-L petrol 7-seater 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Berry road tests and reviews the Nissan X-Trail ST-L 2WD petrol seven-seater, with specs fuel consumption and verdict.

When Nissan introduced the first X-Trail to Australia in 2001, the Pulsar hatchback (and its sedan twin) was enjoying its reign as the brand's sales king.  It had been an Aussie favourite for years and was consistently in the top 10 sales chart. That was about to change - just around the corner the SUV boom was going to go off and that cute-but-boxy looking X-Trail would be ready to step in and take the crown.

The practicality and extra ride height that comes with an SUV won the hearts and wallets of Australians.  Now 15 years later the X-Trail outsells everything else in Nissan's line-up, including the Pulsar, two-to-one.

The X-Trail's timing was perfect. It was already there when the tide turned in favour of SUVs as some brands scrambled to come up with an offering. The head start allowed the X-Trail to cement itself and it's still hugely popular – in 2015 it was among the top 10 cars bought in Australia.

That makes the X-Trail's success sound easy – not at all, it's up against fierce competition in its segment. Traditional Japanese rivals such as Subaru's Forester and Toyota's RAV4 are both outstanding mid-size SUVs. Meanwhile the Koreans are approaching excellence with the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, and then there's the Mazda CX-5 which was born into the SUV boom and now tops the segment's popularity contest.

The X-Trail range has four-wheel drive and front-wheel drive variants, in a choice of petrol and diesel engines. The range kicks off with the entry manual two-wheel drive petrol ST for $27,990 and tops out at $39,490 for the four-wheel drive diesel ST-L.

The ST-L we have tested is the front-wheel drive petrol with seven seats for $38,090.

Design

When this third generation of the X-Trail arrived in 2014 it came sporting a new sleeker look, and while the previous gen's boxy body had plenty of fans it seemingly unchanged appearance was beginning to date.

This generation has a 75mm longer wheelbase than the previous model, it's also 30mm wider, 10mm taller, but just 5mm longer overall.

The second row offers plenty of head and leg room even for those over 190cm.

There's also a third row – which doesn't offer much in the way of room for legs, but that's totally forgivable seeing as this is only mid-sized SUV - how Nissan managed to fit in seven seats in the first place must have required some sort of voodoo magic.

Living with the X-Trail for a week felt like physiotherapy for my spine.

The cabin is modern and well appointed with a seven-inch multimedia screen and push-button start. The ST-L grade adds satnav, surround view camera, leather seats and steering wheel, power adjustable and heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and tinted rear windows.

There's a two cupholders up front (and these are warmed and cooled), another two in the centre armrest in the second row (these aren't) and six bottle holders throughout the cabin.

The X-Trail has a five-star ANCAP crash test rating. There's ABS, EBD, plus traction and stability control. It's a bit disappointing, however, that the ST-L misses out on more advanced safety gear such as blind spot and rear cross traffic warning found on the range topping Ti and TL variants.

The second row has two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether mounts for child seats.

About town

Show me the father of a 15-month old child and I'll show you a man with back issues. That man is also me. The constant bending and lifting of my wriggling toddler who refuses to go into any car seat without an edible bribe is taking its toll on my body.

Living with the X-Trail for a week felt like physiotherapy for my spine. Its ride height combined with its huge back doors provided a tall and wide opening. This made getting the little fella in seem more like opening the door to a walk-in pantry and plonking him on a shelf next to the muesli.

The second row has raised theatre style seating – it give the passengers back there a better view out over the shoulders of the front passengers while from the driver's seat there's excellent forward visibility thanks to set-back A-pillars.

The storage throughout the cabin is excellent, a hidey hole which came in handy was the trap door in the boot which gives you space for exactly one large fruit salad and a cheese platter.

The surround-view reversing camera is excellent and stopped me from running into a bollard and looking like an idiot.

On the road

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in the ST-L makes adequate grunt with 126kW and 226Nm. More oomph would be good though especially for when it's loaded up with family and gear.

Nissan claims that with the CVT automatic you should see fuel disappear at a combined 8.1L/100km in the two-wheel drive, but my average was closer to 15L/100km, which is probably more a reflection of my enthusiastic driving style. Fortunately the engine runs on the cheapest 91 RON unleaded.

The ride is comfortable and vastly better than the previous generation.

With all of the drive going through the front wheels it easy to spin them in the wet under hard acceleration, but the traction control quickly steps in to sort this out.

The ride is comfortable and vastly better than the previous generation, but could be more composed over patchy roads. Multilink rear suspension makes handling pretty good too, for an SUV – although there are rivals that feel a tad more dynamic.

On the highway the X-Trail is a comfortable cruiser and enjoyable through the winding country roads, in the city it's easy to live with in traffic and tight parking spaces.

Verdict

You don't become an Aussie favourite by chance -  the X-Trail is practical, comfortable, easy to live with and looks great. There's also the bonus third row which is almost unheard of in a mid-size SUV. But there's no rest for the X-Trail and it's beginning to fall behind the competition with other brands pricing their rivals SUVs to undercut each other and adding more value in the form of enhanced safety kits.

What's it got

The ST-L comes with a seven-inch display screen with satnav and surround view camera, there's proximity unlocking, push button start, leather seats (heated and power adjustable up front), third row seating (seven seats all up), space saver spare wheel.

What it hasn't

Missing the advanced safety kit found on the four-wheel drive ST-L variant such as blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

Ownership

Nissan has a three-year/100,00km warranty with capped price servicing.

 

Is seven seats in a mid-size SUV a winning formula? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Nissan X-Trail pricing and spec info.

Pricing guides

$20,999
Based on 396 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$14,588
Highest Price
$30,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
ST (4X4) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $15,100 – 21,230 2016 Nissan X-Trail 2016 ST (4X4) Pricing and Specs
ST (fwd) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $13,400 – 19,360 2016 Nissan X-Trail 2016 ST (fwd) Pricing and Specs
ST 7 Seat (FWD) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $15,000 – 21,120 2016 Nissan X-Trail 2016 ST 7 Seat (FWD) Pricing and Specs
ST N-Sport SE Black (4X4) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $17,600 – 24,530 2016 Nissan X-Trail 2016 ST N-Sport SE Black (4X4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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