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Nissan X-Trail 2010 Review

ONCE - well back down the track - there was some scoffing at the baby SUVs, those soft-offroaders. Problem was not necessarily with the vehicle, more the marketing and the owners expecting these machines to follow LandCruisers through thick and thin.

Things have settled down in more recent seasons, more people aware of the capabilities and limitations of these machines. Some now go further into the rough, many offer a diesel option and most have grown in size a tad.

And, as eastern Australia is swamped by summer rains, as roads around here keep falling to pieces and puddles deepen, a compact soft-roader may be the answer to surviving summer in the city.

All have a certain amount of comfort and confidence as a small family wagon for conquering the elements, whether down a suburban street or up a sandy trail; as ideal for visiting country cousins as moping through city streets.  Nissan's X-Trail was one of the early contenders in this segment, arriving back in 2001. It was okay, maybe a bit loose around the edges and with a strange centre dash instrument pod.

The second generation, a bit bigger and bit smarter, arrived in late 2007. It looked similar, ie boxy, and came with upgrades including a CVT option and All Mode four-wheel drive system.  A diesel version hit the showrooms in 2008.  Come September, 2010 and there's some 20 rivals in this segment and Nissan have given the wagons a little extra polish.


Running from $31,990 through to $45,240, the latest X-Trails are on the money for value; indeed list prices on some versions have dropped $1750 thanks to a reasonably long model life.  There are eight variants with extra gear added for the refreshed line-up. All get a telescopic steering column and glove box cooling and heating for instance; all have air conditioning, keyless entry, air conditioning and trip computer. Added features on the top-line Ti and TL include rain-sensing wipers and auto (plus Xenon) headlights.

All in all the X-Trails match their competitors and have a more established name than some. (Toward the end of 2010 X-Trail sales were running fourth for the year, just behind Mazda's CX7 and about 5000 behind segment leader the Subaru Forester. There was also a fair showing for Nissan's smaller crossover, the Dualis as the sector continued to grow.)

Technology The X-Trail runs a deal of electronic driver aids for keeping the wagon on track. There's the All Mode drive system, allowing the choice between two-wheel drive, Auto where the system decides whether to send some work to the back axle and Lock where torque is split 50:50 between front and rear.

There's hill descent control and hill start assist, ABS, traction control and stability control. And the auto version is one of those Constantly Variable Transmissions - this one evidence that stepless whirr-whirr drive systems are becoming more refined.


Also becoming more refined is the X-Trail package.  Not all like the boxy, slab-sided style but it does (in particular with this second, larger-bodied generation) look purposeful. And the square edges serve a purpose when out and about - whether out among the trees or down the shops; the X-Trail is an easy machine to place, the corners easy to find.

Inside all those straight lines make for practical storage spots across the cabin. The rear luggage is larger than in the original and there's the clever false floor (with a wipe-out surface) with a drawer below.


On top of all the aforementioned driver aids that help keep the X-Trail on the straight and narrow there's driver and passenger airbags up front, side airbags for both and curtain airbags.  Good driving position, easy controls and good visibility add to the safety of the machine.


And the X-Trail is an easy, comfortable machine to drive, on tar or dirt. Perhaps not as plush in the drive-ride stakes as Renault's Koleos but comfortable and confident on all surfaces.

The Nissan turns in quick and easy and it's all pretty neutral when the All Mode's dialled in, allowing electronics to keep traction even across all corners. The system is quick and subtle at keeping the wagon moving.

And the CVT here - with six 'false' steps to play with in manual mode - works more smoothly than the systems of old. There remains a little more slur of the motor than with a conventional auto but gets the job done without fuss when mated with the 2.5 litre petrol engine.

Off the tar and into the boonies the X-Trail feels a little more robust than some rivals, a little more practical for adventure drives.  Perhaps some of that comes from the squared-off style but there is certainly a deal of confidence in the chassis, drive train and electronics to keep the show moving ahead.


So the Nissan X-Trail earns its right to be part of the compact SUV crowd with decent value and decent values. It feels bigger and stronger than some of its rivals, it is a practical and flexible wagon for all manner of seasons.


Price: $44,490
Body: Four-door wagon
Engine: 2.5 litre petrol
Power:125kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 226Nm @ 4400rpm
Transmission: CVT
Length/width/height: 4635mm/1790mm/1700mm Ground clearance: 212mm
Maximum towing: 2000kg            


Pricing guides

Based on 111 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

ST (4X4) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $6,600 – 10,230 2010 Nissan X-Trail 2010 ST (4X4) Pricing and Specs
ST-L (4X4) 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $7,000 – 10,890 2010 Nissan X-Trail 2010 ST-L (4X4) Pricing and Specs
Ti (4x4) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $8,400 – 12,980 2010 Nissan X-Trail 2010 Ti (4x4) Pricing and Specs
TL (4X4) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $8,400 – 13,090 2010 Nissan X-Trail 2010 TL (4X4) Pricing and Specs