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Let me guess. You're up to the bit where you're pretty sure you want the X-Trail. But there's that nagging feeling the Mazda CX-5 looks amazing, and the Toyota RAV4 will probably last forever. Then there's Volkswagen's Tiguan, which somehow feels like an overpriced, guilty Germanic pleasure, even though it only costs a little bit more.
The latest version of the X-Trail came out in May 2017 and it doesn't just look different, it is, with more advanced safety equipment, just for starters. We drove the ST grade, the seven-seater, front-wheel drive (FWD) petrol one with the automatic transmission. Could this be the X-Trail for you? Here's what we thought.
|Nissan X-Trail 2017: ST 7 Seat (2WD)|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
This latest version is a new and improved iteration of the third generation X-Trail, which arrived in 2014.
The X-Trail is a bit bigger than most of its direct rivals, so check to see if it will fit in your garage. Its dimensions are 4690mm end-to-end, 1820mm wide and 1740mm tall.
That makes it 85mm longer, 25mm narrower, and 55mm taller than a RAV4. Compared to a CX-5, the X-Trail is 140mm longer, 20mm narrower and 65mm taller. You can start to see how it finds room for the extra seats.
The updated X-Trail has had its face restyled with a new grille; while the headlights, fog lights and tail-lights have also had a makeover. The ST has been given new daytime running lights, too.
The X-Trail is easy to drive with good visibility all around.
You can spot the ST on the road by what it doesn't have rather than what it does. It misses out on fog lights, tinted rear glass, a sunroof, and roof racks. Apart from these things and the 17-inch alloys, it's almost identical to the upper grades, visually.
Inside, the ST has been given a new flat-bottomed steering wheel, which is perhaps meant to make it feel more like a GT-R. The cockpit feels more refined than before, yet practical. It's certainly not luxurious, though.
The X-Trail scores well here, because it's a big box on wheels that you can shove all your things in – including the ones you hold closest to your heart.
Boot space is big at 445 litres (these aren't VDA litres, though) with those third row seats folded flat.
Speaking of the third row, even at 191cm tall I can sit in those two back-row seats without my knees touching the seat backs in front, which is impressive. It's possible because the second row is on a rail and can slide forward.
I then tried sitting in the second row without sliding it back and found it to be a tight squeeze, with my knees digging into the front seat. But with the second row pushed back to its furthest setting I had a good 40mm space. It's not a Tardis, but it's clever.
Headroom is also very good in all rows, which is startling.
Cabin storage is great with two cupholders in the third row, two in the second and two heated and cooled ones up front. There are bottle holders in all the doors, too.
The bin under the centre console armrest is a good size, big enough for me to hide away my camera in its bulky case rather than leave it out in the open.
It's disappointing the base-spec ST doesn’t have tinted rear windows, which means we had to put up our daggy sunscreen for our toddler, but it's good to see there are air con vents in the second row.
The ST is the entry grade into the X-Trail range, but the seven-seat version we tested is $1500 more than the five seater at $31,990.
Standard features include AEB, which is a new addition, and there's also a 5.0-inch touchscreen, rear-view camera, roof spoiler, daytime running lights, six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning, cloth seats and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The X-Trail doesn't come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and that's a deal breaker for some buyers. The media system the X-Trail has is a weak point. I found it confusing to use and the screen in the ST is tiny.
The big 'Unique Selling Point' is this is currently the only SUV this size with seven seats. The CX-5 doesn’t offer it, nor do the RAV4 or the Tiguan (yet). And as far as price goes, the X-Trail ST seven-seat isn't much more than the $30,690 entry grade Mazda CX-5 Maxx, or the $30,590 base spec RAV4 GX. And it's less than the five-seat $34,990 Volkswagen Tiguan.
The seven-seat ST has a 2.5-litre petrol engine making 126kW/226Nm. The CVT auto sends the drive to the front wheels.
There are diesel X-Trails (the TS and the TL) but they are five seaters, and only the five-seat ST comes with a manual gearbox.
CVTs are impressively fuel efficient and Nissan says on the combined cycle the 2.5-litre should drink 91RON at a rate of 8.1L/100km. Our test car spent most of its life with us in city traffic, which saw it getting through an average of 11.3L/100km.
Here's the bad news first; the CVT is no friend of mine regardless of what vehicle it’s in; even Porsche wouldn't be able to make this technology work, so they don't try. CVTs drone on annoyingly and their acceleration feels glacial.
But the good news is that's the only bad news. The X-Trail is easy to drive with good visibility all around, and a quiet cabin. Steering is light and accurate, but a little slow.
Soft suspension leads to a bit of body roll and slight understeer when you push it in the corners but the trade-off is a comfortable ride, thanks in part to those high-walled 225/65 R17 Goodyear Assurance tyres.
The seats are comfortable and supportive. The rear seats are set up in a theatre style, meaning they're positioned higher than the front ones for a better view, and that meant my toddler could see out his window for the first time in a while.
The seven-seat X-Trail only comes as a front-wheel drive. AWD is handy for gravel and dirt roads, plus it can improve stability and traction in the wet on bitumen, but it's not vital, and does add weight and complexity.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The latest version of the X-Trail arrived mid-way through 2017, with stacks more safety equipment, but unfortunately most of it is only on the higher grades.
The good news is the ST has been fitted with AEB, which works above 5km/h.
For child seats you'll find two ISOFIX mounts and two top tether anchor points in the second row,
All X-Trails have scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating.
All X-Trails are covered by Nissan's three-year/100,000km warranty. Nissan recommends servicing the ST every 10,000km. A six-year/120,000 capped-price servicing deal means the first service will cost $232, the second is $339, the third is $232, the next is $429, then $232 again.
The seven-seat X-Trail ST is unique in its segment, but added to that, is an SUV that's practical and comfortable, too. The CVT is a weakness, but unless you're passionate about driving hard and fast you’re not going to be affected by it much.
The fact you can't have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a letdown – these are fantastic apps that make life much easier, especially on a grade without sat nav. Still, the many pluses outweigh those minuses.
|ST (2WD)||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$15,400 – 21,780||2017 Nissan X-Trail 2017 ST (2WD) Pricing and Specs|
|ST (4WD)||2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$16,500 – 22,990||2017 Nissan X-Trail 2017 ST (4WD) Pricing and Specs|
|ST (4X4)||2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$17,100 – 23,760||2017 Nissan X-Trail 2017 ST (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|ST (fwd)||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$15,200 – 21,450||2017 Nissan X-Trail 2017 ST (fwd) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||6|