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Nissan X-Trail 2019 review: ST-L

Is Nissan's dated X-Trail still relevant against a surge of new competitors?
EXPERT RATING
7
Nissan’s X-Trail is a quiet performer. We drive the mid-spec ST-L 2WD to find out why consumers are so enamoured with it.

Nissan’s X-Trail is a quiet performer. Despite only mild updates since its 2014 Australian launch, the five-year-old SUV mid-sizer currently ranks third on the sales charts in its segment (and is, according to figures Nissan likes to quote, the biggest selling SUV in the world).

So, what’s the secret? What’s behind the X-Trail’s continued popularity in the face of a torrent of recently updated competitors? Is Australia’s populace wrong to be voting X-Trail number three with their wallets?

To investigate these mysteries and more, I hopped in a mid-spec X-Trail ST-L for a week.

Nissan X-Trail 2019: ST-L (2WD)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$37,200

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

Even after all this time on market, the X-Trail ST-L still somehow  commands a slight premium over its similarly equipped rivals. With an MSRP of $37,400 in 2WD form, as tested here, it competes against traditional opponents like the the Honda CR-V VTi-S ($33,290), Mitsubishi Outlander ES ($32,490 – with ADAS), as well as the more recently updated Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport ($36,090) and Toyota RAV4 GXL ($35,640).

So it’s not particularly cheap, although it does shine in some areas with its standard spec. Included are 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with DAB+ digital radio, built-in nav, dual-zone climate control, leather-trimmed seats with six-way power adjust for the driver and four-way power adjust for the front passenger, heating for the front two seats, keyless entry with push-start, privacy glass, fog-lights, and roof rails.

It would have been great specification a few years ago, but today phone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is really a must. It is undoubtedly pleasant, though, to get heated seats and leather trim at the price, which some competitors miss out on.

Taking centre stage inside the cabin is a 7.0-inch multimedia system. Taking centre stage inside the cabin is a 7.0-inch multimedia system.

You’ll also get the brilliant “EZ Flex” seating in the second row, which allows those seats to be reclined and moved forward or back on a rail.

To get LED lights, auto power tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, all-wheel drive, and the full-fat safety suite with active cruise, you’ll still need to spec up to the top Ti for petrol or TL for diesel, at almost an extra $10,000 each.

You'll need to step up to the Ti for LED lights as the ST-L model misses out. You'll need to step up to the Ti for LED lights as the ST-L model misses out.

On the one hand, this makes the ST-L’s spec list look a little underwhelming, but on the other hand, with leather trim, heated seats, and variable rear seating, the ST-L is still our X-Trail pick.

Our test car just happened to have a genuine cargo barrier fitted ($823),  which came in handy on a week where I was dog-sitting a rather large Airedale Terrier, which has a habit of jumping through into the passenger area.

Having the ability to keep the dog restrained while having variable seating in the second row speaks to this car’s family appeal.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The X-Trail is the definition of conservative design. It holds Nissan’s design pillars close without trying to shake it up with unnecessary vents, angles or spoilers, as some more modern competitors have.

While it might not win any awards for exterior beauty, it appeals very much to the quiet majority of consumers who don’t want their family hauler to draw too many eyes. Thanks to Nissan’s mild design language, it’s managed to date well, too, not looking quite as yesteryear as, say, Mitsubishi’s Outlander.

The X-Trail is the definition of conservative design. The X-Trail is the definition of conservative design.

This continues on the inside, where mild updates have kept the cabin up to date, if not cutting edge. It’s a cockpit which most consumers will be pleased with for more reasons than its looks. It’s mainly a medley of grey plastics, but a mix that’s reasonably tasteful, with strips of faux-leather and chrome highlights applied with constraint.

Nicer design bits include the big, legible instrument cluster and comfortable telescopically adjustable D-shaped steering wheel, which is common across the X-Trail and smaller Qashqai ranges.

While the interior isn't cutting edge, there are some nice parts such as a D-shaped steering wheel. While the interior isn't cutting edge, there are some nice parts such as a D-shaped steering wheel.

The multimedia screen is an older-generation unit. The touch interface could be better, and the layered surface seems to be susceptible to glare, despite being matte rather than a gloss finish. It’s clumsy to operate, but the presence of dials and shortcut buttons are big pluses for usability.

Much like the Qashqai which sits below it, the X-Trail has excellent visibility, courtesy of a big, unimpeded windscreen area, large rear-vision mirrors and a big rear window.

The addition of hardy faux-leather trim will be a boon for family buyers who will be able to simply vaccum this car out, without having to deal with spilt liquids or crumbs getting stuck in cloth seats.

Sadly, there’s no option or accessory for fitting tablets to the back of the seats to keep kids entertained, you’ll have to look to an aftermarket accessory for that.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The X-Trail doesn’t leave you wanting for cabin space.

Up front your essential practicality considerations are covered, including  telescopic adjust for the steering column. You also get nice, leather-trimmed soft-touch resting spots for your elbows on the door card and centre top-box, as well as ample leg room (although no padding on the inside of the transmission tunnel) and huge central cupholders.

You also get a bonus storage trench suited to a phone or wallet with a 12v output and USB and AUX inputs under the climate controls.

The rear doors open nice and wide to allow for easy ingress and adjustment of the rear seats on their rails.

Head and legroom is excellent for rear passengers. Head and legroom is excellent for rear passengers.

Legroom is great with the seats moved all the way to their rear position  and the transmission tunnel is surprisingly low, allowing an adult to more easily use the middle seat. There are no power outlets for rear passengers, but there are adjustable air vents.

Headroom is excellent no matter where you're seated.

Boot space is rated at a massive 565-litres (VDA). It’s smaller than the new RAV4 (580L), but bigger than the Honda CR-V (522L), and still one of the largest in the class. Despite being a large dog, my friend for the week had plenty of room to romp in the back.

  • The boot is big enough to fit a large dog. The boot is big enough to fit a large dog.
  • With the back seats in place, boot space is rated at 565-litres (VDA). With the back seats in place, boot space is rated at 565-litres (VDA).

Sadly, under the floor there is only a space-saver spare as opposed to the full-size wheel in the CR-V.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The X-Trail ST-L is available with only one engine, a 2.5-litre non-turbo petrol engine, producing 126kW/226Nm.

It’s a decidedly low-tech solution when most manufacturers are looking to downsize and turbocharge. While it has its cost in fuel efficiency, however, the X-Trail doesn’t leave you wanting much for power.

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine makes 126kW/226Nm. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine makes 126kW/226Nm.

The ST-L is offered only with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive can be had at a $2000 premium.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

A bigger, old-school non-turbo solution in a heavy car leads to non-turbo fuel-usage figures. Nissan doesn’t make outrageous claims, with the five-seat 2WD X-Trail rated to consume 7.9L/100km.

That’s not great, although not unusual in this segment. After my week of combined driving I recorded 9.6L/100km. I’m sure you could get this down to about 8.0L/100km easily, but if you carry around much stuff, or spend most of your time stuck in traffic, it could also easily go to 10.0L/100km and beyond.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The X-Trail is truly consumer friendly. It’s not an exciting car to drive, but it is totally fit for purpose.

The 2.5-litre engine offers a nice, predictable amount of torque, which will be enough for most family commuters, while the awesome visibility makes for safe journeys. I’m a particular fan of the big, legible instrument cluster, which – like its Qashqai little brother – makes it easy to tell your speed at a glance, without the need for a head-up display.

The steering is on the lighter side, which makes helming this mid-sizer around corners and into tight parking spots easy, helped by the 360-degree parking suite which, as it turns out, is more than just a gimmick.

This is especially true around the tight streets of the inner west, where it was handy to see exactly how much room I’d have to open the tailgate to let the dog in or out.

The suspension is thankfully on the softer side. It’s not as soft as the ultra-comfort tuned CR-V or the new RAV4, but it’s certainly softer than the sporty Hyundai Tucson or Mazda CX-5.

The ride is improved by sensibly sized 17-inch alloy wheels and the comfort behind the wheel is pleasant, thanks to decently padded seats – a consistent Nissan strong-point.

The ST-L model scores 17-inch alloy wheels. The ST-L model scores 17-inch alloy wheels.

The only surprise was how quiet the X-Trail was; with an older engine like this, I expected it to be louder, but in terms of NVH and road noise the ST-L proved to be quite refined.

The X-Trail doesn’t offer a particularly modern drive experience, but the fact that is so well suited it is to its target audience means its longevity in the top-seller charts make a lot of sense.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

All petrol-powered Nissan X-Trails have carried a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating since 2017.

On the active front, you now get auto emergency braking (AEB) with forward-collision warning – but without the pedestrian detection available on the Ti, blind-spot monitoring (BSM) and rear cross traffic alert (RCTA).

Lane-departure warning (LDW) with lane-keep assist (LKAS) and active cruise control are also only available on the Ti. It’s a shame there’s no option pack to upgrade the ST-L to have the full safety suite, and it’s also worth noting that competitors like the Subaru Forester get a full set of safety features from the base grade up.

Expected items include six airbags, the expected suite of stability controls, and ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outer two rear seats. The ST-L also gets Nissan’s “Around View Monitor” and a  360-degree top-down parking suite, with moving object detection to make parking this mid-sizer surprisingly easy.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Nissan has upgraded its warranty to five-years/unlimited kilometres from its previous three-year offering.

This is on-par with major Japanese rivals, and the accepted standard today. Kia’s Sportage is the one to beat in this segment, with seven years of warranty coverage.

The X-Trail requires servicing once a year, or every 10,000km, with service pricing capped for six years.

Each visit will cost between $234 and $459, with an average yearly cost for the first six years coming out at $319.35. You’ll also need to change brake fluid ($32) every two years. Nissan’s service pricing is pretty cheap for the segment.

Verdict

Nissan’s X-Trail holds its market share thanks to its family focused, practical design, its gracefully ageing design, and a dependable drive experience.

Although a multimedia update (touted to arrive in the near future) is sorely needed, the ST-L offers the best of the X-Trail range at a decent price-point. Just be aware there are more modern-feeling options with more comprehensive safety packages at this price.

Would you pick the X-Trail over a more modern alternative? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$38,265
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$28,490
Highest Price
$48,040

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
ST (2WD) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $30,990 2019 Nissan X-Trail 2019 ST (2WD) Pricing and Specs
ST (2WD) (5YR) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $31,490 2019 Nissan X-Trail 2019 ST (2WD) (5YR) Pricing and Specs
ST (4WD) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $32,990 2019 Nissan X-Trail 2019 ST (4WD) Pricing and Specs
ST (4WD) (5YR) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $33,490 2019 Nissan X-Trail 2019 ST (4WD) (5YR) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption6
Driving7
Safety7
Ownership7
Tom White
Journalist

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