May 23, 2012
Riding on a wave of success with its X-Trail, Nissan chose to tweak the compact SUV rather than re-invent it when it launched the new model in 2007. As a result the new model looked similar to the outgoing one until you got up close and saw the changes in detail. If you dug deep enough you'd find it was longer, wider and taller, with more interior space, but it was also heavier.
The 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine carried over from the earlier model, but had lower noise, vibration and harshness levels, better fuel economy, and its mid-range response was improved. The engine was a willing performer, but with extra weight to haul around its zip was dulled a little.
A turbo-diesel engine was added to the range in 2008 and it delivered the fuel-consumption savings motorists were looking for along with the smooth drivability that comes with a good level of torque. Those buyers who chose the petrol engine had the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT transmission, the latter with six preset ratios.
When the turbo-diesel arrived it came with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed auto. Final drive was courtesy of an improved version of Nissan's acclaimed All-Mode system, which offered three modes of operation; front-wheel drive, automatic or 4WD lock for off-road driving up to 40 km/h.
Gone from the cabin were the annoying centre-mounted speedo and other gauges, in its place a more conventional dash in front of the driver.
Problems with the EGR valve failing and oil leaking into the air intake are causing owners of diesel X-Trails some concern. Adding to their worry is that Nissan can't offer an explanation for it and don't appear to be able to fix it. The on-going effect of the issue is unknown at this point in time.
One dealer advised the owner to lower the oil level to prevent oil blowing back onto the air filter, but we would be concerned about lowering the oil level and what problems that might itself lead to. If you find oil on the air filter best take the car back to the dealer and ask for him to check it; that way your problem is on record should it develop into something more serious later on.
We regularly get asked for our advice about converting the petrol X-Trail to LPG, and while opinion is divided, we think it's best not to do it. Some LPG installers say it's fine providing you get the combustion temperatures right, but there's too much room for error for us to be comfortable.
Anyone opting for the CVT transmission should test drive a car before making their decision, as they're a different beast to drive and you need to get used its idiosyncrasies, one being the constant whirring noise.
There were some issues with the CVTs in early T31 X-Trails due to a bearing that was overloaded and prone to failure and Nissan replaced many transmissions. If you hear any odd metallic noises coming from the gearbox during your road test walk away.
We have also had some reports of chassis cracking around the towbar mounting points and anyone thinking of using their car for towing should check the towbar area. It appears it's a problem with the factory towbar, but apparently not with the Hayman-Reece bar.
Smooth all-round family wagon with competent 4WD system, but be wary of diesel engines and CVT transmissions.
NISSAN X-TRAIL 2007-2010
Price new: $31,990 to $38,990
Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol, 125 kW/226 Nm; 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel, 127 kW/360 Nm.
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 6-speed CVT, 6-speed auto; on-demand 4WD
Economy: 9.5 L/100 km (2.5L), 7.4 (TD)
Body: 4-door wagon
Variants: ST, ST-L, Ti, TL, TS
Safety: 4-star ANCAP
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