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Nissan X-Trail 2023 review: e-Power


You're after a mid-size SUV under $60K, and your mind's made up.

You've been all over the 20-odd competitors in one of the most hotly contested segments in the Aussie new-car market. Along the way, hybrid power has become a top priority, but not a plug-in.

So, as it has for thousands of others, the Toyota RAV4 has risen to the top of the list. But, you might be waiting as long as 18 months to get your hands on one.

And this car has arrived. The Nissan X-Trail e-Power hybrid. Question is, is it capable of changing your mind about that year-and-a-half wait?

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

The X-Trail is offered in four grades, and the hybrid powertrain is now available on the top two, the Ti at $54,190, before on-road costs, and the Ti-L at $57,190. That's a $4200 premium over their combustion-only equivalents.

Once you've crossed the $50K threshold you should rightfully expect a decent basket of standard fruit, and aside from the safety and performance tech covered later in this review, the Ti comes to the party with 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, auto rain-sensing wipers, three-zone climate control, six-speaker audio (with digital radio), leather-accented trim, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and a powered tailgate.

The X-Trail is offered in four grades, and the hybrid powertrain is now available on the top two. (Ti-L variant pictured) The X-Trail is offered in four grades, and the hybrid powertrain is now available on the top two. (Ti-L variant pictured)

There's also auto LED headlights, LED tail-lights, daytime running lights and fog lights, 10-way power-adjustable (and heated) front seats, a 10.8-inch head-up display and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, as well as 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen, with (wired) Android Auto and (wireless) Apple CarPlay support, built-in sat nav, and a wireless smartphone charger.

Opt for the Ti-L and the steering wheel will be heated, the rims step up to 20-inch, audio is a 10-speaker Bose system, the power tailgate is hands-free, there's quilted Nappa leather trim on the seats, memories settings on the front seats, plus there are rear sunshades, heated (outer) rear seats and remote engine start.

Impressive in this part of the market.

Opt for the Ti-L and the rims step up to 20-inch. (Ti-L variant pictured) Opt for the Ti-L and the rims step up to 20-inch. (Ti-L variant pictured)

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Nissan is currently following a distinctly angular design direction, with the X-Trail sharing several of its sharp lines with the recently released Pathfinder and Qashqai.

Overall, it's slightly more subdued than those two, although jagged upper and lower light units at the front, similarly elongated tail-lights, and a conspicuously concave section along the lower part of the side doors make a bold statement.

  • Nissan is currently following a distinctly angular design direction. (Ti-L variant pictured) Nissan is currently following a distinctly angular design direction. (Ti-L variant pictured)
  • The X-Trail shares several of its sharp lines with the recently released Pathfinder and Qashqai. (Ti-L variant pictured) The X-Trail shares several of its sharp lines with the recently released Pathfinder and Qashqai. (Ti-L variant pictured)
  • Overall, it’s slightly more subdued than those two. (Ti-L variant pictured) Overall, it’s slightly more subdued than those two. (Ti-L variant pictured)
  • Although jagged upper and lower light units at the front, similarly elongated tail-lights, and a conspicuously concave section along the lower part of the side doors make a bold statement. (Ti-L variant pictured) Although jagged upper and lower light units at the front, similarly elongated tail-lights, and a conspicuously concave section along the lower part of the side doors make a bold statement. (Ti-L variant pictured)

And for car spotters the only things distinguishing the X-Trail e-Power from equivalent combustion-only models is a revised grille and its badgework.

Slick 19-inch alloys on the Ti fill the arches nicely, while the Ti-L's 20-inch rims dial up the premium, borderline sporty, look.

The interior is a screen-heavy environment with a prominent 12.3-inch multimedia unit sitting at the top of the centre stack. (Ti-L variant pictured) The interior is a screen-heavy environment with a prominent 12.3-inch multimedia unit sitting at the top of the centre stack. (Ti-L variant pictured)

The interior is a screen-heavy environment with a prominent 12.3-inch multimedia unit sitting at the top of the centre stack, and a same-size, customisable display sitting in the instrument binnacle.

There's a fair bit going on visually, but the dash layout reflects a sensible mix of on-screen functions and conventional buttons/dials. The seats, particularly the quilted Nappa leather trimmed examples in the Ti-L, feel as good as they look.

There’s also auto LED headlights. (Ti-L variant pictured) There’s also auto LED headlights. (Ti-L variant pictured)

How practical is the space inside?

At just under 4.7m long, a bit over 1.8m wide, and around 1.7m tall, the fourth-generation X-Trail's footprint sits squarely in mid-size SUV territory, and space efficiency is impressive.

There's plenty of breathing room for the driver and front seat passenger with heaps of family-friendly storage provided.

Specifically, bins in the doors, with enough space for large bottles, a deep lidded box between the seats (which doubles as an centre armrest), a decent glove box, two cupholders in the centre console, a lower storage tray underneath the console, as well as USB-A and USB-C outlets, plus a 12-volt socket and a wireless phone charging bay.

  • There are pockets in the doors with room for bottles, two cupholders and a slot for a phone in the fold-down centre armrest. (Ti-L variant pictured) There are pockets in the doors with room for bottles, two cupholders and a slot for a phone in the fold-down centre armrest. (Ti-L variant pictured)
  • Once inside (at 183cm) I had plenty of headroom and more than enough legroom with the driver’s seat set for my position. (Ti-L variant pictured) Once inside (at 183cm) I had plenty of headroom and more than enough legroom with the driver’s seat set for my position. (Ti-L variant pictured)
  • There’s a fair bit going on visually. (Ti-L variant pictured) There’s a fair bit going on visually. (Ti-L variant pictured)
  • The Ti comes to the party with a panoramic sunroof. (Ti-L variant pictured) The Ti comes to the party with a panoramic sunroof. (Ti-L variant pictured)

Only snag is the location of the USB plugs ahead of the gearshift means Android users will have to deal with a cable trailing on the console (Apple CarPlay is wireless).

Move to the back and the first thing you notice is the rear door opening to 85 degrees, which makes it that little bit easier to get in and out.

Once inside (at 183cm) I had plenty of headroom and more than enough legroom with the driver's seat set for my position. Shoulder room will be tight for three full-size adults, although up to mid-teenage kids will be fine. And you might just squeeze in three child seats, if they're a slimmer type.

It comes with a wireless smartphone charger. (Ti-L variant pictured) It comes with a wireless smartphone charger. (Ti-L variant pictured)

Worth noting the back seats (split 40/20/40) can slide forward for more boot space, or back for maximum passenger room.

There are pockets in the doors with room for bottles, two cupholders and a slot for a phone in the fold-down centre armrest, map pockets on the front seat backs, as well as another pair of USB outlets (again Type-A and C) plus individual ventilation and temperature adjustment as part of the three-zone climate control system.

Boot space with all seats upright is 575 litres, which is class competitive and a modest 10 litres less than the combustion-only X-Trail. Lower the rear seat and that volume increases to around 2000 litres.

Boot space with all seats upright is 575 litres, which is class competitive and a modest 10 litres less than the combustion-only X-Trail. (Ti-L variant pictured) Boot space with all seats upright is 575 litres, which is class competitive and a modest 10 litres less than the combustion-only X-Trail. (Ti-L variant pictured)

There are tie-down anchors to help secure loose items, the loading lip is nice and low, there's a 12V socket in there and the power tailgate is welcome. Extra welcome in the case of the Ti-L, where it's hands-free.

Don't bother looking for a spare tyre of any description, a repair/inflator kit is your only option. But towing capacity for a braked trailer is a useful 1650kg.

What are the key stats for the drivetrain?

This is where the X-Trail e-Power and its arch nemesis RAV4 Hybrid head down distinctly different paths.

Toyota uses a series parallel set-up which means the electric motor will power the wheels only in certain situations, typically at lower speeds, with the petrol engine doing the work most of the time.

Nissan's e-Power system has twin electric motors powering the wheels at all times.

The engine’s peak outputs are 160kW/250Nm and tricky variable compression ratio tech also helps balance power and efficiency. (Ti-L variant pictured) The engine’s peak outputs are 160kW/250Nm and tricky variable compression ratio tech also helps balance power and efficiency. (Ti-L variant pictured)

And its 1.5-litre turbo-petrol, three-cylinder engine is only ever used as a generator, sending DC charge to the 2.1kWh lithium-ion battery and/or AC charge direct to the inverter, which in turn powers two electric motors, one on each axle, hence 'e-4orce' all-wheel drive.

Combined output is 157kW/525Nm, although Nissan is at pains to point out the latter is only available with the accelerator pinned from a standing start.

The engine's peak outputs are 160kW/250Nm and tricky variable compression ratio tech also helps balance power and efficiency.

Drive is delivered by single-ratio reduction gear transmissions on each axle.

How much energy does it consume?

Nissan's official fuel consumption figure for the X-Trail e-Power on the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 6.1 litres per 100km, the 1.5-litre petrol generator emitting 139g/km of CO2 in the process.

Toyota's RAV4, even with a larger 2.5-litre petrol engine, is more frugal at a claimed 4.8L/100km.

Over around 270km on the launch drive, which covered urban areas, twisting B-roads and some highway running, we averaged 6.8L/100km.

Minimum fuel requirement is 95 RON premium unleaded and you'll need 55 litres of it to fill the tank.

Nissan’s official fuel consumption figure for the X-Trail e-Power on the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 6.1 litres per 100km. (Ti-L variant pictured) Nissan’s official fuel consumption figure for the X-Trail e-Power on the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 6.1 litres per 100km. (Ti-L variant pictured)

Using the official figure that translates to a range of around 900km, which drops to just over 800km using our real world number.

Nissan says it chose this hybrid configuration because the car drives more like an EV, that is smoothly and quietly, rather than a predominantly petrol car with a CVT.

It's an interesting point-of-difference and your priorities will determine if the extra consumption (relative to the RAV4 Hybrid) is a deal-breaker, or not.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Nissan is on the pace when it comes to safety tech, and the X-Trail is no exception, scoring a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was assessed on arrival last year.

Active (crash avoidance) systems include Nissan's 'Smart Rear View Monitor', adaptive high beams and auto rain-sensing wipers, as well as autonomous emergency braking - operating up to 130km/h (with pedestrian and cyclist detection from 10-80km/h), junction assist, traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert (with rear AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, driver attention alert and tyre pressure monitoring.

Active (crash avoidance) systems include Nissan’s ‘Smart Rear View Monitor’. (Ti-L variant pictured) Active (crash avoidance) systems include Nissan’s ‘Smart Rear View Monitor’. (Ti-L variant pictured)

If all that fails to avoid an impact, there are seven airbags on-board - driver and front passenger, front side, full-length side curtains and a front centre bag to minimise head clash injuries in the case of a side impact.

There are three top tethers across the rear seat for child seats or baby capsules, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions.

The only big ticket items missing are an active bonnet to minimise pedestrian impact injuries and multi-collision brake to reduce the chance of a secondary crash after an initial coming together.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Nissan Australia covers the X-Trail with a market-standard five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with roadside assistance included for the duration.

Service is required every 12 months/10,000km, the latter is way shorter than the more common 20,000km.

Nissan Australia covers the X-Trail with a market-standard five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. (Ti-L variant pictured) Nissan Australia covers the X-Trail with a market-standard five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. (Ti-L variant pictured)

Capped-price servicing is available over three-, four-, and five-year periods, with the dollars more or less matching equivalent pure combustion models. That is, an annual average of $457 over three years, $485 over four years, and $470 over five years.

Pay as you go and you're looking at an average of $508 per year for the first six years. Which isn't particularly cheap, especially when you consider a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is $260 per year for the first five years.

What's it like to drive?

As mentioned earlier it's the e-Power's twin electric motors that send drive to all four wheels at all times. The three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine is a generator only.

But the big difference is the engine's revs build in linear fashion in line with accelerator position and road speed. That's in stark contrast to other petrol-electric hybrids (hello, RAV4) where the engine sounds and feels disconnected from what's going on, thanks in no small part to the CVT auto it's paired with.

Consequently, this X-Trail feels like a quiet combustion car with the urgent acceleration and smoothness of an EV.

As mentioned earlier it’s the e-Power’s twin electric motors that send drive to all four wheels at all times. (Ti-L variant pictured) As mentioned earlier it’s the e-Power’s twin electric motors that send drive to all four wheels at all times. (Ti-L variant pictured)

The full 525Nm of torque is available at step-off, and Nissan claims 0-100km/h in seven seconds, which is pretty rapid.

The Sport setting lives up to its name, without being over the top, while Eco makes a marked difference in the other direction.

EV mode suppresses engine start up, and in the right conditions you can reach 100km/h without the engine firing. That said, you typically only have a few kilometres before internal combustion joins the party.

This X-Trail feels like a quiet combustion car with the urgent acceleration and smoothness of an EV. (Ti-L variant pictured) This X-Trail feels like a quiet combustion car with the urgent acceleration and smoothness of an EV. (Ti-L variant pictured)

A single-ratio reduction gear transmission sits on both axles, with the all-wheel-drive system able to transfer drive from front to rear and side to side in a ludicrous 1/10,000th of a second.

Like a swan cruising serenely across the lake, with legs paddling madly under the water, the X-Trail e-Power's AWD set-up, and things like torque vectoring (by braking), keep everything under control without the driver sensing a thing.

Despite the side doors, front guards and bonnet being aluminium the car still weighs 1.9 tonnes, but doesn't feel it.

The full 525Nm of torque is available at step-off, and Nissan claims 0-100km/h in seven seconds, which is pretty rapid. (Ti-L variant pictured) The full 525Nm of torque is available at step-off, and Nissan claims 0-100km/h in seven seconds, which is pretty rapid. (Ti-L variant pictured)

The X-Trail is underpinned by the same platform as the Qashqai and features a strut front, multi-link rear suspension. It feels balanced and stable through tightly twisting sections, not to mention comfortable after hours in the driving seat. The steering's weight and feel are good, too.

In the city the e-Power is smooth and quiet. The car's active "anti-phase" noise cancellation tech works beautifully. It's positively tranquil inside.

Regenerative braking on front and rear axles (rather than just one) helps keep the car flat as it slows down, and pressing the 'e-Pedal' button dials up the level of retardation appreciably.

Despite the side doors, front guards and bonnet being aluminium the car still weighs 1.9 tonnes, but doesn’t feel it. (Ti-L variant pictured) Despite the side doors, front guards and bonnet being aluminium the car still weighs 1.9 tonnes, but doesn’t feel it. (Ti-L variant pictured)

Interestingly, in e-Pedal mode the physical brake pedal drops in line with the amount of mechanical effort being applied (in support of the regen system). It puts the pedal in an expected position when the driver moves to apply the brakes physically.

Unlike the Leaf it won't bring you to a complete stop, though. Customers have let Nissan know that they prefer the car to reach a crawling speed, making slow-speed manoeuvring easier.

Speaking of which, front and rear parking sensors help in tight spots, as does the 'Intelligent Around View Monitor' with 'Moving Object Detection'. General visibility is good, too.

The car’s active “anti-phase” noise cancellation tech works beautifully. It’s positively tranquil inside. (Ti-L variant pictured) The car’s active “anti-phase” noise cancellation tech works beautifully. It’s positively tranquil inside. (Ti-L variant pictured)

About that 18 month wait for a RAV4 hybrid. I'd suggest you experience this car before making the call.

Nissan has gone down a different and interesting hybrid path creating a car that combines the best attributes of an EV with the personality of an internal combustion car.

It gives some ground on economy and ownership costs, but impresses with its refinement, safety and practicality. I think it measures up well.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel, accommodation and meals provided.

$35,990 - $61,990

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3.8/5
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