2017 NISSAN X-TRAIL Review
It is always exciting when you introduce a new member of the family.
It’s the reason that weddings and births are such important times for families. It’s the chance to celebrate, but it is also the opportunity for the family to get to know someone new, and bring them into the family fold. That is why there is a bit of a spring in the step of the people at Bartons, with the famous name of Nissan joining the Bartons Motor Group family. It was already a pretty big family, with names like Holden, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Hyundai already at the table. But there is always a seat for one more, and Nissan’s long history and reputation for quality means that it more than deserves its place at the table.
What that means for Bartons customers is there is now an even bigger range of new vehicles to choose from, while still getting all of the service, customer satisfaction and great deals that come as part of the Bartons experience.
From large 4WDs like the Patrol and full-size SUVs like the Pathfinder, the popular Navara ute and the sporty 350z, Nissan covers a lot of bases with its wide range of models to further complement the massive choice of vehicles available at Bartons.
For the first Nissan review for Bartons, we are looking at one of the brand’s most successful and popular models – the X-Trail. The reason the X-Trail can be described as “successful” and “popular” is that it has always been very good. A mid-sized SUV pitched directly at the modern-Aussie-family market, the X-Trail has been a favourite since its launch nearly 20 years ago. When the third-generation X-Trail launched in 2014, that popularity surged again thanks to a massively upgraded package, that included a totally overhauled exterior styling that dragged it into the modern era. The good news is that the new X-Trail keeps all of those improvements, and makes it better again.
The X-Trail comes in three model variants: the entry-level ST, the midlevel ST-L and the top of the range Ti. Across those variants, it is really just a matter of working out which of the nine combinations are right for you – whether you want 2WD or 4WD, petrol or diesel, five seats or seven seats for a bigger family. For the purpose of my road test, I was handed the keys to an ST-L 4WD. Although with the X-Trail, even the phrase “handed the keys” is a little outdated.
All X-Trail models come with an “intelligent key” with push button start, which means you can keep the key in your pocket and unlock and start the car simply by pressing buttons.
You will appreciate just how convenient this is after you have been using it for a while, and have to drive another car that does not have it. I don’t consider myself a snobbish person. But when I had to drive a different car with a traditional point-andunlock opener and insert-and-turn ignition after being in the X-Trail for a couple of weeks, my eyes nearly rolled into the back of my head at the primitive nature of it all. I have to turn a key? What next? Does it have an engine, or do I have to kick my feet through the floor and pedal it like the Flintstones? It was a bit like that scene in Back to the Future II where the little kid from the future dismisses a 1980s arcade game because “you have to use your hands? That’s for babies”.
I know it sounds bad. But you really can’t help but get used to the convenience that the X-Trail brings to everyday life. You can take this convenience – and the accompanying snobbery – to another level with the Ti and TL models, which feature the ridiculously clever motion activated tailgate.
This automatically raises the tailgate when you swipe your foot under the car’s rear bumper – an exceptionally welcome bit of tech when your hands are full with 27 bags of groceries, or you are trying to convince your kids you do indeed know the ways of the Force.
Before you climb into the X-Trail though, it is worth paying some attention to the new model’s refined external features, which include a bit of nip-and-tuck work around the face and the rear end. The X-Trail was already a pretty little thing, but a new grille and new tail lights have given it just enough of a spruce-up to make it look fresh and new.
The same theory applies inside the cabin as well, with the introduction of a user-friendly, flatbottomed steering wheel the most notable of a range of subtle tweaks and upgrades to make the new X-Trail better than the one before. The ST-L comes with black-leather upholstery, and a six-way poweradjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, coupled with tilt and telescopic steering adjustment.If you can’t get comfortable here, then I’m afraid you’re not really trying.
The steering wheel is well set-up, with controls for the audio system under your left thumb, and cruise control and your Bluetooth phone connection under your right.
As usual, the centre of attention sits in the middle of the dashboard, with the ST-L boasting a sharp and impressive 7-inch touchscreen display that plays home to all sorts of technological sorcery. For a start, the satellite navigation is easy to use, with the graphics making navigation around the CBD a breeze.
Further, the X-Trail ST-L and Ti models also come with traffic monitoring, which sends you live traffic updates that might disrupt your commute. Clever!
But the real party piece is the rear-view camera, which comes with pathway prediction graphics, and rear cross-traffic alert. But wait. It gets better. From the ST-L up, the X-Trail also comes with the “Intelligent Around- View” system, which essentially is like having your own personal drone flying above the car, showing exactly what obstacles and how much space you have to deal with while parking the car.
The picture is actually produced by a series of strategically placed cameras, which give you unsurpassed vision when reversing, parking, or even edging up as close as you can to the wheelie bins without swearing and cleaning up. There are people who shy away from buying an SUV because they are worried about having to deal with the sheer size of this type of vehicle when it comes to parking in a tight shopping centre carpark for example.
One test drive of the X-Trail from Bartons will put those worries to rest. Aside from all the driver-aid technology, the steering is so incredibly light it actually caught me by surprise the first time I drove this car.
It makes handling the X-Trail a breeze, and the range of safety features will also put your mind at rest. Front and side curtain airbags, traction control, forward collision warning and intelligent emergency braking are standard on all models, helping the X-Trail achieve the coveted five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The Ti models also bring lane departure warning, intelligent lane intervention and pedestrian detection to its suite of safety features. Blindspot detection is also included from the ST-L up, and while it is not exactly new, the X-Trail’s version of it makes it better. Instead of the warning lamp being imbedded into the wing-mirror glass, the X-Trail’s amber warning light is actually inside the cabin, on the base of the mirror and on a black background.
It is only a subtle change from the normal, but to my mind, did a better job of catching your attention if you were preparing to change lanes with a car out of sight in a blindspot. And that is the thing with the X-Trail – all the little things add up to a thoroughly enjoyable overall experience.
The ride is quiet and comfortable, with dual-zone climate control and a wealth of space ensuring a pleasant journey on the daily commute or a long run down the highway. It is a great all-rounder. If you have fancied all the practicality of an SUV, and the potential for weekend adventures, but had concerns about living with an SUV day-to-day, get down to Bartons to test drive the X-Trail and see what you have been missing.
The X-Trail will turn heads, and change minds. It is a welcome addition to the Bartons family.