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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.6

The Nissan X-Trail is a sensible and practical family car that will keep everyone comfortable. It's got loads of safety kit, plenty of handy storage areas for everyone's bits and bobs, and it can cope with a bit of light off-roading if you find yourself on an adventure. However, if you’re after more style and driving excitement, you’ll want to take a look at a Mazda CX-5, and for a proper seven-seater with lots of room and value for money, the Skoda Kodiaq.

Reasons to buy

  • Very spacious five-seater
  • Good fuel economy
  • Comfortable ride
Pick of the range
Acenta 1.6dCi
Decent equipment levels and an engine that will suit most.
Most economical
Visia 1.6dCi
Entry-level diesel will get you the best fuel economy.
Best avoided
Tekna DIG-T 160 2WD
Petrol engine isn't as solid as the diesels.

How good does it look? 4/5

The X-Trail sits alongside Nissan’s other SUVs, the Juke and Qashqai, and you can definitely see the Qashqai influence from the front. The full X-Trail range is smart, with alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights standard on the basic Visia models. Step up to Acenta trim and you also get tinted rear windows and front foglights, while N-Connecta adds roof rails and 18-inch alloys, and the flagship Tekna model has LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, and chrome bits on the side.

What's the interior like? 3/5

The changes to the 2017 facelifted model include a couple of tweaks to the styling, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel, for ease of getting in and out. While everything feels solidly built in the cabin, and the various controls are all laid out logically and are easy to reach, it’s not quite as smart as a Kia Sorento.

The driving position is good, with plenty of adjustment on the driver’s seat and steering wheel, as well as generous head- and legroom, and there’s a decent view out.

Most buyers opt for the higher N-Connecta or Tekna trims. On these you get a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav as standard. It’s relatively easy to get your head around, but it does look a bit dated compared with other systems, and considering that it's the high-end choice, the screen looks tiny, especially when compared with those of many rivals. The more basic Visia and Acenta trims come with a 5.0-inch touchscreen system.

How practical is it? 4/5

The regular X-Trail comes as a five-seater, and used as such, it’s absolutely fab. There’s loads of headroom and legroom in both the front and the rear seats, allowing everyone to travel comfortably, and the rear bench even reclines and slides forwards and backwards, allowing you to maximise either passenger space or boot space. There’s loads of storage for everyone’s bits and bobs, including a big central cubbyhole, a decent-sized glovebox, and cupholders.

On every model, though, you can choose to specify and extra pair of seats as an optional extra, and these pop up from beneath the boot floor. They’re ok for emergencies, but space is rather too tight for them to be used on a regular basis, or for long journeys. You’ll have to slide the middle seats a long way forward to stand any chance of fitting an adult in behind (which means those in the middle become rather short on legroom), and even then, their heads will be pressed into the ceiling and there’s very little space for their legs or feet.

Travelling in seven-seat mode also results in severely restricted boot space, so don’t bank on carrying any more than a couple of filled-up 5p carrier bags. You get a much more useful 565 litres in five-seat mode (more than enough for your average family’s clutter), and with all the seats down, there’s 1,996 litres of space. For context, the boot space is bigger than the Mazda CX-5, but smaller than the Skoda Kodiaq, and Kia Sorento.

The X-Trail also comes with a very handy electric tailgate (standard on N-Connecta upwards), so you can kick your foot under the rear bumper to open the boot if your hands are full.

What's it like to drive? 3/5

A comfortable ride is the most important dynamic virtue in a family car like this, and that’s certainly the thing upon which the X-Trail concentrates. The softly-sprung suspension does a good job of shielding you from the effects of many bumps and ripples, although you can still feel an underlying jitter over some surfaces. It’s not so soft that the body bounces around uncontrollably on the motorway or when you hit an undulating road, but you will feel a fair amount of body lean in corners, even at moderate speeds. This will deter you from being too optimistic with your cornering speeds, and so will the steering, which is slow to react and to turn, as well as being curiously heavy. There’s always plenty of grip on offer, though, so the car always feels secure.

With the optional four-wheel drive system fitted, power is sent only to the front two-wheels in most situations, and is only applied to the rears if needed. You can switch it to four-wheel-drive lock mode if you’re doing a bit of light off-roading, so it can cope better with muddy tracks and slopes. You won’t want to do anything too extreme with it, though.

How powerful is it? 3/5

The X-Trail comes with a very simple choice of engines, one diesel and one petrol. The more popular diesel is a 1.7-litre unit with 150 horsepower, and it’s available with either front- or four-wheel drive, and with a six-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable automatic transmission. We’ve tried it as a four-wheel drive manual. The gearshift itself is a little bit notchy and long-throw, so it’s not the most satisfying you’ll ever use, but it’s nothing that’ll ruin your experience. Uncharacteristically for a diesel, the engine needs quite a few revs to get into its groove – getting on for 3000rpm before it properly gets going – and even when it hits its sweet spot, the performance it gives is adequate rather than impressive. The engine is also rather clattery, and because it needs working hard for best effect, it makes even more noise and vibration.

We haven’t yet tried the petrol option, which is a 1.3-litre turbo engine with 160 horsepower and a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox.

How much will it cost me? 3/5

Compared with its compact SUV rivals, the X-Trail sits at the same end of the scale as the Skoda Kodiaq, which is the right end of the scale to be at. That makes it an affordable car to buy, a lot more affordable than rivals like the Kia Sorento. Resale values look to be pretty solid, too, which will be a big help in keeping whole life costs down, and reducing monthly payments for those who buy on finance. Figures for fuel economy and CO2 emissions look to be competitive compared with those of rivals, while Nissan has also worked hard to reduce the costs of maintenance and insurance.

How reliable is it? 4/5

The Warranty Direct Reliability Index – which ranks manufacturers according to their reliability record – shows that Nissan sits comfortably in the top half of the manufacturer standings, while previous versions of the X-Trail rate above average for mechanical dependability. The 2019 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study puts Nissan in fourth place overall among manufacturers, which is pretty darn good. Nissan’s three-year/60,000-mile warranty is relatively standard, but it’s not great if you compare it with Kia’s generous seven-year/100,000-mile warranty on the Sorento.

How safe is it? 4/5

There’s a good level of standard safety equipment across the range, with every model having six airbags, a tyre pressure monitoring system, Isofix child seat points in the rear, and hill hold assist. However, the entry-level Visia trim misses out on important safety equipment such as lane departure warning, traffic signal recognition and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, that all comes in at second-rung Acenta trim and upwards. The X-Trail was crash tested by Euro NCAP back in 2014, and was awarded the full five stars, but under today’s more modern regulations, it’d probably have a star knocked off because the safety kit mentioned isn’t standard throughout the range.

How much equipment do I get? 4/5

No version of the X-Trail is poorly equipped, and even the most basic Visia models have air-conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and DAB radio, a 5.0-inch colour touchscreen, all-round electric windows and mirrors, and an electric parking brake.

Step up to Acenta and you also get six speakers, fancier air-conditioning, automatic lights and wipers, an anti-dazzle rear view mirror, driver lumbar support, front and rear parking sensors, a panoramic roof and leather steering wheel and gear knob. Acenta Premium gives you a slightly flashier infotainment system and a 360-degree camera system to help manoeuvring.

N-Connecta brings some extra tech, including an intelligent key and a hands-free tailgate. At the top of the range, Tekna models have leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated seats, a premium Bose sound system with eight speakers, and an automatic parking system.

Why buy? 4/5

The X-Trail gives you a spacious and comfortable five-seater with the option of seven seats, and has plenty of space for storing luggage and other bits if you’re off on a family adventure. It also comes with a decent level of safety kit, and is pretty comfortable on the road. A very solid all-rounder.