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After 12 successful years the boxy X-Trail was restyled.

The X-Trail has been a big seller for Nissan, with 140,000 sold in Australia since its introduction in 2001. The restyled model went on sale in March 2014 and was updated in May 2017. We reckon it’s become too soft for bush work, so we haven’t updated our testing.

nissan x-trail 2014 As with the outgoing model there was an option of 2WD and 4WD for the 2014 models, but the seven-seat option was available only in 2WD. Three grades, ST, ST-L and Ti, all with Nissan’s All Mode 4WD system, were five-seaters.

The ST had 17-inch aluminium wheels; Scratch Shield body coating; five-inch LCD colour  monitor; rear view camera; push-button start; AM/FM radio, 1CD, MP3, USB, AUX and Bluetooth; second-row 40/20/40 split-fold sliding/reclining bench seat; cargo storage system; cruise control; driver and passenger front airbags, side and curtain airbags; second row Isofix and top-tether anchor points for child seats; ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, ESC, HDC, Hill Start Assist, Body Motion Control and rear LSD.

The ST-L specification added: front fog lamps; roof rails; privacy glass; seven-inch LCD colour monitor; around view monitor; satellite navigation; digital radio; leather-accented seats, steering wheel and shift knob; power driver’s seat with electric lumbar support; heated driver and front passenger seats and dual zone climate control.

The Ti added: 18-inch wheels; LED auto-levelling headlights; motion sensor activated power tailgate; rain-sensing wipers; power tail gate; power tilt and slide sunroof; auto-dim rear view mirror; lane departure warning; moving object detection and blind spot warning.

The new X-Trail 4WD petrol models retained the outgoing model’s 2.5-litre engine capacity and this latest version employed direct-injection to produce 126kW of power at 6000rpm and 226Nm of torque at 4400rpm.

The Renault-sourced RM9 four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine displaced 1.6 litres and had an output of 96kW and 320Nm of torque, with a claimed combined fuel consumption rating of 5.3L per 100km.

nissan x-trail 2014 The 2.5-litre petrol engine powered  three model grades – ST, ST-L and Ti – and was mated to Nissan’s latest Xtronic CVT that had manual mode and wider gear ratio coverage than before. The ratio spread was 2.63:1-0.38:1. No manual box was offered on 4WD models.

The diesel models were TS and TL grades.

Continuing from the outgoing model was Nissan’s All Mode 4×4-i system, with a rotary dial to select 2WD mode, Auto 4WD mode and Lock mode.

In 2WD mode, all engine torque went to the X-Trail’s front wheels, for optimum economy, but if there was a loss of traction, the 4×4-i system automatically engaged 4WD.

In Auto mode, the 4×4-i system continually monitors all four wheels and constantly distributes optimum torque to each.

Lock mode permanently engaged the rear wheels at trail-driving speeds, with a 50:50 torque split between the front and rear axles. Above 40km/h the system reverted to Auto mode.

All 4WD X-Trails had an Eco-mode that gave the driver visual feedback of the amount of fuel being used, in relation to the amount of accelerator pedal input, providing guidance for economical driving.

In addition to electric power steering, Active Ride Control (ARC), Active Engine Brake and Active Trace Control (ATC) were innovations for 2014 and came on every model grade.

Active Ride Control monitored the road surface to detect undulations which could potentially upset the pitch of the car body and altered the suspension damping to compensate.

Active Engine Brake ‘downshifted’ the CVT when the X-Trail was slowing for a corner or decelerating to a stop.

Active Trace Control automatically applied selective wheel braking to reduce understeer and was most usually activated on loose-surface and wet roads.

X-Trail ST and ST-L were fitted with 225/65R17 tyres and the Ti had 225/60R18 tyres. A steel temporary spare wheel wais fitted to all model grades, but a full-sized wheel could fit into the internal wheel well, albeit with a slight increase in cargo floor height.

Towing capacity was a sensible 1500kg, with a ball weight rating up to 150kg.


Sleeker, smarter bodywork

nissan x-trail 2014 The all-new X-Trail (code T32) was the first global vehicle to use the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s Common Module Platform. Being streamlined, it looked
more compact than the outgoing box-shaped model, but was actually very slightly longer and taller, with a significant 30mm increase in width.

Ground clearance shrunk from 215mm to 210 mm, but deeper-tread bush tyres could rectify that.

All X-Trail grades had Nissan’s innovative EZ Flex seating system that incorporated a sliding and reclining second-row bench seat with a 40/20/40 split-fold layout; centre armrest and two cup holders.

All model grades were equipped with child-seat lower anchors, tethers and ISO-FIX in the second row. Also, the rear doors opened through 80 degrees, to ease loading and unloading child’s safety seats.

A large console box between the front seats swallowed an iPad or 10-inch tablet.

All this was good, practical stuff, but the outstanding feature of the X-Trail interior was an innovative rear cargo floor that provided flexible storage options. Known as Divide-N-Hide, this flexible cargo storage system allowed the luggage compartment to be compartmentalised in 18 different ways, so items didn’t slide around. Also, a luggage board could be located single-handedly to provide two-deck loading.

On Ti models a power tailgate was triggered by a simple hand movement over an infra-red sensor located just above the number plate – provided the remote locking key was close by.

nissan x-trail 2014 Fitted
to all grades, NissanConnect integrated Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, Pandora and USB connection for interfacing with an iPod or similar device. ST-L and Ti have Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) radio that broadcast on-screen information such as news headlines, weather information and traffic updates.

Nissan’s Advanced Drive Assist Display (ADAD) unit is a five-inch LCD screen that displays drive distribution between front and rear wheels, trip computer, fuel consumption information and navigation details.

All X-Trails had a self-cleaning and drying rear wide-view camera that provided a 130-degree lateral view and a 92-degree vertical view, with overlaid reversing-aid guidelines.

ST-L and Ti grades scored an Around View Monitor (AVM) that gave a 360-degree aerial view of the vehicle and its surroundings.

X-Trail Ti cames with Nissan’s Intelligent Technology Suite: Lane Departure Warning (LDW); Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Moving Object Detection (MOD).

Other safety features on all models included Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), ABS, EBD, BA, Hill Start Assist (HSA), driver and front passenger front- and side-impact SRS airbags, curtain airbags extending to the second row, front seatbelts with load limiters and pre-tensioners, and three-point Emergency
Locking Retractor (ELR) front and rear seatbelts.

RRP for 4WD X-Trails ranged from $33,980 to $44,680 at launch.


2017 upgrades

In May 2017 a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine with output of 130kW and peak torque of 380Nm replaced the outgoing 1.6-litre turbo-diesel.

The 2.0-litre (106kW and 200Nm)  and 2.5-litre (126kW and 226Nm) petrol four-cylinder engines carried over to the refreshed model.

At the same time Nissan restyled the front fascia and fitted revised headlights and LED daytime running lights. A new rear bumper and revised rear combination lamps and LED boomerang tail lights were fitted.

Restyled 17-inch (ST / TS, ST-L) and 19-inch (Ti / TL) alloy wheels were adopted.

A D-shaped steering wheel, new shift knob design, leather gear-shift boot, door vent finish and a revised centre console and lid were added.

Addition of three new exterior paint colours: Marine Blue, Copper Blaze and Ruby Red

New Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies included: Intelligent Emergency Braking and  Forward Collision Warning on all model grades; Intelligent Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection on Ti, TL grades); Intelligent Cruise Control on Ti grade; Rear Cross Traffic Alert on ST-L, Ti, TL grades; Adaptive Front Lighting System on Ti, TL grades and Lane Departure Intervention on Ti grade.

New convenience features included: Motion Activated Tailgate on Ti, TL grades; heated steering wheel and heated rear seats on Ti, TL grades; High Beam Assist on Ti, TL grades.


On and off road

nissan x-trail 2014 Nissan Australia organised a press release drive program for the 2014 X-Trail launch, featuring varying road surfaces and some limited fire-trail
driving. In all these conditions the new petrol-powered machine performed well.

Our test mount was a Ti model, so it lacked nothing in the way of ‘fruit’. We played with all the information functions and found the Eco-mode particularly useful in achieving good economy.

After some performance driving to evaluate handling on different surfaces we settled into Eco-mode and managed an overall economy reading of 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres – better than Nissan’s claimed 8.3L/100km target. Driven totally for economy the X-Trail squeezed 7.7L/100km.

Ride quality was excellent on typical Aussie bitumen surfaces and it took provocation to stimulate the Active Trace Control into action, even when running in 2WD mode. In Auto mode the X-Trail had tenacious grip and we reckon it would be difficult to get it out of shape.

Our off-road testing was limited by ground clearance and tyres, but fire trails and our rocky test slope didn’t upset the X-Trail. For long-term bush work a set of LT tyres would be necessary, because the standard boots are definitely road-oriented. We expect Nissan to offer a nudge bar and sump protection plate as accessories.

All controls worked well and cabin ergonomics were judged excellent. The latest CVT operated without hesitation when acceleration was required and automatically chose the optimum rev band to suit driver demands. Manual mode wasn’t necessary other than for engine braking when running off steep hills and was particularly handy for slowing a trailer, without having to use the wheel brakes.

nissan x-trail 2014 In pursuit of best economy a light right foot saw engine revs around the 1600rpm mark for much of the time – fewer bangs per kilometre equal less fuel usage

When it comes to loading freight the X-Trail’s capacity of 500kg rivals that of large wagons. Its Divide-N-Hide partitioning panels made it stand-out from the mass of SUVs in the marketplace and my better half would opt for one on that basis alone!

We checked out the new diesel in November 2014 and can confirm Nissan’s claimed fuel economy. In around 3000km of loaded-vehicle testing we averaged just under 6L/100km. However, this was done in a manual-transmission X-Trail and the auto might use slightly more.

The manual works with a light, positive action, as does the clutch and hill starts are aided by hill-start-assist. Nonetheless, we can’t work out why anyone would want the manual behind an engine that needs to spin up its turbo to do its best. The auto is a far better match to the turbo-diesel than the manual.

Our towing test reinforced our opinion that the X-Trail auto is the way to go.

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