|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Though there’s almost nothing known about the Ben Stiller movie sequel, everyone’s already familiar with the third-generation X-Trail. Gone are all the angles found in the previous models and replacing it are soft, contoured lines also found in the Sylphy and Altima. It doesn’t give a masculine vibe, but it’s a looker. The most expressive part is the front with the V-Motion grille that flows to the hood. The boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights are cool as well. The rear though is much less successful. The colored reflector set behind the clear cover look is pretty dated as far as car fashion goes and the oddly placed tailgate handle just ruins the otherwise clean look. Still, give or take a decade, this X-Trail’s styling will withstand the test of time.
Inside, it’s the same story: departing from the old, boxy look this one’s now flowing. Overall, the fit and finish are more premium now, but there are still some wayward hard plastics like the lower part of the dashboard and the window switches. Compared to other crossovers, the design is functional with just a tad of metal, pseudo-carbon fiber, and piano black trim to brighten up the place. It’s a great place to spend some time in, especially with the Zero Gravity seats. It may not provide the sort of lateral support you’ll need for carving corners, but there’s no better place to spend four or five hours of traffic sitting on.
From the driver’s seat, the X-Trail feels larger than its dimensions suggest largely because of the way the expansive dash flows inward and the smaller-than-usual steering wheel. Nonetheless, the straightforwardness of the cabin is much appreciated. It takes less than 30 seconds to get familiar with the controls. The loveliest part is the gauges which don’t just echo the exterior profile but are easy to read and don’t wash out in direct sunlight. The full-colored LCD screen sandwiched between the tach and speedo allows you to scroll through various functions in an easy, intuitive manner; although the display did hang once between animations requiring the vehicle to the turned off for a reset. The most comfy seating position is higher up than other compact crossovers, but the visibility is mixed. There’s no problem with the front, but the A-pillars, despite being thin, do get in the way. The same can be said about the back, where the rear headrests do eat a sizeable chunk of rearview mirror space.
Cabin space experience depends largely on where you’re seated. The front thrones are spacious with passengers often comparing it to a mid-sized SUV. However, the second and third row experience depends largely on how many people you intend to ferry. As the segment’s only other 7-seater model (the other being the often-forgotten Chevrolet Captiva), compromises were understandably made to comfort. Noticeably, the second row seats lack the cushion length to be supportive on long rides. For a trip to Baguio, you might have to sit at an angle as not to suffer from lower back pain. It slides in a 60/40 split, but that’s more because it’s a requirement to enter the third row. And speaking about the third row, it’s best reserved for people with no legs if the second row is slid all the way rearward. Even with the second row slid all the way forward, it barely has enough room for children. Paraphrasing a line from Zoolander, the third row is clearly designed for ants or for children who can’t read good and wanna learn to do other stuff good too.
Slotting the reverse gear activates AroundView which offers a full 360-degree view within the car’s proximity using several cameras. It makes getting out of a tight parking space easier, but it’s odd why Nissan engineers decided that it it’ll shut off immediately when you move the gear lever away from reverse. What if you wanted to enter into a tight space nose first? What if you wanted to maneuver into tight roads? Like the system found in the Honda Odyssey, it should have been made speed sensitive or at least offer a camera-override button.
The X-Trail’s on-road character isn’t very sporty; rather it embraces the feel of a larger crossover. It gives up a bit of agility in return for plushness, a feeling reiterated by the entire drivetrain tuning. The normally aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is quiet and unobtrusive. Taking on a cruising frame of mind, it’s a solid drive. However, the engine doesn’t like to rev as it’s gruff. Pushing a portly body, it feels sluggish off the line. It also has a tremendous effect on city mileage with the needle registering just 6.45 km/L. As you gain speeds though, Nissan’s strength in NVH tuning becomes apparent. As long as you feather the throttle and keep your cool, tire, wind, and road noise are all kept in check. Surprisingly though, the ECO function combined with the CVT didn’t really result in great numbers: it tops out at 12.42 km/L on the highway.
Unlike titular character Derek Zoolander who didn’t know how to turn to the right, the X-Trail feels well enough to tackle corners, left or right. It feels well-planted and secure, although there’s much more body roll and understeer landing it squarely in the comfort rather than sporty end of the driving scale. This is despite it being fitted with stuff like Active Engine Braking and Active Ride Control (sort of like Nissan’s torque vectoring). Nonetheless, it easily absorbs the worse of potholes. Even with the tires pumped to the recommended 36 PSI (for a full load of seven plus luggage), it rides beautifully. It’s no Altima, but it can get pretty close sometimes. The steering is affected largely depending on whether you engage 4WD or not. In 2WD, it’s light; too light that it’s unsettling at higher speeds. The best balance is achieved when 4WD Auto is activated.
Nissan seems to be modeling the X-Trail to fit with ever-changing buyer demographics. They seem more bent to attract X-Trail loyalists who fell in love with the active lifestyle features of the first-gen model even before active lifestyle was hip. Though the second-gen model was forgettable, Nissan looks to be getting their groove back in 2015. Older and wiser, the X-Trail buyer may be looking for a crossover that’s plusher and comfier without sacrificing familiarity. In that regard, Nissan has gotten it right.
However, if Nissan wants to attract a new breed of buyer, they may have their work cut out for them. It’s well and good they’ve embraced comfort over sportiness, but the X-Trail still lacks in value. It does have dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth hands-free, but so does everyone else. And considering the fierce competition, things like HID headlamps and six airbags are definite fashion must-haves at this point. Heck, the leather seats are still a P 20,000 option. The omission of these features, in this day and age, maybe its biggest fashion blunder of all.
2015 Nissan X-Trail 4WD
|Ownership||2015 Nissan X-Trail 4WD|
|Vehicle Classification||Compact Crossover|
|Body Type||5-door Crossover|
|Engine / Drive||F/AWD|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Normally Aspirated, EFI|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline-4|
|BHP @ rpm||171 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||233 @ 4,000|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,604|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-Link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Yokohama Geolandar G91 225/65 R 17 H (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||No, with 360-degree Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Seating Surface||Fabric (Optional: Leather)|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40 (2nd row); 50/50 (3rd row)|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual, with Rear Vents|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|