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July 21, 2015

Review: 2015 Nissan X-Trail 4WD

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Back in 2000, the Nissan X-Trail was launched with an upright, boxy body that looked rather sedate. What it lacked in style though it made up for it with interesting stuff like a washable cargo hold, water repellant seats, and commendable off-road abilities (although comparing its AWD system with the Skyline GT-R’s leaves a bad taste). Still, next to fashion comedy, Zoolander, it looked like the X-Trail withstood the effects of time better than the film’s zebra-print pants, faux fur, and over-the-top hair. Now, here’s the 2015 model.

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
Year Introduced 2014
Vehicle Classification Compact Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Crossover
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated, EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline-4
BHP @ rpm 171 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 233 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,630
Width (mm) 1,820
Height (mm) 1,695
Wheelbase (mm) 2,706
Curb Weight (kg) 1,604
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Yokohama Geolandar G91 225/65 R 17 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, with 360-degree Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric (Optional: Leather)
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40 (2nd row); 50/50 (3rd row)
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual, with Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. The camera doesn't only turn on during reverse, it also turns on when you press the "display" button. It will stay on until you press the "display" button or when you go at speeds above 10km/h.

    1. Where is this display button you're referring to? The audio system display button? Couldn't find any button on the dash that turns on the camera.

    2. It's on the left of the screen. It's labelled "DISP" under "CD

    3. Pressing the "DISP" button a second time also gives you a curb view for the front right side of the car.

    4. Checking out the different websites out there, you're absolutely right. It can display the curb, but I noticed they use a different head unit from the one we have locally.

      Well, in case it can change the view, then I'll have to add "not being intuitive" as part of the AroundView's problem. It still doesn't prevent the system from shutting off when you slot from reverse. They should have made it a point to keep it on until you travel 10 km/h. Again, the system on the Odyssey is better I think.

      And here I though that the DISP is just good for displaying iPod information LOL!

    5. Regarding the system shutting off when in reverse, if you activate it when you're not in reverse like when you're going nose first into a slot, it will actually stay in the camera view when you go into reverse and out of reverse gear. I drive a new x trail and that's what I do every time a park and especially parallel park.

  2. I thought it was more frugal than the CR-V. Guess I was wrong.

  3. What is the ground clearance? Can it survive small floods better than a CR-V or a Forester?

    1. The CR-V is extremely low for its category. If you're planning on fording floods with your car, don't bother with the CR-V. It has a ground clearance of only 170mm.

    2. 170 mm is correct for the CR-V. Forester has 220 mm.

    3. So what's the ground clearance of the X-Trail? Yeah, the CR-V is not good for floods, its intake is located way below the headlights.

  4. Is the Zero Gravity seats really a good feature (i.e. you wish other cars also have)? Or more of just a gimmick?

    1. Lifting a line from the review: "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."

      If you're stuck in traffic, yes, you'd want to have those Zero Gravity seats. Attacking the Clark International Speedway? Not so much.

  5. Nissan should put a diesel engine to make it competitive with others.

  6. ^So can we have that Escape vs. X-trail vs. Forester vs. Rav4 comparison now, Mr. Uly?

  7. Which is much better? In terms of safety and comfortability. And good fuel mileage. Hard time to decide which is one.
    Mazda cx 5
    Hyundai santa fe
    Nisaan xtrail
    Ford escape
    Toyota rav4

    1. Subaru Forester XT is the best

    2. ^^^ That's the best only if you enjoy adding oil to your engine like you own a 2-stroke motorcycle... :P

    3. Throw in the previous gen Kia Sorento. It's just below 1.4M before any discounts for the 4x2 model. More comfy and just as fast or even faster than a Forester XT in a straight line. 197 hp, 436 nm of torque, and approx 3600 lbs curb weight which is the same as the Forester XT. Hard to beat in terms of value even without the 3rd row seats.

      The Xtrail is crap. Not spacious and the 3rd row seats are so cramped. The 3rd row on MPVs like the Ertiga and Mobilio are even more spacious. And it's not sporty at all. Sluggish with lots of body roll when cornering. It's not competent at anything.

    4. I agree the Xtrail is not very sporty but it wasn't designed that way. No person on his right mind will use an SUV to drag race! I know one who did and he died in a car crash with an XT.

      About the Xtrail being cramp is completely false. It's in the same class as RAV4 and CRV in terms of space. And the 3rd row is expected to be cramped as it is an SUV, not an MPV. Even the Fortuner's 3rd row is cramped so no one is expecting the Xtrail to have a spacious 3rd row.

  8. Vanilla styling from nissan

  9. The biggest fashion blunder from this V-nosed hipster is the fact that the engine is actually a regression from the previous gen, which put out 180hp/250Nm (they were even bragging back then about how it's so powerful it can go up inclines that other AWD crossovers can't reach). The engine is weaker yet the fuel mileage didn't improve, heck, a 2nd-gen CR-V from 2002 puts out the same mileage. Another gimmick is the 3rd-row seats, it's as silly as the above-mentioned 10-cheater CR-V from 2002!

  10. Subaru XV or this?

    1. They're not in the same category. It should be Forester vs X-Trail.

    2. 2nd gen cr-v? nahhh.... I have a 2016 x-trail and a 2004 4x2 cr-v m/t, and based on my driving experience with both.... X-trail turned out to be more fuel efficient at 17km/L (Manila-Subic), against 14.5 with our cr-v....

      btw, both of them are regularly casa-maintained

  11. Mr. Ang, I'd like to ask if MMPC has any plans to launch the Next-gen Mitsubishi Outlander on our Philippine shores. (Hope you'd respond soon!)

  12. Overkill with the Zoolander metaphors. No vehicle deserves to be compared with that dumb movie. (Well, maybe the Crosswind.)

    1. Zoolander 2 is coming soon.

    2. Yup, I know. I can't wait. Hopefully it's better than the five-minute gag. The first one was surprisingly funny.

  13. why other country's xtrail get more features than ours ? like electric seat, LED headlight and sunroof.
    Not even in 4X4 version, could it be upgrade in Nissan ph ?

    1. walang Led headlight at ibang features dahil suguro sa 60/40 marami naghahati sa kita kaya binabawasan nila mga features para mas lalaki kita nila :(

  14. Airbags are not fashion must haves. They save lives. In this day and age, don't buy a car with just 2 airbags.


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