Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: 2018 Nissan X-TRAIL 4WD

Having seven seats is always a great selling point here in the Philippines. While that option is normally reserved for MPVs and larger SUVs, even smaller ones are starting to get into the fray. One such entrant, fighting in the compact crossover genre is the Nissan X-Trail. Being the second of three crossovers that offer three rows of seats, the X-Trail can’t claim to have that as a unique proposition. What it can claim though is that it underwent a bunch of tweaks that make it a more convincing choice now. The question is: are they enough to help keep the X-Trail on stride in the highly competitive market?

First impressions are pretty good. The 2018 update has certainly made the X-Trail look much sportier compared to when it first launched in 2015. Gone is the generic soap bar-shape and in its place is a more angular, more aggressive looking face. The larger grille, LED headlights, and chiseled bumpers all suit the “active lifestyle” commonly associated with SUVs without going overboard. Towards the back, the changes are far less obvious but the new bumper and boomerang-shaped LED taillights do the job of adding a bit of character. The final modernizing touches are courtesy of the new shark’s fin antenna (replacing the old school pole-type) and two-tone 19-inch alloy wheels (replacing the 17-inch ones).

Sadly, Nissan’s efforts seem to be concentrated on the exterior since they’ve largely forgotten to modernize the interior. Though there are various soft-touch plastics and even leather on the steering wheel, dashboard, and shifter base, there are also some hard, scratchy plastics too. It’s well-hidden thanks to its texturized finish, but poke long enough and it’s noticeable—lower dash, door trims, center console—they all fall victim to this. Plus, the doors close with a tinny twang making it feel far less premium than a fair few of its rivals.

For the driver, the X-Trail remains a safe, solid bet. The seat itself is cushy and combine that with a tilt/telescopic steering wheel and it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. The gauges are large and easy to understand as are the various buttons and switches. The latter is also crisp-feeling with precise, positive engagement.

Surprisingly, the most disappointing parts of the X-Trail has much to do with the 2018 update. The Around View 360-degree monitor is a great idea, but cramming the display into a low-resolution, 5-inch screen makes it pretty close to useless. The same goes for Moving Object Detection or MOD. Instead of pinpointing exactly where the moving object is, the system simply alerts you in which general area (front, back, left, or right) it’s in. The driver will then have to decipher it and that’s quite difficult with the miniscule screen. There’s an audible warning, but it’s easily drowned out. It’s the same problem with the blind spot warning system which has too small an indicator and too soft a warning chime.

Honestly, the only thing that worked perfectly is the Forward Collision Braking and Forward Collision Warning system. It’s perfectly tuned to local road conditions with no false alarms or unwanted emergency braking.

As a family hauler, the X-Trail is packaged pretty well for its size. The first two rows of seats are pretty solid with ample head and generous leg room. However, the third row of seats is best left for occasional use. Getting in and out is easy thanks to rear doors that open almost 90 degrees and a second row that tilts and slides forward, but it’s definitely a “knees-up” situation at the back. The second row is adjustable allowing for additional legroom, but even then, it doesn’t make it more habitable.

Perhaps the X-Trail’s weakest point is when it comes to driving excitement, or the lack of it. The softly-sprung suspension gives an impression of it being cushy and plush, and it is over smooth pavement. But the moment it goes over anything slightly rough, it will bob and thud its way through. What’s more, sharp-edged bumps will cause the entire car to shake and shudder, and it takes a moment to regain its composure. The light steering is a godsend in traffic jams or parking maneuvers, but it takes a bit more lock to get it into corners. It doesn’t feel particularly pointy when pushed, and even in the rare instances when it’s up for a dance, it tips and leans heavily into corners. NVH isolation is one of the X-Trail’s strong suits, with the thin glass being the only chink in that armor.

Under the hood, the X-Trail remains mechanically unchanged. It still runs on a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder motor making 171 horsepower and 233 Nm of torque. It feels sluggish off the line but picks up the pace as it gains momentum. Driven sensibly, it’s smooth but fuel economy could be better (5.40 km/L at 11 km/h, 9.35 km/L at 27 km/h). Start prodding the accelerator though and it’ll always feel like it’s a half step behind. Because of the CVT’s need to adjust its ratios, the coarseness of the engine is made obvious.

In value for money terms, the 2018 update does give the X-Trail much more equipment this time. Now, they’ve thrown everything from powered front seats to a panoramic sunroof to a hands-free powered tailgate to all sorts of driver assistive technology under the Nissan Intelligent Mobility umbrella: Blindspot Warning System with Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Braking, Forward Collision Warning, and of course, the Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection. Honestly, the packaging would have been perfect if not for the lack of a more modern infotainment system with a bigger screen (no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay here) and more standard airbags (it only has, shockingly, two).

With the revised exterior styling, better standard equipment, and slew of Nissan Intelligent Mobility features, the 2018 Nissan X-Trail has become an okay choice in the crowded compact crossover segment. If it were the only one with standard seating for seven, then that would have made it a clear winner. Sadly, there are far more okay choices out there. As it stands, Nissan may have moved the X-Trail onto the right track, it’s just that its competitors have moved on even further.

2018 Nissan X-TRAIL 4WD
Ownership 2018 Nissan X-TRAIL 4WD
Year Introduced 2015 (Refreshed: 2017)
Vehicle Classification Compact Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/AWD, Auto, Lock
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration EFI
Fuel Delivery Normally Aspirated
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 171 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 233 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 5.40 km/L @ 11 km/h,
9.35 km/L @ 27 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,690
Width (mm) 1,830
Height (mm) 1,740
Wheelbase (mm) 2,705
Curb Weight (kg) 1,530
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Bridgestone Ecopia E/L 422 Plus 255/55 R 19 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, 360-degree with Object Detection
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist,
Hill Descent Control
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Yes
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 40/20/40 (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 Auto, Dual with Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. It's disappointing how underwhelming the X-Trail is in the country. You would think that one of the largest car companies in the world, they would have the scale to provide better quality cars to compete with the other companies.

    Seriously, foregoing more airbags to install a supposedly better safety system but then installing ineffective mechanisms for the new system which would be more hassle for a driver. I understand that it's better in the sense that the driver can actively avoid accidents rather than the airbags which would be effective only during an accident. Wouldn't it be better if product planners of Nissan Ph bring in products which can actually be competitive in terms of price and specs?

  2. I can overlook budget cars less than P1M to have few airbags but at P1.8m and having 2 airbags, it is unconscionable. Its not like it has a powerful engine under the hood to offset that.

    1. Lol and people still buy the overpriced fortuner worth 2m which just recently got rear disc brakes. Heck even the prado is freakin overpriced. 3.9m for the same a 5 speed d4d engine. Only exterior got updates lol

  3. The interior still looks bland compared to it's competitors

  4. What I didn't like about it 3 years ago was that it felt cramped inside. The same should hold true today.

  5. Boring, somewhat expensive, underspecced, and a gas guzzler. I'd get the crv if I wanted a 7 seater crossover.


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