Make and model: Nissan X-Trail
Description: Large seven-seat SUV
Price range: £32,890 to £47,980 (plus options)
Nissan says: “Muscular and modern design with advanced technology”
We say: The new Nissan X-Trail is a worthy family five- or seven-seat SUV that’s much nicer to driver than your average hybrid.
- What is it?
- Who is this car aimed at?
- Who won’t like it?
- First impressions
- What do you get for your money?
- What’s it like inside?
- What’s under the bonnet?
- What’s it like to drive?
- How safe is it?
- Similar cars
- Key specifications
- Buy a Nissan X-Trail
- Lease a Nissan X-Trail
- Subscribe to a Nissan X-Trail
Here we have the fourth-generation Nissan X-Trail. It was launched last year and we originally drove it at the European press launch, but we’ve now had the chance to spend a lot more time with it in UK spec and on UK roads.
Like similar vehicles (Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V), the X-Trail has evolved considerably over the years from fairly agricultural origins to become a large, modern family SUV with seating for up to seven people.
The model we’re reviewing here is the e-Power e-4orce (that’s not a typo) hybrid version. Except that it’s not really a hybrid. It’s more of a petrol-powered electric car. Confused? We’ll explain. And what’s an e-4orce? Read on…
What is it?
The Nissan X-Trail is a large SUV that sits above the Qashqai and is the largest model in the current Nissan line-up. It’s available with either five seats or seven, with the optional third row seats folding down flat when you don’t need them.
Unlike the Qashqai, the X-Trail isn’t built in the UK and is imported from Japan. Nissan had originally pledged to build it here, but later changed its mind (using Brexit as a bit of an excuse).
Customers get a choice of three powertrains, which are:
- 1.5-litre petrol engine with mild hybrid assistance
- e-Power 2WD single motor
- e-Power 4WD (called e-4orce) twin motor
Each powertrain is available with a choice of five trim levels – Visia, Acenta Premium, N-Connecta, Tekna and Tekna+ – which seems about a couple too many to me, but Nissan presumably knows what it’s doing.
Who is this car aimed at?
The new Nissan X-Trail is aimed directly at middle-class families who need more room than is available in a Qashqai or similar-size vehicle. Like most family SUVs, it gives all the right signals about being able to go anywhere, anytime, with all your lifestyle gear – even though we all know that the farthest it’s likely to venture from the tarmac is onto a gravel path to the average family-friendly campsite.
It will also attract buyers who want seven seats but can’t afford a Land Rover Discovery, or want a family SUV with at least some attempt at eco credentials.
Who won’t like it?
Badge snobs who won’t even consider it because it’s not from a premium German label, or anyone suspicious of Nissan’s unique interpretation of a petrol-electric hybrid motor. They’ll both be missing out…
Like the previous model, the new Nissan X-Trail is based on its smaller sibling, the Qashqai. But while the last model simply looked like a slightly larger Qashqai, this time around Nissan has put more effort into distinguishing the X-Trail. It’s a more rugged-looking vehicle harking back to the squared-off styling of the original X-Trail from 20 years ago.
Step inside, however, and the new X-Trail is nothing like the creaky plastic cabins of the original generation. It’s every inch the modern family SUV, blending familiar cues from the Qashqai with inspiration from the all-electric Ariya.
Space is good in pretty much every direction – with the usual exception of the third-row seats, if you order them, which are best suited to kids on shorter journeys.
We like: Interior is both comfortable and functional
We don’t like: More trim levels than really necessary?
What do you get for your money?
Once we’ve got the first impressions out of the way, it’s time to look a bit harder at exactly what you’re getting for your money with the Nissan X-Trail.
The range kicks off with the Visia 1.5-litre petrol engine for just under £33K. Looking at the spec levels, this certainly appears to be a price-leader model and not one you’d really want to buy. Going up to Acenta Premium for an extra £1,700 brings a useful bump in equipment levels, such as a proper central infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, front parking sensors, and dual-zone air-conditioning.
As with a lot of models, the N-Connecta spec is probably the sweet spot of the range. Starting at just under £37.5K, you get a fully digital instrument panel, larger central infotainment screen, 360-degree cameras (helpful for manoeuvring a large SUV around shopping centre car parks…), privacy glass to keep the kids in the back shaded, and a few other assorted bits and pieces.
Tekna and Tekna+ models add a decent amount of extra kit, but prices are starting at £40K and £42.5K respectively so they’re a fair chunk more expensive than the headline starting price. If you’re coming out of a premium-brand SUV when buying a Nissan X-Trail, you may appreciate some of the extra luxuries, so balance the payments against what you need and want.
Tekna gets synthetic leather seats, a panoramic roof, semi-autonomous driving assistant, head-up display, wireless charging (and wireless Apple CarPlay, but not for Android Auto), power tailgate and larger 19-inch alloy wheels. The top-spec Tekna+ model goes even bigger with 20-inch wheels, as well as a Bose stereo and quilted leather seats from actual cows.
Once you’ve decided on your trim level, you need to pick your powertrain. All the prices above are for the 1.5-litre petrol engine, which comes with mild hybrid assistance for mild fuel economy improvements.
Step up to Nissan’s clever e-Power hybrid unit and it will cost you about £3,500 more. If you want the more powerful e-4orce version (Nissan’s painfully awful name for a more powerful e-Power unit with all-wheel drive ), that’s a further £2,200 above the regular e-Power option. Adding the extra two rear seats is also a £2,200 extra.
We like: Sensible progression from practical features to luxurious extras as you move up the range
We don’t like: Entry-level model seems little more than a price-leader
What’s the Nissan X-Trail like inside?
We spent a week in the Tekna model, which is one step down from the top of the range. But let’s look at things in more detail.
The front seats are comfortable, if a little flat, with decent headroom and legroom. The seat covers on the Tekna models are made from synthetic leather, which is visually indistinguishable from real leather although not quite as supple. It’s also slightly sweatier in warm weather, as you don’t have the same air circulation you get with natural fibres. Tekna+ gets genuine leather, lower levels get cloth.
Most UK-spec cars come with black interior trim, with some dark brown trim and dark wood inserts, which makes things a bit dark and drab. Opening the blind on the large panoramic sunroof (standard on Tekna and Tekna+) helps a lot, as would choosing the light grey seats (no-cost option). Tekna+ offers the option of a lovely caramel coloured leather instead of black, which both brightens the interior and makes it look far more luxurious.
Moving on, visibility is decent in most directions. The window line is relatively low, which helps the feeling of spaciousness for adults and ensures kids get a good view as well – they can see out the side windows rather than staring at the door trims.
There’s plenty of space and the overall ambience is better than the smaller Qashqai, if not as luxurious as the all-electric Ariya. Various storage spots are dotted around the cabin so everything can stay tidy, although many of them are quite small. Clearly, some thought has gone into how the car is likely to be used – for example, the centre console lid opens to both sides so it’s easy for both front and middle-row passengers to access. A small detail, but intelligent.
The middle row seats are also pretty comfortable, with enough space for a fully-grown adult passenger to sit behind a fully-grown adult driver. There’s also decent room for a child in a car seat without them feeling squashed up too close to the ceiling. Because this is an electrically driven car, there’s no need for a tunnel running through the middle of the car, which provides more legroom in the middle row (especially if you’re in the centre seat).
This row also slides fore and aft by 22cm, so you can allocate more or less legroom depending on whether there’s anyone in the third-row seats. There are also nice touches like built-in sunshades on the door windows (a personal favourite of our six-year-old rear-seat tester). Tekna and Tekna+ models get tri-zone climate control, so the second row can have a separate temperature setting from the two front passengers. Whether this is a help or a hindrance probably depends on how many children you have…
Like most seven-seaters, the optional rear row is very much a kids-only affair. Anyone who has reached their teenage years will find it uncomfortable for anything more than a very short journey. We didn’t spend any time using the third row because our test car was purely a five-seater, but having tried them previously I can assure you that they’re not remotely comfortable for adults. But you can say the same about every other seven-seat SUV on the market.
The bootspace is a decent 575 litres, assuming you don’t have the third row seats or they’re folded down. You’ll find a few estate cars and SUVs with more boot space, but it will be plenty for most households.
The infotainment system is a mixed bag. Like most cars, the factory operating system is clunky so you’re far better off using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for navigation and music. The 12-inch touchscreen is nice and wide, and mounted up high, so it’s easy to read on the move. The digital instrument panel is also pretty good, although the graphics could be a bit simpler and clearer. The head-up display on Tekna/Tekna+ models is also good, and frankly should be standard on every new car.
Niggles on our car included the wireless Apple CarPlay failing to find my phone a few times over the course of a week. Switching the car off and starting it up again worked, eventually, although it was quicker to just plug the phone in (both USB-A and USB-C ports are provided in the front and the rear, which is good). The wireless charging was also intermittent, often not charging my phone at all, so it ended up plugged in anyway most of the time. The touchscreen is a bit laggy, better than some cars but not as good as others, while the Bose sound system was a disappointment compared to ‘premium’ systems in other cars.
We like: Interior is a big improvement, and combines touchscreen with actual buttons for crucial controls
We don’t like: Third-row seats are really only suitable for kids, wireless system failed intermittently.
What’s under the bonnet?
This is where things get interesting, and differ from any other version of a hybrid car. The X-Trail e-Power system, whether in two-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive ‘e4orce’ format, uses an electric motor to drive the car.
So it’s an EV, right?
Well, sort of… The X-Trail also carries a 1.5-litre petrol engine.
So it’s a hybrid, then?
Well, yes and no. The petrol engine exists purely as a generator and is not connected to the wheels in any way. It converts petrol into electricity, which is sent either to a small battery or directly to the electric motor, depending on how urgently it’s needed.
Basically, the Nissan X-Trail e-Power is a petrol-powered EV. That might sound ridiculous, but it works well and provides a better driving experience than a conventional hybrid cars, which use both a petrol engine and an electric motor at different times.
The e-Power system is simpler in operation than a conventional hybrid. Rather than having a petrol engine and an electric motor that work in parallel (one at a time or both together), the e-Power system works in series – the petrol engine powers the electric motor, which drives the car.
This means there’s no chopping and changing between the two power units, so you get the smooth, powerful feeling of an electric car all the time. The petrol engine is less intrusive when it switches on and off because it’s not connected to the wheels, which means less noise and vibration.
If you have the optional e-4orce all-wheel-drive version, which we did, there’s an additional electric motor at the back to drive the rear wheels when extra grip is needed. In most circumstances, it won’t feel any different to the front-wheel-drive version, but it can help maintain traction in slippery conditions.
Nissan also claims that the additional electric motor helps to keep the car smoother and flatter during braking and cornering, so that passengers are more comfortable. To be honest, you’d have to be throwing the car about quite enthusiastically or zig-zagging your way up and down an alpine road to really notice this, so in normal circumstances it’s not a big thing. And if you’re regularly slamming the brakes on hard to the point that your passengers are feeling carsick on your daily commute, you need to have a word with yourself.
The e-Power system isn’t really any more fuel efficient than a conventional hybrid car, but the driving experience feels a lot more refined than most regular hybrids or plug-in hybrids. All hybrids should drive this way.
We like: e-Power is a smarter way of blending petrol and electric power than traditional hybrids
We don’t like: Fuel economy is not as good as you might hope
What’s it like to drive?
A large, seven-seat family SUV is never going to set pulses racing with its driving dynamics. Nevertheless, the X-Trail feels controlled and well-balanced in normal day-to-day driving.
Like most modern cars, there’s no particular feeling through the steering wheel, but the X-Trail responds well to changes of direction without wallowing around like a lot of large SUVs. It feels like it’s at least a size smaller than it is, which gives the driver confidence that it will go exactly where it’s pointed rather than somewhere in the general direction. Whether this is down to the e-4orce set-up or simply good basic engineering, it’s better than most.
Acceleration brisk rather than blistering; it’s perfectly adequate for most driving, but with the whole family on board you’ll have to think carefully before pulling out to overtake. It certainly doesn’t have the neck-snapping respone of a Tesla, which is a good thing most of the time.
The ride is generally pretty comfortable on most roads, which we also found last year on the top-spec Tekna+ model. The Tekna rides on 19-inch wheels and tyres, which is one inch smaller than Tekna+, while cheaper models get 18-inch wheels. If you regularly venture away from tarmac, the smaller wheels will also tend to give better impact absorption to reduce your chance of punctures.
One point worth mentioning is that the tyres on our test car (19-inch Hankook Ventus) were very noisy, which rather detracted from the overall experience. If this was our own car, we’d be swapping those for another brand well before they wore out. This may not apply to other tyre brands that Nissan uses, or other sizes of tyre on different models, but it was rubbish on this particular model.
Our driving was in early summer on normal family journeys and didn’t require the services of the all-wheel-drive set-up, so you’d be hard pressed to know that the rear wheels were doing anything most of the time. On icy winter roads or away from the tarmac altogether, the extra traction would be far more useful.
We like: Smooth, quiet, refined, EV driving experience
We don’t like: Performance is adequate rather than amazing
How safe is it?
The latest Nissan X-Trail was awarded a top five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP in November 2022. It has an excellent set of scores all round, which compare very favourably with anything else at any price.
Most of its scores are shared with the smaller Qashqai, which was tested in 2021, since the X-Trail is structurally an extension of its smaller sibling. Some additional tests were conducted where the two vehicles differ, but the overall rating is based on the Qashqai’s 2021 score.
All models get the full suite of usual safety features, while the Tekna and Tekna+ also get Nissan’s Pro Pilot assisted driving system, which combines advanced cruise control with active lane-keeping to provide semi-autonomous control on roads with clear lane markings.
Compared to the system on our usual family car (a Volvo), the Nissan felt less proactive in keeping the car centred in the lane, waiting until you drifted towards the lane maker lines before intervening. It also beeped quite a bit. A lot, actually. All the time, in fact, for reasons I didn’t understand.
The fourth-generation Nissan X-Trail is a significant step forward from its predecessor in most ways, especially in terms of passenger comfort. But the most noticeable evolution is Nissan’s unique petrol-electric e-Power drivetrain.
The e-Power system produces a car that drives like an electric vehicle (which it is) but is powered by a petrol engine, meaning that you fill it up with petrol every few hundred miles like any normal petrol car.
Best of both worlds? Well, it’s more like a halfway house between a petrol car and an electric one, but a better proposition than a regular hybrid – or a plug-in hybrid, for that matter. It’s more fuel efficient than a normal petrol car, with economy that is similar to a regular hybrid SUV. But the driving experience is much better than a hybrid SUV, with the petrol engine kept firmly in the background rather than fighting with the electric motor to decide who’s in charge all the time.
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Model tested: Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orce Tekna
Price (as tested): £47,140
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol plus two electric motors
Gearbox: Single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 213 hp
Torque: 330 Nm front, 195 Nm rear
Top speed: 111 mph
0-62 mph: 7.0 seconds
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