2023 Nissan X-Trail ST-L review
The new Nissan X-Trail has been a long time coming, given it’s more than two years since it was revealed in US-market form, but the fourth-generation medium SUV is here at last.
Once again it will line up against some of the market’s top-selling vehicles, including the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, and the Mitsubishi Outlander – the latter a vehicle that shares many components with the Nissan.
While the outgoing model offered a lot of metal for the money, the new iteration needs to be a leap forward when it comes to interior technology and driving dynamics if it seeks to oust the class leaders from their pedestals.
There is certainly a big audience of prospective buyers to draw on, and not just because medium SUVs are close to one-fifth of the Australian new car market by sales. Nissan itself has sold more than 282,000 previous-generation X-Trails in Australia since 2001.
“That’s a big legacy to live up to,” concedes Nissan Australia managing director Adam Paterson. “But the fourth-generation Nissan X-Trail does exactly that, arriving with more power, more capability, more technology and better safety than ever before,” he claimed.
The new X-Trail sits on a Nissan-Renault Alliance platform called CMC-F which also underpins the smaller new-generation Nissan Qashqai, as well as the aforementioned Outlander.
While it largely draws from a familiar playbook, there’s a lot that’s new here too.
How much does the Nissan X-Trail ST-L cost?
The version we’re testing here is the ST-L, which sits one rung above the base ST and one below the fancier Ti.
At $43,190 before on-road costs with five seats and front-wheel drive, it’s priced neatly between a petrol RAV4 GXL and RAV4 Cruiser. An Outlander Aspire FWD costs $42,990 and a Sportage SX+ FWD $41,500.
As the below shows, the ST-L can be had in AWD guise with two extra seats for $46,290.
2023 Nissan X-Trail pricing
- ST 2WD 5-seat: $36,750
- ST AWD 7-seat: $39,790
- ST-L 2WD 5-seat: $43,190
- ST-L 4WD 7-seat: $46,290
- Ti AWD 5-seat: $49,990
- Ti-L AWD 5-seat: $52,990
- Ti e-Power hybrid: $54,190
- Ti-L e-Power hybrid: $57,190
Prices are before on-road costs
What is the Nissan X-Trail ST-L like on the inside?
Even the lowly X-Trail ST-L comes with a proximity key that unlocks the car for you as you approach with the fob in your pocket, and unfolds the powered side mirrors.
The driver’s seat has good side and thigh support, powered adjustments including lumbar. The imitation leather trim feels and smells to be of good quality, and both front seats are heated.
I find Nissan’s new steering wheel design quite appealing. It’s trimmed in really smooth leather, with simple physical controls for volume, track skipping, scrolling through the trip computer, and adjusting the adaptive cruise control. There are also paddle shifters.
This spec level does without the full digital dash, instead featuring analogue speedometer and tachometer, flanking a small screen with a digital speedo, tyre-pressure monitor, and menu to control driver-assist functions. But it does the job just fine.
For the most part the trims used are quite tasteful, including the stitched leather door armrests, twin-opening centre console, dash padding, wood insert ahead of the front passenger, and a matte black brushed transmission tunnel.
The brown dashtop and door tops are probably a bit of a love-or-hate sort of deal, and reminiscent of what Mazda offers in the smaller CX-30, but a bit of colour rarely goes astray if you ask me.
Storage options are plentiful, including a floating centre transmission tunnel with hidden storage beneath with a rubberised base, a deep centre console, phone storage area below the climate controls, cup holders next to the small gear shifter, and bottle holders in each door.
I wish Nissan would bring back the chilled can holders of the first-generation model though!
The centre tunnel also houses an electric park brake switch, Auto Hold button, a rocket switch to cycle through three drivetrain tuning modes – Sport, Standard, Eco – and feels sturdy and solid. As do the front door trims, more so than those in the related Outlander.
The dual-zone climate control runs off simple buttons and dials, the latter of which are knurled in tasteful fashion.
This variant has the smaller of two touchscreens offered across the range and is pretty basic, but also easy to use. It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for mapping, a 360-degree camera display with a clarity superior to other Nissans, and USB points of the A and C varieties.
Yet if having a cutting-edge display is a must-have for you, I advise you step up to the Ti and Ti-L grades. The system used in these grades has nicer software design and uses more real estate, while also adding embedded satellite navigation and wireless smartphone mirroring.
The back doors open 90-degrees so are particularly child-seat friendly, and rear occupants get air vents, two USB ports, map pockets, and a pull-down centre armrest with cupholders that doubles as a ski port.
The all-new X-Trail is 10mm shorter than before (4680mm) but wider (+20mm to 1840mm), and provides more rear leg room, with bigger-opening rear door apertures for easier rear access and egress. The wheelbase remains unchanged at 2705mm.
The seat bench splits 60:40 with the larger portion on the left (kerb) side, with backrests able to recline and bases able to slide forwards and backwards.
The seats themselves are quite flat and unsupportive in the base to be honest, however there’s acres of space. I’m 194cm tall and fit comfortable behind my driving position in terms of leg, foot and headroom. The middle seat is far smaller but the floor is also fairly flat. There are outboard ISOFIX points and three top-tether points.
The boot is accessed by a manual tailgate, and there’s a bracket with a pull-out cargo cover that can be stowed under the floor when not in use.
It has two floor levels by way of two moveable pieces, which offer a hidden storage beneath when in the higher setting. There’s a hidden storage area for the jack in the side, and a space-saver spare tyre below the floor.
There are no reversible cargo floor pieces with hard plastic backs for wet objects like my T31 X-Trail had, however!
Boot space is listed as 585L with five seats in use, which compares to 465L in seven-seat versions with said third-row stowed away – meaning there’s a clear upside to ditching the sixth and seventh kid-friendly seats if you need added boot space.
What’s under the bonnet?
As with the old X-Trail there’s a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, but this iteration offers an additional 9kW and 18Nm.
Total outputs are 135kW and 244Nm – identical to the Outlander which uses the same engine.
It’s mated to a CVT, and comes with either front-wheel drive (FWD) like our test car, or with optional on-demand all-wheel drive (AWD) for an additional $3100. This AWD price premium is also inclusive of a third row of seats.
Braked trailer towing capability rises by 500kg over the previous generation, to 2000kg, while a trailer sway control program is standard.
The X-Trail e-Power hybrid drivetrain only comes in Ti and Ti-L grades.
Opting for the FWD model as tested here not only saves you a few grand, it also cuts fuel consumption from 7.8 litres per 100km to 7.4L/100km, and cuts weight by around 90kg.
How does the Nissan X-Trail ST-L drive?
Given this version is the FWD model, it’s designed for road driving. The AWD models have an on-demand system with various selectable modes that tweak drivetrain response and traction control intervention to suit a given surface type.
The engine’s outputs don’t look all that amazing on paper, but it’s quite responsive and linear in its initial power delivery, and the CVT is well tuned with stepped ‘ratios’ and no obvious tendency to rev-flare. It’s actually punchy enough to chirp the front tyres.
Motoring along at speeds from 80-110km/h across regional Victoria, the 2.5-litre four-pot quickly settles into an effortless driving experience requiring a light throttle only and making very little commotion.
The stubby shifter is well designed and engages drive or reverse using a new shift-by-wire system. It’s better thought-out than others we’ve used in more expensive makes and models.
Nissan says the new CMF-C platform enables 27 per cent greater torsional stiffness than before, while the use of ultra high-tensile steel in the body has almost doubled over the old car.
Weight savings have been found by using composite material for the the rear tailgate, and aluminium for the front and rear doors, front fenders, and bonnet.
There’s an updated MacPherson strut set-up at the front, and multi-link at the rear, while the power-steering set-up has also been upgraded, with a quicker rack ratio.
All told, the new X-Trail has more involving steering, more agility in corners, and soaks up bad roads better than before, with few imperfections filtering through to the cabin. It’s a definite step up on the old X-Trail which frankly didn’t ride all that well.
The various driver-assists (speed limit assist that can be easily made non-intrusive, lane-keeping aids via steering and vibrations, adaptive cruise control etc) all worked excellently, as reflected in its near-perfect ANCAP section score of 97 per cent.
What do you get?
X-Trail ST highlights:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Space-saver spare tyre
- LED headlights with auto on/off
- LED tail lights
- LED daytime running lights
- Power-folding, heated mirrors
- ‘Intelligent’ proximity key system
- Roof rails
- Rear parking sensors
- Cloth seats with manual adjustments
- Urethane steering wheel
- 7.0-inch TFT in instrument cluster
- Manual air-conditioning with 2nd row vents
- 8.0-inch touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay – wired
- Android Auto – wired
- Bluetooth, 4 x USB, 2 x 12V
- 6 speakers
- AM, FM and DAB+
- Reversing camera
X-Trail ST-L adds:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Front parking sensors
- Tyre-pressure monitoring system
- Rear privacy glass
- LED fog lights
- Synthetic leather seats
- Power-adjustable driver’s seat
- Heated front seats
- Dual-zone climate control
- 360-degree parking camera view
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Leather-accented steering wheel
- Divide-N-Hide cargo system
X-Trail Ti adds:
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- Chrome exterior highlights
- Adaptive headlight beam
- Powered tailgate
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Two-tone (black) roof option
- Genuine leather seats
- Power-adjustable passenger’s seat
- Tri-zone climate control
- 12.3-inch instrument cluster
- 10.8-inch head-up display
- 12.3-inch touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay – wireless
- Wireless smartphone charger
- Digital rear-view mirror
- Ambient centre console lighting
X-Trail Ti-L adds:
- Remote engine start function
- Auto-tilting side mirrors in reverse
- Hands-free power tailgate
- Driver’s seat and side mirror memory presets
- Heated steering wheel
- Rear window sunshades
- Quilted Nappa leather seats
- 10-speaker Bose sound system
The complete colour palette comprises:
- Solid White (ST only)
- Scarlet Ember (all grades)
- Brilliant Silver (all grades)
- Gun Metallic (all grades)
- Caspian Blue (all grades)
- Diamond Black (all grades)
- Champagne Silver (ST-L, Ti, Ti-L)
- Ivory Pearl (ST-L, Ti, Ti-L)
- Ceramic Grey (ST-L, Ti, Ti-L)
- Sunset Orange two-tone (Ti, Ti-L)
- Ceramic grey two-tone (Ti, Ti-L)
- Ivory Pearl two-tone (Ti, Ti-L)
- Caspian Blue two-tone (Ti, Ti-L)
Only the Ti and Ti-L grades have the two-tone colour options.
Is the Nissan X-Trail ST-L safe?
The new X-Trail scores a five-star ANCAP safety rating – based on crash testing of its Nissan Qashqai sister model in 2021.
The X-Trail scored 91 per cent for adult occupant protection, 90 per cent for child occupant protection, 74 per cent for vulnerable road user, and an excellent 97 per cent for safety assist.
Standard features on all grades:
- 7 airbags incl. front-centre airbag
- 3 x top tether points, 2 x ISOFIX points
- Reversing camera and sensors
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- Reverse AEB with Pedestrian detection
- Blind-spot assist
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Automatic high-beam
- Adaptive cruise control
- Trail sway control in ESP
ST-L and above add:
- ProPILOT with active lane-centring
How much does the Nissan X-Trail ST-L cost to run?
X-Trail is covered by Nissan’s standard five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with five years of roadside assist included. The warranty is also transferable to another owner if you decide to sell.
Servicing for both 2WD/4WD variants 10,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first. 4WD models incur a slight premium ($28 and $39 respectively) on the third and sixth service visits.
It’s worth noting that the related Mitsubishi Outlander with the same engine offers longer 15,000km intervals, and frankly 10,000km intervals are pretty old hat in 2022.
Nissan X-Trail service pricing:
- 10,000km/12 months: $363
- 20,000km/24 months: $469
- 30,000km/36 months: $504 or $532
- 40,000km/48 months: $587
- 50,000km/60 months: $409
- 60,000km/72 months: $657 or $696
CarExpert’s Take on the Nissan X-Trail ST-L
The new X-Trail is a clear improvement on the outgoing version, which held up well but was beginning to feel outclassed.
This new iteration offers a somewhat premium-feeling and generally practical interior, decent engine punch despite looking bland on-paper, better road manners, and ticks the safety boxes.
But is the ST-L the sweet spot of the range? Probably not for me, with the ST offering sharper value and the Ti adding some real Hollywood features for the extra outlay.
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