► New 2018 MY Nissan X-Trail
► Full review, specs, ratings
► A mild mid-life facelift
We've already tested the newly facelifted 2018 Nissan Qashqai and today we're reviewing its tougher, slightly gnarlier big brother, the Nissan X-Trail.
The two cars share much of their hardware, wrapped in different couture: the Qashqai mops up the (large numbers of) families who may be stepping from a hatchback or small family car, while the X-Trail is aimed more at folk who want more space, a smidge more mud-pluggery and the ability to carry six passengers.
This is an important car for Nissan: it claims the X-Trail is the world's biggest-selling SUV with 766,000 sold globally in 2016, largely thanks to its rebadged status as the Nissan Rogue in the US where it finds nearly a third of a million homes a year.
It's also the company's flagship crossover, crowning one of the most diverse SUV ranges around, stretching from quirky Juke to slick Qashqai, practical X-Trail to chunky Navara pick-up.
What's new on the Nissan X-Trail for the 2018 facelift?
This is a delicate, modest upgrade, it's fair to say. Nobody will fail to recognise this as an X-Trail and the new, wider grille, bumpers and headlamp graphics provide only a little extra pizzazz.
Read on for our full 2018 model year Nissan X-Trail review.
The front headlamps now include adaptive turning function on top-spec Tekna models equipped with LED lights. It's the first time this tech has featured on a Nissan car in Europe.
You'll also spot the new 2018 model year Nissan X-Trail by rectangular, not circular, foglights and the addition of four new colours, including rustic oranges, browns and ruby reds. Oh, and higher-spec models get chrome detailing along the flanks.
What about the new 2018 Nissan X-Trail interior?
In line with the Qashqai's facelift, the X-Trail cabin has been lightly revised, but it's hardly much to write home about. There's the same new 'flat-bottomed' steering wheel to make getting in and out easier and provide a better view of the dials. It's heated, too. Yes, this is headline news on the '18 facelift.
So not much has changed, but it remains an unremittingly practical, focused place to sit. Around 40% of Brits order the X-Trail as a seven-seater, and the two pop-up rear seats provide useful school-run or get-home-from-pub accommodation to children or adults, if they're prepared to squish a bit. The middle row slides back and forth to juggle space front and rear.
Nissan says that nearly two-thirds of customers have outdoorsy hobbies; bikers and hikers will love the big 565-litre boot, up 15 thanks to new, flatter bootside mouldings. And waggle-foot-to-open-tailgate functionality is new for 2018 (shame it takes an interminable seven seconds to open; we'd rather DIY).
It's all finished in that typically Nissan mass-market quality; this is no premium cabin, but it is well screwed together and feels built to last. The interior pictured above is equivalent to the UK's top Tekna trim, accounting for nearly half of all sales here.
Cheap Lego-alike plastics sit cheek-by-jowl alongside some smarter, softer-touch materials.
Of more interest is the new tech offered by the 2018 facelift. The rear seats can now be heated for the first time (though only as a bench, not individually), a new eight-speaker Bose stereo should delight audiophiles and the usual host of electro gizmos is now offered (radar-controlled emergency braking; rear cross alert to warn if you're reversing into traffic; and ProPILOT coming in 2018 will bring some light autonomous self-driving in jams and on highways).
How does the new Nissan X-Trail drive?
Considering the X-Trail and Qashqai share the same engineering hardware dubbed CMF1 since 2014's Mk2, they drive in subtly different ways. Nissan has lavished more sound-deadening and measures to quell noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) on the QQ than the X, and it shows.
The X-Trail rides with more bounce and hop, especially on the bigger rims (up to 19 inches in diameter) and there's more engine noise from the 1.6 dCi too. Reflecting a modest extra bit of soft-roader DNA, the X-Trail rides on M&S all-seasons tyres, where the Qashqai is shod with summer rubber.
All in all, the Japanese-built X-Trail feels a bit more cumbersome than the Sunderland-produced Qashqai - and that should be no surprise. Its wheelbase is 70mm longer, its body is taller and the kerbweight is heavier.
That it's louder too, with more wind and road noise, reflects how Nissan has added more sound deadening to the QQ crossover - with extra Teflon detailing on the door seals, no less - but not here.
Choose from a brace of diesels and one petrol engine:
- dCi 130 diesel Likely to be bestseller; a sound all-rounder
- dCi 177 diesel Punchy performance if you can afford it
- DIG 163 petrol Pleasing balance; can't match diesels' CO2
All are front-wheel drive, unless you spec AWD on either diesel. Traction is strong with all-wheel drive and a slightly higher ride height means you can negotiate rural tracks and grassy fields with surefooted security.
The Nissan X-Trail misses out on some of the extra refinement lavished up on the 2018 model year Nissan Qashqai - and it shows. However, the X remains a sensible proposition if you need seven seats, a big boot and a tough, family-friendly crossover.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport drives better and the VW Tiguan rival smashes the quality issue, but the big Nissan fights back with a pleasing honesty. It's big, sensible, practical transport for large broods.
Read all our Nissan reviews here