Review & Pictures By Zachary Ho


What’s The X-Trail?

A box – that just about sums up the first generation X-Trail, but in a good, rugged way. Those who regarded the Honda CR-V or the Ford Escape too ‘soft’ would be sitting in an X-Trail. That same rugged square continued in the second generation but it was too urban in its specifications and consumer preferences had changed by then.

How Does It Look?

The new X-Trail is a departure from the last. Styling is contemporary yet still muscular. Elements that are prevalent among the new Nissans like the thick stylized V-bar on the grille and the curvaceous front fenders translate to a more dynamic outlook on the X-Trail. Many current SUVs either look too masculine or too urban but with the X-Trail, the compromise between the two extremes seems to work well.

First impressions you get is “Murano!” but it’s actually more understated, like the Pathfinder. Those outrageous boomerang-shaped lights of the Murano are still represented but in a subdued manner – nestled within straight-lined clear lens casings.


What’s Inside?

There is generosity inside in terms of space. A 5+2 seater, the 3rd row seats are more suitable for hauling short people over long distances or long people over short distances. But keep the rear as a 550-liter cargo space and you get ample legroom for the 2nd row (which slides fore and aft) passengers.

Fold down the 2nd row and you’ll get 1,520 liters of space to fill. But while the 3rd row seats fold easily and the tonneau cover gets dedicated storage (unlike some SUVs that require you to leave the cover at home or the mall parking lot), the 2nd row isn’t quite the straightforward one-handed fold-down I expected.

Yet it doesn’t stop the cabin from being flexible in configuration and as consolation, you get Zero Gravity front seats, which essentially tries emulate the natural position your body takes in a zero-gravity environment. What you get are seats that offer support at key points thus providing comfort and reducing fatigue. And they are most comfortable.

The dashboard exits Squareville and enters Curvetown making it look more a sedan/urban crossover than chunky 4-wheel-drive. The center stack is dominated by the touchscreen and above it well-placed center air vents that don’t freeze your left hand. The layout of buttons and switches is logical and no-fuss. That said, buttons on the steering don’t feel fiddly but could do with a little more premium-ness.

In between the tacho and speedometers lies a 5” Advance Drive Assist Display that has everything from fuel economy to torque allocation to your radio station info at your fingertips.


What’s Powering It?

The top dog is a 2.5-liter 4WD (review unit) while the base variant is a 2-liter 2WD. All variants have twin CVTC and the latest 7-speed Xtronic CVT gearbox with Eco mode. The 2.5 liter engine in an improved QR25DE, that gives 171PS and 233Nm of torque.


How’s Does It Drive?

For an SUV, it rides quite comfortably. Add in the very decent noise insulation, stability and higher quality cabin and you have an experience not too dissimilar to a sedan’s. The 171PS available is good enough to move this vehicle briskly and the CVT seldom misses a beat. Even if it does, you’re able to manually select your desired gear.

In this new X-Trail you get a slew of electronic driving aids called Active Chassis Control. These aids work in the background much like stagehands who make sure the show goes on and the audience have a good time.


One of these is Active Trace (not Traction) Control which senses your speed and steering and helps you steer through a corner without going wide. But it doesn’t mean you can swing this car into a corner like a low-riding roadster. The laws of physics still apply. Another feature that helps increase comfort is Active Ride Control which smooths out the ride after you hit a bump by adjusting braking and engine torque.

Many of the driving aids (listed below) help tremendously not just in regular driving or wet weather but off-road as well. The X-Trail was taken to a little farm in the countryside that had a variety of terrain – potholes, deep puddles of water, uphills, downhills, sandy patches, mud, gravel etc. Leaving the 4×4-i system in Auto mode (except when the ground got really mushy), I felt in control all the time. It didn’t feel large at all on the tight tracks.

That’s because you have the help of four tiny cameras (on each wing mirror, the tailgate and nose) that give you a panoramic view of your surroundings, whether it’s a rock out of sight, a ditch or a napping cat.

What About The Safety Features?                              

Active Chassis Control – Active Ride Control, Active Engine Brake, Active Trace Control; Hill Start Assist; All-Mode 4×4-i System; Hill Descent Control; Active Brake Limited Slip; Vehicle Dynamic Control with Traction Control; 2 airbags; Anti-lock Braking System; Electronic Brake-force Distribution; Brake Assist; Auto Headlamp Leveller; Auto Headlamps; Cruise Control; Reverse Camera with 360-degree Around View.

Who Gets It?

Not many SUVs offer seating for 7 and priced at RM160k. And not many can be as capable off-road (such as traversing a farm) as on. The 2-airbag count can be seen as a downer but it is mitigated by a host of driving and safety aids. But overall, it’s a practical SUV that’s easy on the eyes, easy to handle and quite comfortable for the family, as long as you don’t stuff anyone over 5’ in the third row.

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