Just about every car maker has a contender in the hotly contested medium SUV space. Nissan is no stranger to this popular category, with the latest generation of its X-Trail now available. The ST-L is a favourite among buyers.
Tested here in the striking Scarlet Ember hue, the X-Trail ST-L competes directly with the Mitsubishi Outlander LS which this writer reviewed a short while back. Given the shared platforms, it was difficult not to draw comparison between the two as part of this review.
The new model is easy on the eye. Nissan’s design architecture is immediately evident in the front-end treatment, with plenty of chrome around a U-shaped grille, flanked by high-set squinting headlights, which perform surprisingly well after sunset.
The side profile is softer than the Outlander, but what is most obvious is the continuation of the roofline beyond the centre of the car which we’re sure helps with the feeling of size inside.
Pulling on the colour-coded door handle reveals the synthetic leather covered pews with 8-way power adjustability on the driver’s side. This also affords the first glimpse at the two-tone interior.
Yours truly for one quite likes some colour in a cabin, but would’ve wished that Nissan chose a slightly more appealing brown to add to the uppermost sections of the dashboard and door cards.
In combination with the dark charcoal faux-woodgrain section across the dash, it feels oddly like a cigar lounge without the airborne carcinogens. The leather accented seat is okay, but it doesn’t feel like you’re actually “sitting in” it.
They also feel like they sit high in the cabin even at their lowest setting, which will be a benefit for some. A leather accented adjustable steering wheel, paired with an electric shifter takes pride of place on a handsome piano black centre console as well.
All the now-prerequisite electronics are there, with an 8.0-inch touchscreen that provides adequate resolution and displays a top-down camera view, which is commendable in this grade within the range.
A 6-speaker audio system with wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is supported by four USB ports; a USB A and C up front and the same for rear occupants. The sliding and reclining rear seats are also good, with plenty of leg and head space for at least two adults.
Alternatively, three younger ones would fit too. The seats fold flat, which takes a large cargo space and makes it cavernous. The cup holders in the 40/20/40 rear seat are exposed when you do that though, which could have future ramifications.
The rear doors open to 85-degrees, making access easy. It’s a fantastic benefit for younger families and adults alike. The youngsters of the household were also suitably impressed with vision out of X-Trail, as were our more grown-up occupants.
One thing this writer found perplexing was the lack of automatic wipers, and like the Outlander, the lack of an electric rear tailgate.
Where a variant offers electric seat adjustment and a top down camera, it doesn’t make sense that such an innocuous but convenient feature be left to higher grades.
On boot space, we were particularly impressed with the “Divide-N-Hide” configurable cargo system. In essence, it’s a false floor which allows for storage underneath, or removal of the panels, which can then be placed upright to create dividers.
We do wish they had thought a little more about in-cabin storage though. The glovebox is tiny, and the centre storage bin doesn’t offer a whole lot more.
Our ST-L was a front-wheel drive and 5-seat offering. A third row can be added if you tick the “Intelligent 4×4” option, but if it’s anything like the Outlander LS, it’s only for children under-7 anyway and getting back there is more trouble than it’s worth.
The ST-L comes standard with a petrol powered 135kW, 244Nm 2.5-litre four cylinder backed by a CVT, making driving effortless. It does feel noisier in the cabin than its Mitsubishi rival/sibling, with a definite increase in tyre noise too.
Despite the above, as expected it was smooth and easy riding, and felt stable and dynamic enough when cornering, for an SUV. It lacked the at-times under-damped feeling of the Outlander as well. Nissan has obviously added a slightly different suspension tune.
Fuel consumption is claimed by Nissan to be 7.4-litres/100km. Unfortunately, we were not able to better 9.1-litres/100km with a mix of highway and city driving. Importantly, the ST-L comes with a good compliment of safety gear though.
There’s a reversing camera with moving object detection, front/rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert, intelligent forward collision warning, ProPILOT, intelligent driver alert, more airbags than you could poke a stick at and lane departure warning and intervention.
The very last system needs some attention. When merging across irregular lanes in Sydney traffic (which there are plenty of currently), it would trigger itself when presumably seeing lane markers on the road.
This saw brakes applied and moving of the steering wheel on more than a couple of occasions, if only momentarily. A minor inconvenience if the danger was real, but it wasn’t. If anything, to the uneducated or unprepared it could be plain dangerous.
Included in the driveaway price of $47,077 is Nissan’s 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 5-years of roadside assistance. It’s got a little more polish in the interior than its opponent, despite a better warranty from Mitsubishi.
If you’re in the market for a medium SUV, a test drive of the new X-Trail ST-L is definitely warranted. For more details visit Nissan Australia’s website. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.
Our test vehicle was provided by Nissan Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Nissan X-Trail ST-L, contact your local Nissan dealer. Pictures courtesy of Andrew E Hempsall.