PREPARE to be whipped into a frenzy by the 2018 Nissan X-Trail ST-L. Alright, we know that’s not quite true, and Nissan has pulled out all the stops to deliver you pretty much the same X-Trail as last year.
But that’s okay, as it’s the continuation of the model launched in May last year, and really, once you get past a few minor annoying things, the car offers good value for money and is a pleasure to drive.
For us, as reviewers, it’s easy to slip into the expectation that car companies need to be constantly innovating and changing, and bring us new and exciting editions of their wares every single year.
But in reality they don’t have to do this, unless they have serious issues with the previous model, and that is one thing you won’t find in this year’s edition of the Nissan X-Trail ST-L – no serious issues here.
On the outside we find a triangular design to the front end, which makes you start thinking back to high school trigonometry with lots of culminating angles. Right, hold that thought, it gets better.
Imagine you have a pug dog and you put both hands on either side of its face and then gently push them back to stretch the dogs face back, removing the folds and leaving only lines and your cute little dogs bottom row of teeth jutting out.
Got that image in your head, good, because that right there is the whole front end of the X-Trail. If you seriously look at the front facing photo long enough, you can’t un-see that little doggy.
The squished face lines flow back along the extra pumped up set of bonnet lines that settle into less outrageous side curves and a neatly arranged rear end; someone at Nissan definitely stretched this sucker out.
There’s nice touches of polished chrome framing the windows, with matching door handles, while the new X-Trail rides on 17-inch alloy wheels, sitting inside neatly trimmed black wheel arches, which blend into the black side skirts.
On top, it’s finished off with silver roof rails, and a colour coded shark fin antenna and rear diffuser. Step inside, and you’ll find a simple yet nice interior, comprised of different shades of black and grey, in various finishes.
Batman would feel right at home here, but the design makes sense, and flows well from one surface to the next. The entertainment system and vehicle interface are easy to use, with straight forward controls too.
Bluetooth connectivity is solid but not brilliant, with hard connections for USB, and a 3.5mm jack as well. The vehicle diagnostic systems are good too, with plenty of information available to help monitor all aspects of the vehicle.
It’s got one of the best SatNav systems we’ve used in ages, and is pretty economical to boot. We achieved 8.1-litres/100km in Eco mode, which is not bad for a solid mid-sized SUV.
It’s pretty comfy inside too, with power adjustable heated front seats up front, while the second row of seating has sliding and reclining functionality, along with 60/40 split fold and a pull down centre console with cup holders and pass through.
The third row of this seven seater is a 50/50 fold flat bench seat, but is only really suitable for young children, especially if you’re travelling for an extended period. Throw all the seats down and you get a monstrous 825-litre storage capacity.
All of this rides around on independent strut front suspension and multi link rear suspension, with front and rear stabilising bars, and speed sensitive electric power steering that makes for a pretty sweet handling vehicle.
It’s pretty responsive and feels capable on road, driven by a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine that puts out 126kW of power and 220Nm of torque, with an Xtronic CVT gearbox making the wheels go round.
It’s a little under-powered but the gearbox does a reasonable job of hiding it via some smooth gear changes. Some will say you don’t need that power, but when you’re trying to dive into traffic, and there’s no explosive power, you’ll be very disappointed.
It’s got a space saver spare if you get a flat, and if you do come properly unstuck, there’s a full compliment of airbags, traction control, dynamic vehicle control, forward collision warning, intelligent emergency breaking, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot warning.
The 2018 Nissan X-Trail ST-L is a fairly good all-round SUV, in a market flooded with good all-round SUVs, but it holds its own, offering slightly more power than similar vehicles in the range.
There’s generally nothing negative about the car, and while it’s not much to get excited about, it’s got bags full of practicality. You won’t be subdued with cool gadgets and innovative new features, but you will be happy with money, well spent.
The X-Trail comes in five different variants with a variety of engine options, with the seven seat ST-L (2WD) variant we drove pitching a drive away price of $42,488 – smack bang in the middle of the $20,000 price range between base and top-of-the-line.
It comes in a bunch of colours, including Ruby Red (our test car), Brilliant Silver, Copper Blaze, Diamond Black, Marine Blue, Ivory Pearl and Gun Metallic.
Our test vehicle was provided by Nissan Australia. To find out more about the 2018 Nissan X-Trail ST-L, contact your local Nissan dealer.