Nissan X-Trail (2013-2022) Review

Written by Andrew Brady

heycar ratingBig practical but boring SUV
  • 2013
  • SUV
  • Petrol, Diesel

Quick overview


  • Torquey diesel
  • Quiet and comfortable
  • Spacious


  • Ponderous to drive
  • Boring interior 
  • Third row is tight for adults

Overall verdict on the 2013-2022 Nissan X-Trail

"In this 2022 Nissan X-Trail review we'll be looking at a straightforward SUV offering that sticks to a simple recipe - a large, tall car that offers loads of space inside and a bit of off-road ability should you need it."

Nissan X-Trail (2013-2022) Review: exterior front three quarter photo of the Nissan X-Trail on the road

This version of the Nissan X-Trail has been around for nearly a decade, and in that time the SUV game has moved on quite a bit. Modern rivals frequently offer eye-catching looks, a slick driving experience, luxurious cabins or electrified powertrains, but the X-Trail doesn't really offer any of those.

If size is what you’re after then you’ll find plenty of it with the Nissan X-Trail. There’s more than enough space for adults in the back row and, for an extra £700, you can get a third row of seats. These are really for occasional use and will fit only smaller kids, use but they give the X-Trail added practicality - just remember to try the Skoda Kodiaq too, since it's a similar price and also provides the option of seven seats. 

If you go for a five-seat Nissan X-Trail you get a spacious 550 litre boot, which has a two-part adjustable load floor for extra flexibility. This is further enhanced by the fact the middle row of seats are mounted on runners, so you can pick between more legroom or load space. Alternatively you can fold the seats entirely to maximise carrying space. 

The engine range includes a 163PS petrol, which is a good fit for the X-Trail and provides ample performance, plus a 149PS 1.7-litre diesel. It might sound too small for such a large car but it's more than capable of hauling the Nissan X-Trail around.

Two-wheel drive is standard but for those who live in areas with a tough climate there is an all-wheel drive option. There's also a CVT transmission option which is smooth and quiet for the most part, only droning when accelerating hard. With seven seats and a reasonable 2000kg braked towing weight, the Nissan X-Trail is capable of all sorts of family tasks including caravan holidays. 

Some might think it’s too similar to the Nissan Qashqai to spend the extra money on, while rivals including the Skoda Kodiaq are plusher and more upmarket - but it’s certainly worth a look if you demand a comfortable, easy-to-drive car with plenty of space.

If you're looking for the newer model, you'll need our Nissan X-Trail review.

There's plenty of choice in the SUV market, and in truth the X-Trail isn't the best in its class. However, it is good value, offers a ton of space and with a new version announced in 2022, you might be able to bag yourself a great deal on this version.

The petrol Nissan X-Trail has enough power to get you along but it can become quite vocal if you try to hurry along, so unless you absolutely cannot live with a diesel we'd suggest going for the 1.7-litre dCi unit instead. It's actually quicker than the petrol as well as more fuel efficient. The standard six-speed manual gearbox is low effort and much better than the CVT automatic, which we'd steer well clear of. Likewise the four-wheel-drive version is unnecessary unless you have big plans to go off-road.

Of the available trims, we'd suggest going for the mid-range N-Connecta trim which adds some useful kit without breaking the bank.

If you're considering a Nissan X-Trail then space is clearly important, so definitely give the Kia Sorento some thought. It's huge inside and offers a high quality cabin with lots of equipment. It's not as cheap as it used to be unfortunately.

Arguably the best SUV in terms of value for money is the Skoda Kodiaq, which not only offers loads of space but is also packed with practical touches. The cabin is also a great place to spend time, and it's good value too.

Comfort and design: Nissan X-Trail interior

"The layout inside the Nissan X-Trail feels dated next to the Kodiaq , with the low-res touchscreen system feeling antiquated next to the huge, bright screen in the Skoda. On the plus side, space is excellent with more than enough head and legroom in the back to comfortably accomodate adults. The back seats slide forward and back too, meaning you can select between knee room and load space depending on your needs."

Nissan X-Trail (2013-2022) Review: interior close up photo of the Nissan X-Trail dashboard

Standard equipment is decent - even entry level models get alloy wheels, cruise control and hill-hold assist, while mid-level models gain extras like a panoramic roof. The best value trim level is the N-Connecta, which comes with a 360 degree parking camera, a navigation system and a powered tailgate. Moving to a top Tekna trim model adds luxuries including heated leather seats, a blind spot warning system and moving object detection.

The cabin in the Nissan X-Trail is light, spacious and reasonably well finished. The dashboard is covered in plush, soft-touch plastic while harder plastics are used elsewhere, but they generally feel hardwearing and durable. The instruments are clear and the minor controls are all easy to operate without consulting the manual - but some of the switches feel on the cheap side, especially next to a Skoda Kodiaq.

The 7-inch touchscreen system in the Nissan X-Trail feels quite outdated now, and on earlier cars you needed to chose at least the higher spec N-Connecta trim to get this. Unsurprisingly it's not lighting-fast to respond to inputs either, so you may find yourself using it less as a result.

You do get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, and unlike many newer offerings there are physical buttons around the edge of the screen to skip quickly between functions. This is somewhat offset by the relatively small screen and dated graphics though.

The Nissan X-Trail's boot is spacious at 550 litres, but that can be expanded even further if you tumble the rear seats forward. For those with larger families there is a seven seat configuration on offer, but the rearmost row of seats is too small for anything other than occasional, short trips - even for children. That's down to the tiny amount of foot and knee room on offer. 

That's another area where the Skoda Kodiaq beats the Nissan X-Trail. It's extra row of seats is surprisingly useful and, while it's also only really meant for occasional use, the kids sat back there should at least last a few more miles before they start to whine and ask "are we there yet?".

Handling and ride quality: What is the Nissan X-Trail like to drive?

"Over potholes, ripples, lumps and bumps the Nissan X-Trail's cabin is serene, absorbing everything but the most severely damaged roads. The level of comfort is further helped by good visibility and lightly-weighted, easy-to-use controls. There are extra niceties like the electronic parking brake with hill-hold function - which makes stopping and starting simple. It's very easy to drive. "

Nissan X-Trail (2013-2022) Review: exterior rear three quarter photo of the Nissan X-Trail on the road

The excellent ride quality comes at the expense of handling, though. The Nissan X-Trail isn’t a car that revels in being driven hard - pushing into bends with any pace causes noticeable body roll. However, in town, on the motorway and at more sedate speeds, the X-Trail has impressive road manners and is very relaxing and comfortable.

The engine range kicks off with a 163PS DIG-T petrol engine. This is up to the task of propelling the X-Trail, though it can get loud when accelerating hard. And, while it does the job around town and on the motorway, you'll have to pick a diesel if you live in a rural area and need all-wheel drive, or if you need an automatic transmission.

During its life the Nissan X-Trail has been offered with a number of diesel engines, including a 1.6-litre, a 1.7-litre, a 2.0-litre and in the latest cars no diesel offering at all. Of the three, we'd suggest the 1.7-litre is the best blend of performance, economy and value - the 1.6-litre is just about adequate and the 2.0-litre is only really necessary if you plan on hauling big loads.

The standard transmission is a smooth-shifting six-speed manual, but a CVT automatic is offered and it's designed to behave more like a traditional seven-speed auto, with steps programmed in rather than the usual infinitely variable gear ratios. This improves refinement under full throttle acceleration - though it still drones a little when pressing on hard. 

Unlike the previous model, the latest X-Trail is offered with two-wheel drive as standard. A 4x4 version is optional and it drives more or less exactly the same as the front-drive car, but with an automatic all-wheel drive system for slippery conditions, or the option to lock the differential. It’s useful for snowy areas or loose surfaces, but most drivers will find the front-wheel drive car more than adequate.

Whichever engine you go for there's not much in the way of noise getting through to the cabin, although the petrol engine does become more vocal if you start to extend it.

Less impressive is the amount of other noise generated on the move. Wind noise becomes noticeable even at modest speeds, and road noise also becomes quite irritating especially at motorway speeds. The Nissan X-Trail lags behind cars like the Skoda Kodiaq in this respect.

EuroNCAP tested the Nissan Qashqai way back in 2014 and awarded it the full five stars, but as the organisation consistently raises the required standards, a more modern rival with the same five star rating would likely offer a higher level of protection.

Usefully, for a family car, there is a comprehensive range of safety gadgetry on offer. Auto emergency brakes, lane departure warning, auto high beam, traffic sign recognition, automated parking assistance, a 360-degree birds-eye parking camera, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are among the technologies available - but they're not standard so be careful when configuring your dream X-Trail. 

MPG and fuel costs: What does a Nissan X-Trail cost to run?

"In a large and heavy SUV like the Nissan X-Trail, diesel engines make the most sense thank's to their lazy power delivery and improved fuel economy".

Nissan X-Trail (2013-2022) Review: exterior side photo of the Nissan X-Trail

The cheapest diesel choice is a 1.6-litre dCi diesel with 130PS and 320Nm of torque. Emissions are 129g/km with official fuel economy of 57.6mpg for the most efficient front-wheel drive manual model. In 2015 a 163PS version of the 1.6 diesel was added, with 230PS. As you might expect, economy drops with the hike in power, with a claimed 149g/km of CO2 and 45.6mpg.

How much should you be paying for a used Nissan X-Trail?

"Even the basic Nissan X-Trail comes with long list of standard equipment that makes it an easy car to live with everyday"

Nissan X-Trail (2013-2022) Review: interior close up photo of the Nissan X-Trail drive modes

Visia is the entry level model and comes with 17 inch alloy wheels and LED running lights on the outside. Inside, you get an electric parking brake, six airbags, a tyre pressure monitor system, cruise control that holds the car at a set speed, a speed limiter which can stop you speeding, a Bluetooth phone connection and air conditioning. On top of all that lot, you also get electric and heated mirrors, folding, reclining and sliding rear bench 60/40, hill start assist, front and rear power windows, rear armrest with cupholder and a spare wheel.

Acenta trim adds Privacy glass that'll help keep the interior cooler in direct sunlight, door mirrors that fold away neatly when you're parked, front foglights, plus a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob. You also get a six speaker audio, dual zone climate control with separate controls for you and your front-seat passenger, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto lights and wipers, a power sunroof along with front and rear parking sensors.

N-Connecta models represent the best value. They look sportier on the outside thanks to their 18-inch alloy wheels and satin roof rails. Inside, you get a 7-inch touchscreen with navigation, a 360-degree parking camera, hands-free tailgate, keyless entry and start, while safety is boosted with traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, auto emergency brakes, as well as front and rear parking sensors. 

Tekna is the top trim. It adds blind-spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and moving object detection – both of which can brake the car if they detect an imminent collision – auto park, plus LED headlights with auto dip and a beam that can match the shape of the road. On the outside, Tekna models get 19-inch wheels while inside, you get a leather interior, electrically adjustable front seats, heated seats front and rear, a heated steering wheel and a Bose stereo. 

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