Nissan X-TRAIL (2017 - 2021) used car review

RAC Breakdown Cover from £7 a month*

RAC Breakdown Cover from £7 a month*

*£7 a month for new, single vehicle Basic cover. Comparison based on www.theAA.com closest equivalent cover as at 12/04/24.

RAC Breakdown Cover from £7 a month*

By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

The post-2017-era facelifted version of Nissan's third generation X-Trail matured very nicely as a family-sized SUV that sat just above the brand's popular Qashqai in the company's line-up and borrowed much of its technology from that best-selling car. X-Trail buyers though, get significantly more space, with the option of seven seats in a model that's slightly tougher and more suitable for more adventurous families. In this updated form, it was smarter, more sophisticated and better connected too.

Models

5DR HATCH (PETROL - 1.6, 1.3 DIG-T / DIESEL - 1.6 DCI, 2.0 DCI, 1.7 DCI)

History

We live in the age of the SUV. And back in 2017, this was the world's best selling one, the Nissan X-Trail. To consolidate its position, this third generation model was usefully improved three years after launch to create the car we're going to look at here.

In 2017, this was a model that found itself plumb in the middle of the new car market's trendy sweet spot, with sales of SUVs by then out-stripping those of every other segment. Brands who'd anticipated this phenomenon found themselves perfectly placed to take advantage of it and Nissan was one of them, having campaigned with the X-Trail crossover since 2001. Back then, this model line competed in the section of the SUV market that Nissan by 2017 was covering with its hugely successful Qashqai. To leave space for that car, this third generation X-Trail, launched in 2014, was made a little bigger and given a 7-seat option.

Which proved to be an inspired piece of product positioning. If you included the US market (where this car was badged as the 'Rogue'), by 2017 over three-quarters of a million X-Trails were being sold globally every year, which back then made this easily the brand's best selling vehicle worldwide. An awful lot of family buyers, it seemed, liked the idea of a mid-sized Qashqai-class crossover, but needed one with a little more space and the option of a third seating row. So many in fact that by 2017, quite a few rival brands had piled into this SUV market sub-segment with fresh products aimed at meeting this demand, examples being the Skoda Kodiaq, the Peugeot 5008 and the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.

Nissan responded to this just as it did to the tidal wave of competition thrown against the five-seat-only third generation Qashqai model that shares virtually all of this car's engineering. Namely, to assure us that the original was still the best and to underscore that fact with the introduction in the Summer of 2017 of the small but significant package of upgrades that created the facelifted version of the MK3 model that we're going to look at here. These delivered smarter looks, extra luxury, stronger standards of safety and even the option of an autonomous driving aid.

The initial range with this facelifted X-Trail gave customers a choice between 1.6 and 2.0 dCi diesels and a 1.6 DiG-T petrol unit. Further changes followed in 2019, when a 1.7 dCi diesel replaced the 1.6 dCi and 2.0 dCi units; and a 1.3-litre DIG-T petrol variant was introduced to replace the 1.6 DiG-T petrol unit. This MK3 X-Trail finished production in 2021; a fourth generation model launched in the Autumn of 2022.

What You Get

This improved post-'17-plate-era version of the third generation X-Trail model, like the original model, wants you to know that it's a fully-fledged SUV - but one you could live with. Family buyers shouldn't be daunted by the idea of trading up from, say, a mid-sized MPV or Mondeo-segment estate into a car of this kind and here, they won't be. Probably the key aesthetic change made to this revised MK3 model was the addition of the latest version of Nissan's distinctive 'V-Motion' front grille. This frames a smarter corporate badge and cuts deep down into the re-styled bumper, its outer edges featuring smarter rectangular fog lamps.

And up front? There's still nothing here that'll scare Audi or Mercedes, but thanks to the well-judged package of improvements made to this revised MK3 model, the cabin ambience took a welcome step up-market. What about the second row? Well once inside, you'll find a bench that can slide backwards or forwards over a 260mm range. The backrests recline too. As for the third row seating, well you'll need to show a degree of athleticism to get to them which might be beyond granny if you're thinking of confining her there on your Sunday afternoon trip out to the garden centre. But then, as with most SUVs in this class, these extra pews are really only intended for children - or medium-sized adults on short journeys.

As for the boot, well once the tailgate raises - from new it could be had with optional power-assistance - 135-litres of room is revealed if you've a 7-seat variant and have all three seating rows in place. Usually of course, you'll have the extra pews folded into the floor, in which case 445-litres of room can be freed up. If you've opted for a five-seat-only X-Trail variant, that figure will rise to 565-litres. Either way, the clever double load floor enables you to make the most of the space on offer, allowing you to divide the cargo area into upper and lower sections through eighteen different settings. If you need more room and have both seating rows folded, a vast 1,996-litre capacity is possible.

We can see why the third generation X-Trail model was so successful for Nissan, particularly in this updated form. It offers enough crossover cues to make you feel acceptably trendy but also sufficient size and space to make owners also feel that they've bought into something smartly sensible. Plus of course it's perfect for those who've considered a slightly smaller Qashqai-class model - or owned one - but now need something more practical.

Of course, you can't have everything. This car doesn't drive with quite as much verve and flair as a smaller SUV, but we can't blame Nissan for that. This is, after all, a slightly larger vehicle. Overall, the changes made to this revised model didn't hugely change its buying proposition but it remains a starting point for anyone buying a family-sized SUV in this segment with up to seven seats in the 2017-2021 period. If that's you and you're looking for an SUV of this kind, then 'X' may very well mark the spot.

What You Pay

Please fill in the form here for an exact up-to-date information.

What to Look For

While plenty of X-Trail owners in our survey were very happy with their cars, we also came across a surprisingly large number who'd had a whole catalogue of problems. We heard reports of infotainment screen freezing, handbrakes not working and an engine warning light flashing on. In one case the hands-free 'phone feature didn't work either; look out for all these things on your test drive.

The pre-facelift model exhibited a number of owner problems it's also keeping an eye out for. One buyer had issues with the front brake discs warping after just 10,000 miles; watch out for graunching sounds as you stop. Another owner experienced issues with the keyless ignition system and the auto stop/stat set-up. Plus his dCi X-Trail was diagnosed as failing to regenerate its DPF diesel particulate filter, something heralded by the DPF fault light illuminating. Apparently this happens if dCi versions of the car aren't driven frequently enough at higher speeds on the highway and requires a static regeneration at a dealership. We also came across plenty of reports of rattling and flexing noises from the dashboard, the door panels, the sunroof and the seats. Look out for all these things on your test drive as well as the usual things - scratched alloy wheels, interior child damage and signs of over-enthusiastic off roading.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2017 X-Trail 1.6 dCi ex VAT) An air filter will be priced in the £7 bracket, an oil filter will sit in the £5 bracket, a fuel filter will be around £27 and an alternator will be around £272. Front brake pads are in the £21 to £54 bracket for a pair, with rears pads in the £17-£37 bracket. Front brake discs cost in the £51-£102 bracket, with rear discs in the £54-£92 bracket. Wiper blades cost in the £2 to £12 bracket each. A starter motor will cost around £195.

On the Road

Like most of its similarly sized rivals, this X-Trail isn't one of those SUVs that'll encourage you into finding a twistier route back from the supermarket, despite an Active Trace Control system that imperceptibly brakes individual wheels through tighter bends to reduce understeer and quicken progress through the turns. What it can do though, is smooth your way over bumpy surfaces thanks to a multi-link rear suspension system denied to most versions of the brand's smaller Qashqai SUV. This is engineered to work with an 'Active Ride Control' system that monitors the road surface to detect undulations which could potentially cause the car to pitch about, then altering the damping to compensate.

None of this changed as part of the package of improvements made to this revised MK3 model and the engine line-up was (initially) the same too, buyers offered a choice of three different units. Most looking for a '17 or '18-plate X-Trail opt for the 1.6-litre dCi 130 diesel - and there was a 1.6-litre DIG-T 163PS petrol powerplant too. Towers looking for a '17 or '18-plate X-Trail will want the top 2.0-litre dCi 177PS variant, which (like the 1.6 dCi) could be paired with both 4WD and Nissan's 'Xtronic' CVT auto transmission (with earlier X-Trails, you couldn't have both at the same time). Original customers could also specify these two features separately, though only on a diesel model. In 2019, the two diesel engines made way for a single 1.7 dCi diesel unit (again available with 4WD and a CVT auto); and the 1.6 DiG-T petrol unit was replaced by a more frugal 1.3 DiG-T petrol powerplant. All post-2017-era X-Trails could be had with the option of a 'Pro-Pilot' autonomous driving aid for highway use. The optional ALL MODE 4x4-i system is a capable set-up but your off road adventures will need to be limited to light field tracks. Still, the commanding driving position makes you feel that more would be possible and for most buyers, that'll be all that really matters.

Overall

We can see why the third generation X-Trail model was so successful for Nissan, particularly in this updated form. It offers enough crossover cues to make you feel acceptably trendy but also sufficient size and space to make owners also feel that they've bought into something smartly sensible. Plus of course it's perfect for those who've considered a slightly smaller Qashqai-class model - or owned one - but now need something more practical.

Of course, you can't have everything. This car doesn't drive with quite as much verve and flair as a smaller SUV, but we can't blame Nissan for that. This is, after all, a slightly larger vehicle. Overall, the changes made to this revised model didn't hugely change its buying proposition but it remains a starting point for anyone buying a family-sized SUV in this segment with up to seven seats in the 2017-2021 period. If that's you and you're looking for an SUV of this kind, then 'X' may very well mark the spot.

RAC Breakdown Cover

Join the RAC and get Breakdown Cover. Our patrols fix most breakdowns on the spot, with repairs done in just 30 minutes on average.

RAC Breakdown Cover
RAC Breakdown Cover