review 2018 nissan x-trail 4x4 CVT

Judging a person’s physical appearance is easy. You only need to stare at the face for, say, ten seconds, and you will be able to tell if the person is attractive. However, if you need to assess the level of intelligence, then you need to take your time to know the person better.

The same goes in judging a car. You can’t understand it without getting behind its wheel. So, when Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) brought the refreshed 2018 X-Trail last year – that comes with its unique Nissan Intelligent Mobility – I couldn’t say no to learning its smart features better.

4.1 / 5
Review: 2018 Nissan X-Trail 4x4 CVT
Engine Output (HP), Acceleration, Transmission, Handling
Exterior & Interior Design, Quality, Fit and Finish, Ergonomics
Ride Comfort
Cabin Comfort, Suspension, NVH Insulation
Safety and Technology
Convenience Technologies, Active and Passive Safety Features
Value for Money
Amount of the vehicle you get for the price, Fuel Efficiency
What You Will Like
  • Plethora of safety and convenient features.
  • Power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats.
  • Handles well.
What You Won't Like
  • Oddly-placed ECO button.
  • 3rd row is a bit cramped.
  • Display head unit could have been bigger.
How We Do Our Reviews

Before I delve into the new X-Trail’s intelligence, let’s take a peek at its fresh look.

Don’t expect in-your-face changes, though, but they’re there. It gets a slightly redesigned fascia: A wider V-Motion grille, reshaped fog and LED headlamps and restyled daytime running lights (DRL). The latter is the exclamation point to this car’s design – the DRLs appear like arrows pointing towards the X-Trail’s grille as if saying “Hey, look at me. I’m the sixth member of the Voltes V.”

Kidding aside, the 2018 Nissan X-Trail is still as beefy as the outgoing one, but with a more imposing appeal. And, I like it.

In profile, a new set of 19-inch dual tone alloy rims and a shark’s fin antenna have been made available for the latest Nissan model. The rear, on the other hand, only gets less chrome accents around the reconfigured taillights.

I also appreciate some of its novelties like the cladding that runs throughout the underside of the vehicle. Despite the posh nature of the car, the matte black lining tells you that it’s ready to go anywhere, anytime.

Inside, the changes are also subtle. The facelifted X-Trail gets revamped door finishers and instrument panel accents, shift knob design, center console, and D-shaped steering wheel. Meanwhile, the soft leather all over the cabin gives this 7-seater an upmarket feel.

All the controls inside the 2018 X-Trail are intuitive, has responsive feedback, and within an arm’s reach during the drive except for the green ECO button which is oddly placed at the left-bottom side of the steering column.

That isn’t a big issue, really, but if you’re the type who switches from normal to ECO mode quite often (like me!), it can be quite annoying in the long run. Nevertheless, convenient features like the automatic headlamps and rain wipers, speed-sensing door locks, and power-folding side mirrors are huge plus.

Creature comfort inside the 2018 X-Trail is notable, while the driver and front passenger can easily find their sweet spot in its power-adjustable bucket seats that come with lumbar support. Steering wheel is also telescopic.

As for the rear passengers, legroom is more than enough for someone standing below 5’9”, and it’s quite cozy especially with the rear air vents. Plus, there’s the panoramic sunroof to add ambience during daytime.

Aside from Nissan’s famed air conditioning, the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) from the outside are well-insulated. The new X-Trail produces decent-sounding speakers, and has a display head unit that is easy to pair up with smartphones via Bluetooth or USB. Although, it could have been better if there’s an extra USB or 12V port for every occupant’s charging convenience.

I’ve mentioned that the X-Trail is a 7-seater, but, it’s more of a 5+2 as the third row is a little cramped for two adults. You can slide the second row forward to give enough legroom for the third row but that will mean less space for the middle occupants. This seems okay for driving with kids or for having short drives, but is not really pleasant for long trips.

The 2018 X-Trail has enough trunk capacity to fit up to five or six gym bags, but if you want more space, the third row backrests can be folded flat easily. The best part of the boot is its power tailgate that can be opened in three ways: (1) by pressing and holding the trunk opener on the key fob; (2) by pressing its button by the tailgate; and (3) our favorite, by putting your foot under the rear bumper. Cool, isn’t it?

Under the hood of the 2018 X-Trail 4x4 is a 2.5L gasoline engine that produces 169 hp and 233 Nm of torque. Even with its massive body size and weight added by the 4x4 mechanism, these figures are more than enough to pull the crossover easily. With its continuously variable transmission (CVT), the engine responds to pedal inputs accurately.

I experienced a tiny bit of delay, yes, but the new X-Trail’s response was faster than the other CVTs out there. Besides, there is an option to switch to manual mode at any time which would turn the gearbox into a 7-speed transmission by using the gear shift lever. There’s also hill start assist and descent control, so my drive was covered even in steep inclines.

Handling the X-Trail is easy with its dynamic steering feel. At slow paces, it’s light to steer, which was an advantage for me when I maneuvered in tight spaces and drove within the city. At higher speeds, the wheel got heavier — a welcome trait for a stable and planted cruise on the highway. Speaking of the highway, this compact crossover’s cruise control made my highway run blissful.

Suspension leans toward the soft side, so road imperfections were absorbed effectively. As a trade-off, body roll was noticeable especially in sharp zigzags but that’s understandable with this the X-Trail relatively high ground clearance. It also has an intelligent 4x4 system that can detect slippage and rough roads to keep you on track.

As most exciting feature, the 2018 X-Trail arrives with a new set of smart technology called Nissan Intelligent Mobility. With cameras all over the car (front, back and under the side mirrors), the latest version of this popular Nissan compact crossover displays an Around View Monitor that makes parking easier with its 360-degree overhead view.

Although it comes with a small screen that some might take a while to get used to, this monitor is perfect when you’re unsure if the car can fit through a very narrow space. It only works when running under 10 km/h, which makes perfect sense since who would really speed up in tight alleys, right?

In addition, its blind-spot monitors and rear-cross traffic alert work seamlessly, adding safety and confidence while on a multi-lane avenue or when backing up.

The new X-Trail also has Forward Collision Warning and Intelligent Emergency Braking that detects imminent contact with objects in front, such as cars, walls, among others. The warning works at speeds below 50 km/h (but we never tested the emergency brakes as we couldn’t  damage a test vehicle in case it malfunctioned).

In terms of fuel-efficiency, the X-Trail registered 6.2 km/l at an average speed of 15 km/h. Faster pace at 60 km/h read 13.6 km/l, while highway stints at steady 90 km/h consumed 16.4 km/l. It’s a bit of a drinker, yes, but engaging the ECO button can boost these figures to around 12% in exchange for a tad less power.

With all things considered, the 2018 Nissan X-Trail is indeed an intelligent car and a good-looking machine with a price tag of P1,728,000 (pre-excise tax). Could I say that it’s a practical choice? With no doubt, it’s a yes, given the traffic conditions in Metro Manila and the driving habits of metro drivers.

Plus, whether driving along the highway, in the city, on tough inclines, or even in parking lots, the intelligent features of the 2018 Nissan X-Trail are definitely helpful. And, for a compact crossover with such exciting features and intelligence, I must say that its price tag isn’t bad at all.

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