Published on May 27th, 2015 | by Subhash Nair


Nissan X-Trail 2.0L CVT: Versatile Value on Wheels

The Nissan X-Trail was once a rugged but boxy looking machine that burst onto the scene in the early 2000s as an passenger vehicle with the looks of an off-roader. Its replacement in 2007 retained the same blocky overall look, but with more rounded panels and elongated proportions. This new X-Trail diverts completely from its predecessors, building on a Common Module Platform engineered and shared with Nissan’s French partner, Renault. Almost instantly, one can tell that this SUV is a lot more like a crossover than its predecessors, with styling cues taken from the Murano (the V-motion front grille is an obvious one) and curves nearly everywhere you look.


It may look like a smaller car from the pictures, but on paper and up close it’s just a tad larger in almost every way, save perhaps its height. The design departure was quite necessary for Nissan, especially when you consider how sedan-like its rivals are starting to look, so you can’t really blame them for abandoning the classic look.
Regardless, it’s a pretty good-looking vehicle and despite the changes, the design seems altogether familiar, so it doesn’t draw much attention. Perfect for those who prefer a car that’s quiet rather than flashy. The biggest complaint is that the rear could have done with a more modern look to match the front. Clear lens brake lights are getting a bit out of fashion – LED clusters would have been a better choice.



The interior is almost entirely covered in black plastics, with faux-metal trim pieces around the air vents, steering, gear shifter and door handles. There’s also a rather nice matte grey piece of trim on the passenger’s side of the dashboard. If Nissan had used that material instead of the cheap looking black plastic on the centre console, they would have ended up with one of the most pleasant and composed interiors in the segments. In fact, some of the other material choices in the X-Trail are a bit underwhelming. It all works well, but a premium cabin this is not. If the fabric seats on the 2.0 version are not to your liking, combination leather can be had for an extra RM2,800.

Despite the good job Nissan did on the actual layout of the dashboard, there was a small problem with the door handle position. In the picture below, you can see that the central locking button is slightly obstructed. It’s still accessible, but the driver’s hand can’t move from the steering wheel to the door lock in as smooth a motion as one would like. It’s a very minor complaint, but surely something that can be improved upon.


That being said, there’s a whole lot of surprisingly premium features that even this 2.0-litre base model has as standard. Take the instrument cluster. Between the tachometer and speedometer, there’s a small colour screen that can display a number of things. One of the more noteworthy components is the Chassis Control, which according to Nissan, dynamically applies brakes to individual wheels to lessen the impact of bumpy road surfaces. It can even employ engine braking via the next-gen XTRONIC CVT gearbox during corners, allowing for a much smoother driving experience with the X-Trail.


It’s all very subtle, and it’s difficult to say if the features actually aid in a big way, but the vehicle is very comfortable and easy to drive, so perhaps Nissan’s new tech is a step in the right direction. It’s also nice that all of these new technologies, along with Vehicle Dynamic Control, Traction Control, ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist come as standard.


Another premium goody is the 360 degree bird’s-eye view display for reverse parking. That’s right, the car has cameras all around it which provide the driver with a complete picture of the car’s surroundings during parking. It’s still a little grainy, but the execution of the system is very well done overall.

The media head unit is a decent enough 5” touch screen capable of a variety of inputs, including USB and 3.5mm Auxiliary audio. We’d recommend the 8” version which comes with Bluetooth, though RM3,800 is quite a bit of money for something that should be standard. Where the X-Trail really shines is in its passenger comfort and seating configurability. Nissan used what it calls its ‘Zero-gravity’ inspired seats, which are extremely comfortable and cushy, and so is the ride. Overall, the X-Trail does well in this department. But perhaps the interior’s strongest point is the sheer number of seating configurations available.


There’s the standard 5+2 arrangement, where the front seats and 2nd row of seats can slide forward for evenly distributed leg space. It helps that both seats at the front are electronically adjustable, with the driver getting an 8-way adjuster with lumbar support. In this standard layout, there’s enough room for adults at the rearmost row, but at a bit of a squeeze. The rear seats can also be folded down as one would expect, but so can individual seats on the 2nd row, giving X-Trail owners a wide variety of setups to choose from.

On to the actual performance of the car. Yes, it rides well, and there’s enough power on the 2WD 2.0 model to get the vehicle up to a decent speed, but if you’re going to hauling 7 people AND some luggage around often, we suggest the 2.5-litre variant. The 2.0-litre was way too loud to operate mainly because of the CVT gearbox, which was constantly looking for optimum power output.


The noise is fairly well dampened, but it still makes its way into the cabin as a distant but present whine. There is a 7-speed manual mode available, but really using it is just going to waste a lot more petrol and energy. Plus, shifting up a gear requires a push and shifting down uses a pulling motion. It may work for some, but it’s on backwards if you asked me.

That being said, the new X-Trail makes for a pretty decent package and with a selling price of RM136,188.16, it’s sure to be a no-brainer for some. A real shame that the 7-seater only comes with 2 airbags, especially when you consider that there are smaller crossovers with fewer seats at lower price points that come with 6 airbags. The Nissan gets away with this though since it has plenty of safety features that do come as standard on the car. For those looking for a well-built, easy to drive (and park) SUV, then consider the 2.0L CVT Nissan X-Trail as a top contender.

Nissan X-Trail 2.0L CVT
Engine: 4-Cylinder, 16 Valve, DOHC, Twin CVTC
Displacement: 1,997cc
Transmission: Next-gen XTRONIC CVT with 7 speed mode
Max Power: 144PS @ 6000RPM
Max Torque: 200Nm @ 4,400RPM
Fuel Tank Capacity: 6oL
Selling Price: RM136,188.16

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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