This has been a long time coming.
The Nissan X-Trail e-Power arrived in Australia early this year, belatedly giving Australian buyers the opportunity to buy an electrified mid-sized crossover from the Japanese brand.
The previous-generation model was offered with a more conventional hybrid system in other markets, but never made the trip here even as Toyota RAV4 Hybrid sales surged.
Not only have we been waiting years for a hybrid X-Trail, we’ve been waiting quite some time for this new-generation model.
It first went on sale in the US market (as the Rogue) back in late 2020, though the e-Power is a much newer addition to the global X-Trail line-up.
So, Nissan has come strolling in a few years after the RAV4 Hybrid (itself belatedly) went on sale locally, hoping to steal some buyers. It has still managed to beat the likes of Hyundai and Kia, but nevertheless this electrified X-Trail is fashionably late.
Working in its favour are significant supply issues for Toyota’s hot-selling hybrid SUV. Should buyers stay on the waiting list for their Toyota, or is the Nissan a compelling alternative?
The X-Trail e-Power range debuted with a pair of variants: the Ti, now priced at $54,690 before on-road costs, and the Ti-L, featured here and wearing a $57,690 sticker.
Nissan subsequently revealed a more affordable ST-L variant, priced from $49,990 before on-roads. Notably, Nissan is still without an alternative to the likes of the base-spec Toyota RAV4 GX Hybrid, which starts at just $42,260 before on-roads.
It has also chosen to bring only e-Power models with all-wheel drive, which it calls ‘e-Power with e-4orce’ but which we won’t because that’s a moronic name.
Our tester was finished in Champagne Silver, a beautiful, subtle colour that manages to avoid looking as boring as silver or as geriatric as beige. It, along with the other metallic shades, cost an extra $700. Add a contrasting black roof and you’re looking at a $1200 premium.
All up, our tester had a drive-away price of $63,046 based on a Sydney postcode.
The most obvious is the RAV4, which in top-spec Edge guise rings up at $58,360 before on-roads. Other top-spec hybrid mid-sizers comprise the Subaru Forester Hybrid S ($49,340), the front-wheel drive GWM Haval H6 Ultra Hybrid ($45,490 drive-away),
You could even look at plug-in hybrids with greater electric-only range, like the front-wheel drive Ford Escape ST-Line PHEV ($54,940) and MG HS Plus EV Essence ($52,690 drive-away) or an entry-level all-wheel drive Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ES ($56,490).
Seemingly every last bit of the dated third-generation X-Trail’s cabin has been banished with the new model, down to the ovoid window controls.
Instead, there’s a vastly more modern, premium-feeling cabin with an intriguing mix of colours and materials. This includes trim pieces resembling both brushed metal and open-pore wood trim, while leatherette trim can be found along the dashboard and on the sides of the centre console.
Almost every surface, bar the lowest reaches of the dashboard and doors, is finished in soft-touch trim.
In terms of ambience, the Ti-L builds on the Ti with additional ambient lighting (in the doors) and Nappa leather upholstery instead of regular hide. It’s not dramatically different in appearance, and the brown/black colourway can be found in lesser X-Trails, too. Interestingly, even the vents on the dash top are finished in brown.
The Ti and Ti-L upgrade to a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system (up from 9.0 inches), a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (up from a 7.0-inch screen), and also gain a head-up display.
Disappointingly, even in top-spec Ti-L trim there are no ventilated front seats. You also miss out on the massaging function found in the top-spec Mitsubishi Outlander.
The Ti-L does, however, bring a unique tan interior as a no-cost option, instead of the light grey option of the Ti one rung down.
There’s a bit going on with all the different materials and colours, but it’s an attractive cabin overall. A bit of ambient lighting on the dashboard itself wouldn’t have gone astray, however.
The technology is mostly good, though the X-Trail is let down by blurry, low-resolution camera footage.
The infotainment system is Nissan’s latest, with customisable menus and a row of helpful hard shortcut buttons including a day/night mode switch. Response times are quick and the graphics fairly modern, while there’s wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto.
The combination of the digital instrument cluster and head-up display addresses one of our gripes of lesser X-Trails, and both are attractive and legible.
Nissan has resisted the temptation to shift away from physical switchgear, and there remains a good amount of buttons and switches including the simple, straightforward climate control array.
Oddly, there are a handful of button blanks in this top-spec SUV, but they’re at least hidden away from view to the right of the steering wheel.
The shifter is neat-looking, though it’s not the most solid touchpoint. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is more tactile.
Visibility is good thanks to an airy glasshouse, but nevertheless Nissan has included a digital rear-view mirror. This will come in handy if you’re ever loading up enough stuff in the X-Trail’s cabin to obscure the view via the conventional rear-view mirror.
Up front, you have USB-A, USB-C and 12V outlets plus a somewhat small wireless charging pad.
In terms of storage, there’s a small glove compartment and a centre console bin of average dimensions with a Mercedes-style split lid.
There’s a handy shelf under the centre console that can accommodate some handbags, while the bottle holders can accommodate 1L bottles.
Step into the second row and you’ll find the panoramic sunroof – standard on both the Ti and Ti-L – eats into headroom significantly.
That’s not to say this has become a coupe back here, as at 180cm tall I can still sit in the slightly raised centre seat without hitting the glass. However, if you are driving around taller friends and family, they may express some discomfort.
Ingress to the second row is easy thanks to doors that open 90 degrees. Back here, you’ll find three top-tether and two ISOFIX anchor points for child seats.
In terms of amenities, there are climate controls, USB-A and USB-C outlets (one each), heated outboard seats and map pockets on the soft front seatbacks.
While the X-Trail is available with a third row of seating in petrol guise in Australia, as well as with the e-Power drivetrain in other markets, all electrified X-Trail models locally are two-row SUVs only.
The third row of the X-Trail is purely for small children – adults will find it a struggle to climb back there, while those my height will find their head up against the roof. Nevertheless, it’s disappointing a third row isn’t available even as an option here.
Open the power tailgate (with hands-free operation in the Ti-L) and you’ll find 575L of boot space; Nissan doesn’t quote a figure for space with the second row folded.
There’s still a discoloured-looking shade like in the old X-Trail, while of much greater importance is the lack of a spare wheel in the e-Power. Instead, you’re stuck with a tyre repair kit. There’s an additional 12V outlet in the cargo area.
The X-Trail’s intriguing e-Power drivetrain is quite a bit different to its hybrid rivals.
It comprises the following:
- 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder petrol engine (105kW/250Nm)
- 1.8kWh (usable) lithium-ion battery pack
- Two electric motors; 150kW/330Nm front, 100kW/195Nm rear
System power output is 157kW, though Nissan doesn’t quote a combined torque figure. It’s decently quick, however, with an observed 0-100km/h time of 7.24 seconds.
Rather than directly driving the wheels through a conventional transmission or CVT, the petrol engine is mated to a motor-generator and an inverter. The engine is therefore used to charge the lithium-ion battery pack, and the latter in turn powers the drive motors.
The set-up, therefore, is quite different to the likes of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system, while it’s also not quite a range extender – the electric-only range is so short, Nissan doesn’t even quote a figure.
Over a loop comprising a mix of inner-city, suburban and highway driving, we averaged 5.9L/100km. That was actually better than the official combined cycle claim of 6.1L/100km. That’s still not quite as good as a hybrid RAV4 (4.8L/100km) or Haval H6 (5.2L/100km), but it bests the Forester (6.7L/100km).
With Toyota having adopted hybrid technology earlier than others and making it widely available, we’ve become accustomed to the way the Japanese juggernaut’s electrified technology works.
To wit, a RAV4 Hybrid starts off in near silence and operates in EV mode up to around 30km/h before the petrol engine fires up and you get some CVT drone. The EV-like silence, therefore, is only at low speeds.
The Nissan is quite different. At highway speeds, the petrol motor is often inaudible, almost like you’re driving an electric vehicle. At these speeds, you do get a bit of tyre and wind noise, but it’s not objectionable and it’s likely noticeable only because of the almost complete lack of engine noise.
In another EV-like touch, there’s an e-pedal function like that in the electric Leaf, allowing for (mostly) one-pedal driving – the car still won’t come to a complete stop when you let off the accelerator, however.
The highway driving experience is let down only by adaptive cruise control which can be a bit dim-witted. The lane-centring isn’t the cleverest system out there, but it works acceptably, while the traffic sign recognition adeptly recognises new speed limits, and you can change the set speed with one button press. Easy!
Driver assist settings and the like are also easy to adjust on the fly, configurable not through the infotainment touchscreen but via the digital instrument cluster. The number of dings you hear from the driver assist features can be a bit much, however.
The X-Trail’s ride quality is generally smooth. It doesn’t completely iron out bumps and ruts on some of Australia’s crappier roads, but it feels neither stiff nor overly floaty. The larger 20-inch wheels of the Ti-L don’t exact a noticeable penalty on ride comfort when compared with, for example, the 18s on the ST-L.
Take it on a winding road and, while the X-Trail won’t beg you to fang it down hairpins, it comports itself quite well when the road gets twisty. Body roll is well-controlled and there’s a confident feel overall to how the X-Trail drives.
The steering is comfortably weighted, being neither overly light nor inappropriately heavy. Indeed, it’s ideally weighted for the type of vehicle this is.
The concept of Nissan’s e-Power system can be a bit to get your head around, seeing as the petrol engine exists to power the battery and not send torque directly to the wheels. A helpful energy flow readout helps you to make sense of how it all works.
The good news is that it all works mostly seamlessly, with no frustrating lurching or rough transitions. Stab the throttle and there’s a nice linear delivery of power, and the X-Trail proves responsive. Overtaking manoeuvres are a breeze.
It’s not perfect, however. It’s prone to the occasional (admittedly subdued) grumbling which can occur at unexpected times. Speaking of odd noises, the audible reversing alert to warn pedestrians may unsettle them instead – it sounds creepy.
There are three flavours of X-Trail e-Power to choose from.
X-Trail ST-L e-Power highlights:
- Privacy glass
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Automatic LED headlights
- Power-folding, heated mirrors
- 8.0-inch touchscreen
- DAB+ radio
- 6-speaker sound system
- 4 x USB points (1 x USB-A, 1 x USB-C front and rear)
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 7.0-inch instrument cluster screen
- Dual-zone climate control
- Synthetic leather-accented seats
- Heated front seats
- Power driver’s seat
- Fog lights
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Auto-dimming rear mirror
- Sliding rear seats, 40:20:40 folding
- ‘Divide-N-Hide’ cargo area system
- ProPILOT with Lane keep assist
X-Trail Ti e-Power adds:
- 5 seats
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- Panoramic sunroof
- Power tailgate
- Adaptive LED headlights
- Digital rear-view mirror
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Tri-zone climate control
- Real leather-accented seats
- 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Satellite navigation
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Wireless phone charger
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 10.8-inch projecting head-up display
- 10-way powered front passenger seat with power lumbar
- Ambient lighting (just the console)
X-Trail Ti-L e-Power adds:
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Hands-free power tailgate
- Reverse-tilt power mirrors with memory
- Remote engine start
- Heated steering wheel
- Quilted Nappa leather upholstery
- Driver’s memory seat presets
- Heated second row outboard seats
- Rear door sunshades
- Ambient interior lighting (door)
- Bose 10-speaker sound system
The X-Trail received a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on crash testing of its Nissan Qashqai sister model in 2021 with which it shares the same platform. The rating covers all petrol and e-Power variants.
It scored 91 per cent for adult occupant protection, 90 per cent for child occupant protection, 74 per cent for vulnerable road user, and 97 per cent for safety assist.
Standard features on all grades:
- 7 airbags incl. front-centre airbag
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- Reverse AEB with Pedestrian detection
- Blind-spot assist
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Automatic high-beam
- Adaptive cruise control
- Reversing camera
- Rear parking sensors
ST-L and above add:
- ProPILOT with active lane-centring function
- Front parking sensors
- Surround-view camera
The X-Trail is covered by Nissan’s standard five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with five years of roadside assist included.
Servicing is required every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first.
X-Trail e-Power service pricing:
- 10,000km/12 months: $365.00
- 20,000km/24 months: $472.00
- 30,000km/36 months: $534.00
- 40,000km/48 months: $571.00
- 50,000km/60 months: $411.00
- 60,000km/72 months: $698.00
That amounts to $3051 over six years or 60,000km, which is $5 cheaper than the X-Trail petrol over the same period. However, it’s more expensive than a RAV4.
While the Toyota only has five years of capped-price servicing, each of these visits costs just $260. Intervals are more generous, too, at 12 months or 15,000km.
The regular X-Trail feels like, well, a car. Push the right pedal to go, push the left pedal to stop.
It’s broadly competent. It doesn’t have the plushest ride nor the sportiest handling of a mid-sized SUV; it doesn’t have the flashiest technology in its segment either, but it also avoids the usability gaffes of some rivals.
It’s a pleasant if unexciting all-rounder, and worthy of your shortlist. In e-Power guise, the trusty Nissan gets a lot more interesting and yet it’s not necessarily a slam dunk.
It has quite a different approach to a hybrid powertrain from Toyota, and it proves smooth, responsive and (generally) quiet.
Frankly, I prefer the way this powertrain operates to a RAV4 Hybrid’s.
But there’s no getting around the fact this is costlier to service, less fuel-efficient (at least on paper), and not available from as low a price point, even if in top-spec guise it compares well on price.
The lack of a third row of seating also means the Nissan doesn’t have a unique selling point over the rival Toyota.
Nevertheless, this is one extremely well-rounded, handsomely appointed mid-sized hybrid SUV. Don’t feel like waiting 12 months to take delivery of a RAV4 Hybrid?
Check the Nissan out. We’d even recommend one even if waiting times disappeared overnight.
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