Nissan shows X marks spot for value

Large family Nissan X-Trail 4x4 offers on-road refinement, plenty of kit and a acceptable off-road p

Large family Nissan X-Trail 4x4 offers on-road refinement, plenty of kit and a acceptable off-road performance. - Credit: Nissan

Behind the chunky exterior of Nissan's X-Trail is a family-friendly soft-roader waiting to be explored.

Used Car: Nissan X-Trail (2007 onwards)

Engines – Opting for a diesel X-Trail will be a smart move. The petrol models can sometimes struggle when towing, making the diesel unit's extra torque invaluable. As with any aspect of used car-buying, opt for the latest and best you can afford, which should be either the 150 or 170 horsepower motors, although the latter is likely to be a more expensive option.

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Exterior – The X-Trail certainly looks the part of a 4x4, even if it can't quite match more expensive cars performance-wise. Its wide stance and no-nonsense appearance is convincing and, along with a surprisingly generous ground clearance, means the X-Trail can be pointed in the direction of tricky terrain with confidence.

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Interior – While the car's cabin is well appointed there's a general utility feel to the overall ambience. This is, after all, a car for active people, so the last thing you want is for it to look and feel precious. Spacious, hard wearing yet stylish, Nissan appears to have pitched the X-Trail in the right direction.

Driving – If you want the full sport utility vehicle experience the switchable all-wheel drive system works seamlessly, and the X-Trail is well mannered and refined. It's no Land Rover, but towing and slippery tracks pose few problems – just remember to opt for a diesel model to maximise the car's potential.

Ownership – Easy to park and drive around town thanks to its car-like character, the X-Trail is positively painless to own. Its on-road manners rank alongside some of the best around, while it will happily cope with a full compliment of family members and all their clobber. It'll surprise you with its ability to master modest off-road obstacles, too.

What to look for – Well used-up examples, thanks to over-enthusiastic off-roading activities, should be avoided because there's too much potential mechanical damage to deal with. Likewise, low-mileage town-based cars will have been worked hard in the brake, clutch and gearbox departments. Kerbed wheels and parking dents are the classic signs of abuse, and the former could be hiding more serious damage to the all-wheel drive system. Expect a bare minimum of clean oil, an absence of rattles and suspension 'clunks' plus a full service history.

Model history – 2007, Nissan launches its second-generation X-Trail. The large family 4x4 offers on-road refinement, plenty of kit and a acceptable off-road performance. Petrol and diesel engines offered, with all units boasting useful improvements over first-gen models. Switchable all-wheel drive plus the option of CVT auto gearboxes on selected cars completes the picture.

Reasons to buy – Capable off-road, chunky styling, refined at speed.

Reasons to beware – Not a full-on 4x4, cabin trim a little low rent.

Pick of the range – Nissan X-Trail 2.0 dCi Sport.

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