Richard has worked for a wide variety of publications since the late 1990s, writing about as well as photographing modern and classic cars.
The original Nissan X-Trail went on sale in 2001, with its successor arriving in 2007. The third-generation Nissan X-Trail shown here, was first seen in September 2013 and it went on sale in the UK the following summer. As a result this is a car that's getting on, and most of its full-sized SUV rivals are significantly newer. Those alternatives include the Peugeot 5008, Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe, Skoda Kodiaq, SEAT Tarraco and Honda CR-V.
Nissan has given the X-Trail a regular nip and tuck to keep it competitive in terms of equipment levels, while it still looks smart. So it's no wonder owners seem to like their X-Trails, as within the Nationwide Vehicle Contracts owner review section they give the smart-looking SUV an average score of 4.3 out of five, with comments such as:
Is the Nissan X-Trail a seven-seater? Well, it can be. While five seats are standard across the range, for an extra cost you can get an extra pair of pop-up seats in the boot - something well worth specifying even if you need them only occasionally.
The middle row of seats slides back and forth so you can choose the optimum amount of legroom for rows two and three, although that third set of seats is claustrophobic for adults. But with an adjustable back rest, a 60/40 split-folding facility, and the option to fold the second and third rows completely flat, the X-Trail is a very practical car as you would expect.
The X-Trail is also great for carrying stuff. With all seven seats in use the boot can stow just 135 litres, but if you drop those seats down this jumps to 445 litres, and with the middle row folded flat too you've got a massive 1996 litres at your disposal, which puts the X-Trail among the class best.
Incidentally, one thing that many of the X-Trail's rivals don't come with, is a spare wheel, but the Nissan gets one as standard throughout the range.
Nissan plays the value card very heavily with the X-Trail, so the interior is crammed with equipment. However, while large touch-screen displays have started to become the norm within this segment, the X-Trail's age shows with its dashboard that's well stocked with buttons to control everything. To many drivers that's a good thing; the dash is busy but it's generally intuitive, although some of the switchgear is positioned rather haphazardly.
There are plenty of cubby holes for oddments with a decent glovebox, plenty of cupholders, a decently sized box in the centre console, plus plenty of storage space in each of the door bins. The multimedia system works well enough and it's user-friendly, but the display is quite small and some of the graphics are dated compared with rivals.
All X-Trails come with height adjustment for the driver's seat along with reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel, so it should be easy to get comfortable, unless you're especially short or tall. All-round visibility is on a par with most modern cars, which all feature thick pillars for crash protection, but one thing that the X-Trail can beat some of its rivals on is the sizeable door mirrors which give an excellent view of the road behind.
Even better, if you're parking up you can make use of the around-view feature that's standard on the Acenta Premium, which sits just above the entry-level Visia. This also brings navigation, while the range-topping Tekna comes with a full suite of driver assistance features such as blind spot warning and self parking, along with heating not just for the front seats, but also for the middle row too.
The relatively small diesel engine offers better performance than you might expect, and while it's no road rocket this unit has plenty of power for long-distance motorway drives. Many X-Trail models come only with front-wheel drive but there are four-wheel drive options too. Known as intelligent four-wheel drive, this set-up gives you the best of all worlds in that only the front wheels are driven until they start to lose grip, then the power is also sent to the rear wheels in the blink of an eye, to keep you moving. This helps to cut fuel consumption while also improving safety.
A single plug-in hybrid engine is also available. This combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor for a maximum output of 222bhp and up to 34 miles on electric-only power. Vauxhall claims the PHEV is capable of 192mpg (WLTP) and emits just 31g/km of CO2, making it a popular choice with company car drivers.
Out on the road, the Vauxhall Grandland combines comfort with efficient performance. While it lags behind the Citroen C5 Aircross for bump absorption, it handles well and offers a relaxing drive. It's also relatively quiet and easy to manoeuvre, particularly around town, where its light steering helps you easily negotiate busy city streets or tight parking spaces.
The X-Trail is starting to show its age, but don't be too quick to write it off as there's still plenty to like about it. For starters it's well equipped, with all X-Trails featuring alloy wheels, air-con, cruise control and a DAB radio. The X-Trail’s cabin is also versatile and spacious, plus it's made to a high standard, even if the dashboard isn't especially modern.
So should you lease one? In isolation the Nissan X-Trail is a good bet, but you should consider some of those newer options too. However, when you look at what you get for your money the Nissan is quite a compelling package on a per-pound basis.