When there's a new car, SUV, pick-up or any other vehicle for us to test, more often than not it's the top-of-the-line variant. It's only normal for car manufacturers to have us review their best model; the automotive equivalent of putting your best foot forward.
The problem with doing all the top-spec variants is that they're not necessarily the most important of the line, as a good majority of buyers tend to gravitate towards the mid and lower spec models with better value for money.
Such is the case for this seven-seater 2015 Nissan X-Trail. We've tested the range-topping 2.5L 4WD model and found it impressive, now it's time to see what it's more affordable 2.0L 2WD version can do.
If the previous generations of the X-Trail looked at home off-the-beaten path with its boxy body, this one looks far more clean and modern. The new crossover gives the impression that it was molded to be smooth and sophisticated instead of being stamped from sheets of steel like its more aggressive predecessors.
Compared to the 4WD it's actually not easy to distinguish the 2WD model. The wheels are the same while the 2WD has the same stance and ride height height. The headlights have daylight running LEDs and the doorhandles are finished in chrome. The only things that were removed from this one are the foglamps (which was odd) and the roof rails. Unusually this 2WD test car came with rain gutter accessories.
Step inside the X-Trail 2WD and you'll be greeted by a very nice interior with the soft-to-the-touch dashboard, the large Nissan steering wheel and predominantly black hues. Like the 4WD, there is space for seven persons inside (though the third row really is best for children) but as expected, the leather upholstery has been omitted in favor of black fabric.
What was surprising was that Nissan didn't remove as many features as I thought they would. Keyless entry with push-button ignition is still standard, as is the rather novel multi-info LCD and trip/range/fuel computer. Nissan installed a simpler version of their in-car entertainment system with playback via CD, USB or Aux-In, though they omitted the useful Bluetooth handsfree system. Climate control is still standard and, of course, it's up to Nissan's legendary levels of frigidness; always a good thing in a tropical country.
Push the start button and the MR20DD gasoline engine fires itself up. Unlike the 4WD which has a carryover powerplant, the 2WD's MR20DD is actually quite new, and features direct injection over the previous MR20DE. As a result, the new X-Trail has 144 PS and 200 Nm of torque; pretty good considering its size, and it's matched with an Xtronic CVT that drives the front wheels.
When driven around urban areas, the X-Trail 2WD fares very well. The 2.0L engine has more than enough pull and the CVT is smooth and quiet, as expected. The ride of this 2WD is slightly stiffer based on what I remember with the 4WD version, though that may be because this is a newer test car and it's also 75 kg lighter (majority of which would be the 4WD system) than the other one. Handling is also lighter than what I remember, but most importantly, the lighter weight makes for better fuel economy (75kg could be the combined weight of an average person and a child) which at an average speed of 19 km/h (moderate to heavy traffic) is at 7.1 km/l. The figures bump up significantly at an average of 24 km/h to 8.2 km/l even with 1 passenger aboard.
Take it out of town and the X-Trail is impressively smooth and quiet. Handling is slightly better than the 4WD, but again that could likely be attributed to the weight loss from the 4WD system. The 144 PS and 200 Nm of power and torque aren't that much, but the CVT compensates for it very well, quickly adjusting itself to provide acceleration when demanded and efficiency when needed. At an average of 96 km/h, the X-Trail 2WD achieved 13.4 km/l with 1 passenger.
The 2015 Nissan X-Trail is a solid performer all around. Sure, this one has lost the 4WD system that X-Trails have been known for for the last decade, but if you need a daily driver to make runs to school, the supermarket and other places in the metro or outside of it, is a 4WD really necessary? What's important is the capacity for growing families, the ground clearance to get through our notorious urban “puddles”, the versatility of the cabin layout and the efficiency of the powertrain.
This new 2WD version has all the bases covered so very well at PhP 1,375,000 that it's no surprise the seven seater 2015 Nissan X-Trail has started to become a more common sight in the metro's streets and gated communities than ever before.