- Solid performance
- Smooth ride
- Practical cabin
- Not the prettiest
- Noisy engine
What do you do when customers criticise a car for being too slow? You add a new engine with more oomph, as Nissan has done with the X-Trail dCi 177 2.0-litre petrol.
The Nissan X-Trail ticks a lot of boxes. Up to seven seats, Japanese reliability, plentiful luggage storage potential and a loftier ride position, for instance. But no one has ever accused it of being 'too fast'.
In fact, some X-Trail customers suggested the opposite and then Skoda went and launched the Kodiaq, which can be had with up to 187bhp. That meant those who needed more power and a bigger crossover than a Qashqai would have to go outside of the Nissan circle.
The response to the problem is the new 2.0-litre diesel aka the dCi 177 ─ here's our verdict, having driven it for a number of hours around the countryside of East Sussex, on and away from tarmac.
2017 Nissan X-Trail dCi 177: What is it?
Imagine the latest Nissan X-Trail with a larger diesel. Bingo. That means the same sizable cabin, the same well-built but ultimately unexciting interior design, the same crossover SUV exterior styling and the same level of safety gadgets such as autonomous emergency braking.
The new 2.0-litre dCi 177 offers 175bhp and 380Nm of torque ─ an increase of 60Nm on the 1.6 dCi but a 20Nm deficit on the Kodiaq although we doubt most people would notice the difference.
Previously you could only have a 1.6-litre turbodiesel and later a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol was added to the range.
Rivals to the third-generation X-Trail include the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Honda CR-V, Peugeot 3008, Hyundai Santa Fe, Skoda Kodiaq and Kia Sorento. A crowded sector, indeed, although the seven-seat option does narrow things down.
2017 Nissan X-Trail dCi 177: How does it drive?
Like a bigger Qashqai, which means it is extremely easy to drive, especially with all-wheel drive as standard providing traction aplenty in the wet.
An X-Tronix CVT with front-wheel drive is available if you want the 2.0 diesel (and will prove sufficient for most) or you can go for a six-speed manual with all-wheel drive.
The CVT emulates the behaviour of a normal gearbox, which means the revs bob up and down instead of sticking to one constant drone. This does make the engine more interesting to listen to, but it is still quite an unpleasant din.
Luckily the 0-62mph time of 9.4 seconds, compared with 11 seconds for the all-wheel drive 1.6 diesel, highlights a punchier experience. The torque makes it a more effortless drive that is better suited to towing or sitting at 70mph on a motorway.
A quieter ride is available elsewhere although wind and road noise is kept to a minimum. Cornering ability is a strengh, with the X-Trail able to take corners fast without losing composure, but where some SUVs and crossovers inject a hint of fun the Nissan never breaks out of its utilitarian groove.
It feels the same size as the Qashqai, as a matter of fact, which is a good thing when you combine it with accurate and responsive steering.
In fairness, the X-Trail is somewhat longer in the tooth than its rivals yet is still as smooth when it comes to ride quality. We doubt any passengers will complain about their comfort.
Off-roading can be done in the X-Trail and the more torquey engine helps here, as does sending power to all four wheels, but Nissan's terrain system – as capable as it is when set to Auto – offers nothing in the way of a hill descent system.
We drove up and down a variety of steep hills and it chugged along nicely, making the terrain feel easily conquered. Even a very deep puddle was no issue, although the parking sensors did get confused and make a noise when submerged.
2017 Nissan X-Trail dCi 177: Still practical and frugal?
The new diesel manages to pump out between 148 and 162g/km of CO2, depending on the configuration, compared to 129 to 143g/km for the 128bhp 1.6 dCi.
As for fuel economy, our all-wheel drive X-Tronic CVT is said to offer 47mpg. The 1.6 dCi can only be had with a manual in all-wheel drive and that manages 53mpg. Or 55mpg in the case of the front-wheel drive CVT.
Boot space is 550 litres if you fold down the third row of seats, making it smaller than a Kodiaq and a Ford Edge but still plenty for bigger shops and holiday luggage. Plus, you know, seven seats can come in mighty handy.
Fold all the rear seats down and the boxy proportions allow 1,982 litres of space potential – a lot more than the 1,680 litres offered in a Santa Fe and the Edge's maximum of 1,788 litres.
A number of cubby holes and storage areas ensure the X-Trail can cope with all the junk a family car fills up with over time. Meanwhile the size of the vehicle and layout provides plenty of head and leg room in first and second row. The third is better suited to tiny people.
In case things go wrong, there is the three-year or 60,000-mile warranty to back you up. Not as generous as some rivals, but not the worst either.
Sadly the concept X-Trail version for dog owners is still just that, a concept, but we doubt Sherlock Bones (or whatever you call your canine friend) will mind the standard car's boot area.
2017 Nissan X-Trail dCi 177: Should I buy one, then?
No one would blame you for choosing the X-Trail if you need a practical family wagon. The problem is that some of its younger rivals are more pleasing to look at and drive, particularly the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Skoda Kodiaq.
Having a bigger engine does help the X-Trail's case in terms of ability, it must be said, but justifying £30,000 for the privilege is harder than it should be, especially when the 1.6-litre is more cost effective.
- 2.0-litre dCi 177
- 280lb/ft (380Nm)
- 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds
- From 148 to 162g/km
- 47.1 to 50.5mpg
- From £29,555