Nissan X-TRAIL (2017-2021)


Models Covered

5DR Hatch (Petrol - 1.6, 1.3 DIG-T / Diesel - 1.6 DCI, 2.0 DCI, 1.7 DCI)


The post-2017-era facelifted version of Nissan’s third generation X-Trail matured very nicely as a family-sized SUV that sat just above the brand’s popular Qashqai in the company’s line-up and borrowed much of its technology from that best-selling car. X-Trail buyers though, get significantly more space, with the option of seven seats in a model that’s slightly tougher and more suitable for more adventurous families. In this updated form, it was smarter, more sophisticated and better connected too.

The History

We live in the age of the SUV. And back in 2017, this was the world’s best selling one, the Nissan X-Trail. To consolidate its position, this third generation model was usefully improved three years after launch to create the car we’re going to look at here.

In 2017, this was a model that found itself plumb in the middle of the new car market’s trendy sweet spot, with sales of SUVs by then out-stripping those of every other segment. Brands who’d anticipated this phenomenon found themselves perfectly placed to take advantage of it and Nissan was one of them, having campaigned with the X-Trail crossover since 2001. Back then, this model line competed in the section of the SUV market that Nissan by 2017 was covering with its hugely successful Qashqai. To leave space for that car, this third generation X-Trail, launched in 2014, was made a little bigger and given a 7-seat option.

Which proved to be an inspired piece of product positioning. If you included the US market (where this car was badged as the ‘Rogue’), by 2017 over three-quarters of a million X-Trails were being sold globally every year, which back then made this easily the brand’s best selling vehicle worldwide. An awful lot of family buyers, it seemed, liked the idea of a mid-sized Qashqai-class crossover, but needed one with a little more space and the option of a third seating row. So many in fact that by 2017, quite a few rival brands had piled into this SUV market sub-segment with fresh products aimed at meeting this demand, examples being the Skoda Kodiaq, the Peugeot 5008 and the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.

The introduction in the Summer of 2017 of the small but significant package of upgrades that created the facelifted version of the MK3 model that we’re going to look at here. These delivered smarter looks, extra luxury, stronger standards of safety and even the option of an autonomous driving aid.

This MK3 X-Trail finished production in 2021; a fourth generation model was launched in the Autumn of 2022.

What You Get

Probably the key aesthetic change made to this revised MK3 model was the addition of the latest version of Nissan’s distinctive ‘V-Motion’ front grille. And inside up front? There’s still nothing here that’ll scare Audi or Mercedes, but thanks to the well-judged package of improvements made to this revised MK3 model, the cabin ambience took a welcome step up-market. What about the second row? Well once inside, you’ll find a bench that can slide backwards or forwards over a 260mm range. The backrests recline too. As for the third row seats, well they’re are really only intended for children – or medium-sized adults on short journeys.

As for the boot, well once the tailgate raises 135-litres of room is revealed if you’ve a 7-seat variant and have all three seating rows in place. Usually of course, you’ll have the extra pews folded into the floor, in which case 445-litres of room can be freed up. If you’ve opted for a five-seat-only X-Trail variant, that figure will rise to 565-litres.

What To Look For

While plenty of X-Trail owners in our survey were very happy with their cars, we also came across a surprisingly large number who’d had a whole catalogue of problems. We heard reports of infotainment screen freezing, handbrakes not working and an engine warning light flashing on. In one case the hands-free ‘phone feature didn’t work either; look out for all these things on your test drive. Look out for all these things on your test drive as well as the usual things – scratched alloy wheels, interior child damage and signs of over-enthusiastic off roading.

On The Road

Like most of its similarly sized rivals, this X-Trail isn’t one of those SUVs that’ll encourage you into finding a twistier route back from the supermarket, despite an Active Trace Control system that imperceptibly brakes individual wheels through tighter bends to reduce understeer and quicken progress through the turns. What it can do though, is smooth your way over bumpy surfaces thanks to a multi-link rear suspension system denied to most versions of the brand’s smaller Qashqai SUV. This is engineered to work with an ‘Active Ride Control’ system that monitors the road surface to detect undulations which could potentially cause the car to pitch about, then altering the damping to compensate.

None of this changed as part of the package of improvements made to this revised MK3 model and the engine line-up was the same too, buyers offered a choice of three different units. Most looking for a ’17 or ’18-plate X-Trail opt for the 1.6-litre dCi 130 diesel – and there was a 1.6-litre DIG-T 163PS petrol powerplant too. Towers looking for a ’17 or ’18-plate X-Trail will want the top 2.0-litre dCi 177PS variant, which (like the 1.6 dCi) could be paired with both 4WD and Nissan’s ‘Xtronic’ CVT auto transmission. In 2019, the two diesel engines made way for a single 1.7 dCi diesel unit and the 1.6 DiG-T petrol unit was replaced by a more frugal 1.3 DiG-T petrol powerplant. All post-2017-era X-Trails could be had with the option of a ‘Pro-Pilot’ autonomous driving aid for highway use. The optional ALL MODE 4x4-i system is a capable set-up but your off road adventures will need to be limited to light field tracks. Still, the commanding driving position makes you feel that more would be possible and for most buyers, that’ll be all that really matters.


Overall, the changes made to this revised model didn’t hugely change its buying proposition but it remains a starting point for anyone buying a family-sized SUV in this segment with up to seven seats in the 2017-2021 period. If that’s you and you’re looking for an SUV of this kind, then ‘X’ may very well mark the spot.