Nissan X-Trail Hybrid

Nissan X-Trail Hybrid On-Snow Review: “Manageable for beginners on snowy roads & has impressive torque control” by Hideaki Kataoka

The Nissan X-Trail is highly popular around the world as a tough tool that doesn’t make anyone struggle offroad or on snowy roads. In order to find out about the 4WD technology and efficiency of a hybrid vehicle, I test-drove this model in Tateshina Highland, a severe winter area.

It has adopted the All-Mode 4×4 4WD system, which has been adopted in the previous-generation model. The existing model has adopted new functions, such as Active Ride Control, which detects road conditions and controls its vertical motion and vibration, and the Active Engine Brake, which generates natural engine braking.

It has three drive modes; I tried the Auto mode first. It automatically distributes driving torque from 100-0 to 50-50 to its front and rear wheels. The transmission response of the rear wheel’s driving torque on the slippery road was surprisingly fast, so it felt relieving. I stopped the car while on the way to tough slopes of snow and ice. I thought the front wheel would have a hard time dealing with the height of the snowy road; however, all four wheels were able to steadily get into the road quickly, and it was an easy start.

Its sharp response that made the tires active generates easy driving and excellent controllability on roads with compacted snow which has low slipperiness (μ). It took on the road and showed a smooth departure as it guaranteed a stable stance. It also had a stable acceleration, without any trace of wobbliness. As it is a hybrid vehicle and is lighter than its rival cars, it showed a pleasant performance.

The understeering is basically weak when cornering. It has excellent controllability on compacted-snow roads. Even when you drive on the outer side of the road, you can go back to your target line just by stepping on the accelerator a little bit. When I wanted to create a tight grip, its processor would select powerful torque distribution for traction, making it easy for people to manage it when driving on snowy roads for the first time. It also exuded a stable performance even on inconspicuously icy roads under the snow and on roads with different levels of slip friction. The road has different levels of slipperiness; even though it doesn’t have a fixed grip, the movement was still stable. Recovery was easy even when on slippery roads.

It has impressive ride quality. When I drove a hybrid vehicle during the summer, I felt that its ride quality was tight. However, the model I test drove this time was equipped with Michelin studless tires, thus I didn’t mind the tightness as much. It also felt pleasant driving this model on tough snowy roads. Its brake also had a pronounced effect even though I would only step on it lightly. Nevertheless, what I was really paying attention to was its performance on slippery, snowy roads. When you get used to controlling it precisely, its stability and manageability improves.

Lastly, let me express my impression towards its hybrid system that has a 2L inline 4-cylinder direct injection DOHC engine on its motor and a dual clutch transmission. Its 2L engine generates a full torque from low rpm through the support of its motor. It also excellently controls its stiltedness, which is a tendency during departure. Its high power output is sharp, and it provides a pleasant speed. Since it has a small motor, its operating range, like when accelerating, is limited, and although it’s not apparent if I strongly step on it, I was greatly impressed by its high level of quietness and its better fuel efficiency. Moreover, the X-Trail’s edge is its reasonable price, despite it being a hybrid vehicle.

â–  5 Star Rating
Packaging: ★★★★
Interior / Comfort: ★★★★
Power Source: ★★★★
Footwork: ★★★★
Recommendation: ★★★★★

Hideaki Kataoka │ Automotive Journalist

A freelance automotive journalist who works as editor for a number of Automobile Specialist magazines. He has tried his hand at writing for a wide range of journals, and always provides deep insights into such subjects as EV and other cars with low fuel consumption and next generation automobiles. A member of Automotive Journalists Association of Japan (AJAJ).

(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)