Used-car review: 2003 Nissan X-Trail

Nissan’s answer to the CR-V and RAV4
by | Oct 7, 2018
PHOTO: Top Gear PH


The year 2001 saw the launch of the X-Trail in Japan as Nissan’s answer to the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, both of which were then in their second generation. This meant the X- Trail had to compete with “improved” versions of already successful crossovers.

Nissan Motor Philippines didn’t release the X-Trail locally until 2003; this gave them time to size up the competition and equip the X-Trail with features that made it unique and competitive. Unlike Honda and Toyota, which only released all-wheel-drive versions of their first-gen crossovers in the country, Nissan chose to offer both front-wheel-drive (with a 2.0-liter engine, as seen here) and all-wheel-drive variants. Also, there was only one choice of transmission: a highly capable four-speed, electronically controlled automatic.

Value and costs

Currently, prices of a 2.0-liter 4x2 X-Trail vary greatly depending on the year model. Early 2003 units can be had for as low as P450,000, and 2008-2009 examples are about P700,000 (back in 2010). Not bad for a crossover with decent passenger- and cargo-carrying capacity as well as a very comfy, car-like ride. Given Nissan’s fabled climate-control system and the fact that not a lot of X-Trails are abused by its owners, this is one of the best used-car options out there. Like any other vehicle, the X-Trail will cost you an arm and a leg if the previous owner drove it in a manner that’s akin to destructive testing. Still, it’s unlikely you will have to worry about the climate-control system, unless you manage to shunt the front end and damage the condenser.

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Maintenance costs are pretty much on a par with vehicles of the same time period, and the fact that this variant will carry on for a limited period alongside the recently introduced X- Trail 2.5 cVT, means replacement parts will be readily available for quite some time to come.

Exterior and interior

The exterior of the X-Trail can be described as stylishly boxy in a manner that simulta- neously exudes urban svelteness and outdoor ruggedness. Generously sized headlamps light up the night, while the high-mounted rear lights enable other motorists to be informed of what your intentions are as long as you use turn indicators properly. Plastic fenders give it a good degree of ding and rust protection, while the roof rails are neatly incorporated onto the roofline.

The wide-opening tailgate lifts up and out of the way to reveal a textured cargo-loading area with built-in cargo tie-downs, which are scattered aplenty. Seats fold flat to let you

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carry long and wide objects, and the rear seat backs are finished in the same textured plastic material as the cargo deck. The dimpled fabric seats provide decent support and are water-resistant, making cleaning much easier. Cubbyholes and covered bins are scattered throughout the dashboard; there’s even a beverage cooler in the center console right ahead of the shifter. The centrally mounted gauge cluster assembly works for most drivers, but not for others who find it odd and out of place. A fairly good audio system is also built into the two-din in-car entertainment receptacle. A nicely shaped four-spoke steering wheel completes the driving experience.


The X-Trail came with two engine choices as mentioned earlier: a 2,488cc in the all- wheel-drive variant, and a slightly smaller 1,988cc in the front-wheel-drive. The lesser engine makes 150hp at 6,000rpm and 200nm of torque at 4,000rpm. This is respectable for any modern 2.0-liter engine. Unfortunately, in stop-and-go traffic where there is hardly a need to go beyond 3,000rpm, it feels like it could use a little more oomph. This is because it is mated to an automatic gearbox, which has that disconnected and unresponsive feel from about 1,800rpm to just over 3,000rpm.

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The Nissan X-Trail is one of the best car-like, high-riding crossover vehicles that you can get in the used-car market. The fact that most units are underappreciated by previous owners makes it a good buy. (Ferman Lao)

Engine: 1,988cc DOHC 16V I4 gasoline engine

Power: 150hp @ 6,000rpm 200Nm @ 4,000rpm

Economy: 6-7km/L (city) 10-12km/L (highway)

Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut (front); independent parallel-link (rear)

Note: This article first appeared in Top Gear PH’s July 2010 issue.

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PHOTO: Top Gear PH
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