Pros

  • Arguably the most rugged of this generation of soft-roading SUVs.
  • Class-leading practicality.
  • Superb value for money.
  • Turbocharged GT offers something very special.

Cons

  • Long and growing list of reliability concerns.
  • Many examples have seen far better days.
  • Repair costs starting to make little financial sense.
  • Safety tech and equipment is over 20 years old.

Verdict

So, should you consider buying one? If we’re referring to the turbocharged GT, the answer is a resounding yes.

While a Turbo Subaru Forester might be deemed the more rational choice, when has rationality ever equated to fun?

Now, as for the regular T30, should you contemplate acquiring one of...

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Publish: December 10, 2023

Let’s set the stage: the first-generation or T30 X-Trail, produced from 2001 to 2007, was Nissan’s response to the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV, marking the initiation of the compact SUV category’s immense popularity.

For those considering the used market in Australia, there are primarily two iterations of the T30 X-Trail: the Series 1 spanning from 2001 to 2003 and the Series 2 from 2003 to 2007. The post-update models underwent a subtle facelift and received enhanced equipment levels, resulting in a revised lineup.

Before the update, three models were available: ST, ST-R, and Ti. Following the update, Nissan expanded the range to include five trim specifications and introduced four special editions: ST, ST-S, ST-X, Ti, and Ti-L, along with limited models like ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, Ti-L Entertainment Pack, and Ti-L Sunroof Pack.

It’s worth noting that there’s another X-Trail variant – the GT trim spec – which we’ll delve into shortly.

Regarding engines, locally, a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine was offered, paired with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic – a true automatic, not the problematic Nissan CVT found in more recent models.

However, the Japanese imported GT trim holds a surprising secret under its bonnet: not the innocent 2.5-liter engine but a turbocharged SR20VET, the same engine found in the Nissan Silvia or 200SX and the Pulsar GTi-R. Importantly, this is not an engine conversion; the X-Trail GT comes standard with this turbocharged powerplant, boasting an impressive 206 kW (276 hp) output and a

Let’s set the stage: the first-generation or T30 X-Trail, produced from 2001 to 2007, was Nissan’s response to the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV, marking the initiation of the compact SUV category’s immense popularity.

For those considering the used market in Australia, there are primarily two iterations of the T30 X-Trail: the Series 1 spanning from 2001 to 2003 and the Series 2 from 2003 to 2007. The post-update models underwent a subtle facelift and received enhanced equipment levels, resulting in a revised lineup.

Before the update, three models were available: ST, ST-R, and Ti. Following the update, Nissan expanded the range to include five trim specifications and introduced four special editions: ST, ST-S, ST-X, Ti, and Ti-L, along with limited models like ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, Ti-L Entertainment Pack, and Ti-L Sunroof Pack.

It’s worth noting that there’s another X-Trail variant – the GT trim spec – which we’ll delve into shortly.

Regarding engines, locally, a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine was offered, paired with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic – a true automatic, not the problematic Nissan CVT found in more recent models.

However, the Japanese imported GT trim holds a surprising secret under its bonnet: not the innocent 2.5-liter engine but a turbocharged SR20VET, the same engine found in the Nissan Silvia or 200SX and the Pulsar GTi-R. Importantly, this is not an engine conversion; the X-Trail GT comes standard with this turbocharged powerplant, boasting an impressive 206 kW (276 hp) output and a superior power-to-weight ratio compared to a new Volkswagen Golf R wagon.

While the X-Trail demonstrates solid off-road capabilities, employing a predominantly front-wheel-drive system that engages the rear wheels when needed, it sets itself apart by offering a selectable “lock” mode for equal power distribution between the front and rear wheels.

However, given that the T30 is now two decades old, concerns arise. Continue reading to ascertain whether these worries are justified.

Let’s set the stage: the first-generation or T30 X-Trail, produced from 2001 to 2007, was Nissan’s response to the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV, marking the initiation of the compact SUV category’s immense popularity.

For those considering the used market in Australia, there are primarily two iterations of the T30 X-Trail: the Series 1 spanning from 2001 to 2003 and the Series 2 from 2003 to 2007. The post-update models underwent a subtle facelift and received enhanced equipment levels, resulting in a revised lineup.

Before the update, three models were available: ST, ST-R, and Ti. Following the update, Nissan expanded the range to include five trim specifications and introduced four special editions: ST, ST-S, ST-X, Ti, and Ti-L, along with limited models like ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, Ti-L Entertainment Pack, and Ti-L Sunroof Pack.

It’s worth noting that there’s another X-Trail variant – the GT trim spec – which we’ll delve into shortly.

Regarding engines, locally, a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine was offered, paired with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic – a true automatic, not the problematic Nissan CVT found in more recent models.

However, the Japanese imported GT trim holds a surprising secret under its bonnet: not the innocent 2.5-liter engine but a turbocharged SR20VET, the same engine found in the Nissan Silvia or 200SX and the Pulsar GTi-R. Importantly, this is not an engine conversion; the X-Trail GT comes standard with this turbocharged powerplant, boasting an impressive 206 kW (276 hp) output and a superior power-to-weight ratio compared to a new Volkswagen Golf R wagon.

While the X-Trail demonstrates solid off-road capabilities, employing a predominantly front-wheel-drive system that engages the rear wheels when needed, it sets itself apart by offering a selectable “lock” mode for equal power distribution between the front and rear wheels.

However, given that the T30 is now two decades old, concerns arise. Continue reading to ascertain whether these worries are justified.

Exterior:

Let’s start with rust, a concern that tends to be more prevalent in colder climates or coastal areas. Thoroughly inspect for rust, particularly around the base of the rear strut towers and the rear wheel arches.

Given their age, some instances may exhibit door lock actuator and electronic issues, although these are not considered commonplace.

Considering the affordability of these vehicles, it’s crucial to remain vigilant for signs of dubious accident damage repairs and potential mistreatment.

 

Interior:

Turning our attention to the interior, there is relatively good news. Due to the vehicle’s age, sporadic HVAC complaints may arise, such as heater blower motors experiencing malfunctions and occasional issues with various air conditioning components. However, these occurrences are not widespread.

In terms of electronic gremlins, there are not many reports to mention. Nonetheless, when purchasing, it’s advisable to test every button and ensure that all functions are in proper working order.

 

Mechanically: 

Head gaskets— they tend to fail for various reasons, often by design. In some instances, they fail due to overheating, while in other cases, overheating occurs as a result of the failure. When these gaskets become excessively hot, it spells bad news because the aluminum block in these engines, which is only slightly harder than a piece of Parmesan cheese, dislikes overheating. The block softens and warps, making it challenging to achieve a proper seal when attempting to fix the head gasket. Consequently, you may find yourself right back where you started.

Common starting issues may arise from problems with the cam and crank position sensors.

If you hear a rattling noise from the drive belt tensioner at idle, don’t rush to replace the tensioner immediately. Instead, inspect the alternator over-run pulley, which often seizes due to the rattling of the belt tensioner.

Due to the age of these vehicles, engine bay plastics, particularly radiators, are likely experiencing fatigue, increasing the likelihood of leaks, exacerbating overheating problems.

Regarding the GT with the SR20, it shares most issues with the aforementioned model, although head gasket failures are less common. Turbo-related complications, coil and ignition issues, and timing chains exhibiting a rattling noise before failure are prevalent. Keep an ear out for these potential concerns.

Over the years, we’ve observed instances of fuel gauge problems in some vehicles. This may stem from issues with either the sender in the tank or the gauge in the dashboard, or possibly both.

The automatic transmissions in these vehicles, distinct from CVTs, are generally trouble-free if regularly serviced. The same applies to the manuals. However, a few cases of transfer case failures have been noted, which may go unnoticed until all-wheel drive is needed, revealing a lack of participation from the

Exterior:

Let’s start with rust, a concern that tends to be more prevalent in colder climates or coastal areas. Thoroughly inspect for rust, particularly around the base of the rear strut towers and the rear wheel arches.

Given their age, some instances may exhibit door lock actuator and electronic issues, although these are not considered commonplace.

Considering the affordability of these vehicles, it’s crucial to remain vigilant for signs of dubious accident damage repairs and potential mistreatment.

 

Interior:

Turning our attention to the interior, there is relatively good news. Due to the vehicle’s age, sporadic HVAC complaints may arise, such as heater blower motors experiencing malfunctions and occasional issues with various air conditioning components. However, these occurrences are not widespread.

In terms of electronic gremlins, there are not many reports to mention. Nonetheless, when purchasing, it’s advisable to test every button and ensure that all functions are in proper working order.

 

Mechanically: 

Head gaskets— they tend to fail for various reasons, often by design. In some instances, they fail due to overheating, while in other cases, overheating occurs as a result of the failure. When these gaskets become excessively hot, it spells bad news because the aluminum block in these engines, which is only slightly harder than a piece of Parmesan cheese, dislikes overheating. The block softens and warps, making it challenging to achieve a proper seal when attempting to fix the head gasket. Consequently, you may find yourself right back where you started.

Common starting issues may arise from problems with the cam and crank position sensors.

If you hear a rattling noise from the drive belt tensioner at idle, don’t rush to replace the tensioner immediately. Instead, inspect the alternator over-run pulley, which often seizes due to the rattling of the belt tensioner.

Due to the age of these vehicles, engine bay plastics, particularly radiators, are likely experiencing fatigue, increasing the likelihood of leaks, exacerbating overheating problems.

Regarding the GT with the SR20, it shares most issues with the aforementioned model, although head gasket failures are less common. Turbo-related complications, coil and ignition issues, and timing chains exhibiting a rattling noise before failure are prevalent. Keep an ear out for these potential concerns.

Over the years, we’ve observed instances of fuel gauge problems in some vehicles. This may stem from issues with either the sender in the tank or the gauge in the dashboard, or possibly both.

The automatic transmissions in these vehicles, distinct from CVTs, are generally trouble-free if regularly serviced. The same applies to the manuals. However, a few cases of transfer case failures have been noted, which may go unnoticed until all-wheel drive is needed, revealing a lack of participation from the rear.

In general, age-related issues are expected. Components made of rubber, such as coolant hoses, brake hydraulic hoses, mounts, and bushes, will likely require thorough inspection and possible replacement.

Exterior:

Let’s start with rust, a concern that tends to be more prevalent in colder climates or coastal areas. Thoroughly inspect for rust, particularly around the base of the rear strut towers and the rear wheel arches.

Given their age, some instances may exhibit door lock actuator and electronic issues, although these are not considered commonplace.

Considering the affordability of these vehicles, it’s crucial to remain vigilant for signs of dubious accident damage repairs and potential mistreatment.

 

Interior:

Turning our attention to the interior, there is relatively good news. Due to the vehicle’s age, sporadic HVAC complaints may arise, such as heater blower motors experiencing malfunctions and occasional issues with various air conditioning components. However, these occurrences are not widespread.

In terms of electronic gremlins, there are not many reports to mention. Nonetheless, when purchasing, it’s advisable to test every button and ensure that all functions are in proper working order.

 

Mechanically: 

Head gaskets— they tend to fail for various reasons, often by design. In some instances, they fail due to overheating, while in other cases, overheating occurs as a result of the failure. When these gaskets become excessively hot, it spells bad news because the aluminum block in these engines, which is only slightly harder than a piece of Parmesan cheese, dislikes overheating. The block softens and warps, making it challenging to achieve a proper seal when attempting to fix the head gasket. Consequently, you may find yourself right back where you started.

Common starting issues may arise from problems with the cam and crank position sensors.

If you hear a rattling noise from the drive belt tensioner at idle, don’t rush to replace the tensioner immediately. Instead, inspect the alternator over-run pulley, which often seizes due to the rattling of the belt tensioner.

Due to the age of these vehicles, engine bay plastics, particularly radiators, are likely experiencing fatigue, increasing the likelihood of leaks, exacerbating overheating problems.

Regarding the GT with the SR20, it shares most issues with the aforementioned model, although head gasket failures are less common. Turbo-related complications, coil and ignition issues, and timing chains exhibiting a rattling noise before failure are prevalent. Keep an ear out for these potential concerns.

Over the years, we’ve observed instances of fuel gauge problems in some vehicles. This may stem from issues with either the sender in the tank or the gauge in the dashboard, or possibly both.

The automatic transmissions in these vehicles, distinct from CVTs, are generally trouble-free if regularly serviced. The same applies to the manuals. However, a few cases of transfer case failures have been noted, which may go unnoticed until all-wheel drive is needed, revealing a lack of participation from the rear.

In general, age-related issues are expected. Components made of rubber, such as coolant hoses, brake hydraulic hoses, mounts, and bushes, will likely require thorough inspection and possible replacement.

Body Styles

  • 5 door Wagon

Engine Specs

  • 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder petrol, 132kW / 245Nm (ST 2001 – 2006, Ti 2001 – 2006, Ti Luxury 2002 – 2003, ST-R 2003, Ti-L 2003 – 2006, ST-X 2004 – 2005)
  • 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder petrol, 123kW / 230Nm (ST 2006 – 2007, ST-S 40th Anniversary 2006, ST-S X-Treme 2006 – 2007, Ti 2006 – 2007, Ti-L 2006 – 2007, ST-S 2007)

Transmission

  • 5-speed Manual (ST, Ti, Ti Luxury, ST-R, Ti-L, ST-X, ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, ST-S)
  • 4-speed Automatic (ST, Ti, Ti Luxury, ST-R, Ti-L, ST-X, ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, ST-S)

Fuel Consumption

  • 9.4 – 9.8L / 100km

Length

  • 4510mm (All Models)

Width

  • 1765mm (All Models)

Height

  • 1675mm – 1750mm (All Models)

Wheelbase

  • 2625mm (All Models)

Kerb Weight

  • 1420kg – 1475kg (All Models)

Towing

  • 750kg (unbraked) – 2000kg (braked) (All Models)

Ancap Ratings

  • Not tested (ST, Ti, Ti Luxury, ST-R, Ti-L)
  • 4 stars (ST, ST-X, Ti, Ti-L, ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, ST-S)

Body Styles

  • 5 door Wagon

Engine Specs

  • 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder petrol, 132kW / 245Nm (ST 2001 – 2006, Ti 2001 – 2006, Ti Luxury 2002 – 2003, ST-R 2003, Ti-L 2003 – 2006, ST-X 2004 – 2005)
  • 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder petrol, 123kW / 230Nm (ST 2006 – 2007, ST-S 40th Anniversary 2006, ST-S X-Treme 2006 – 2007, Ti 2006 – 2007, Ti-L 2006 – 2007, ST-S 2007)

Transmission

  • 5-speed Manual (ST, Ti, Ti Luxury, ST-R, Ti-L, ST-X, ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, ST-S)
  • 4-speed Automatic (ST, Ti, Ti Luxury, ST-R, Ti-L, ST-X, ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, ST-S)

Fuel Consumption

  • 9.4 – 9.8L / 100km

Length

  • 4510mm (All Models)

Width

  • 1765mm (All Models)

Height

  • 1675mm – 1750mm (All Models)

Wheelbase

  • 2625mm (All Models)

Kerb Weight

  • 1420kg – 1475kg (All Models)

Towing

  • 750kg (unbraked) – 2000kg (braked) (All Models)

Ancap Ratings

  • Not tested (ST, Ti, Ti Luxury, ST-R, Ti-L)
  • 4 stars (ST, ST-X, Ti, Ti-L, ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, ST-S)

Body Styles

  • 5 door Wagon

Engine Specs

  • 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder petrol, 132kW / 245Nm (ST 2001 – 2006, Ti 2001 – 2006, Ti Luxury 2002 – 2003, ST-R 2003, Ti-L 2003 – 2006, ST-X 2004 – 2005)
  • 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder petrol, 123kW / 230Nm (ST 2006 – 2007, ST-S 40th Anniversary 2006, ST-S X-Treme 2006 – 2007, Ti 2006 – 2007, Ti-L 2006 – 2007, ST-S 2007)

Transmission

  • 5-speed Manual (ST, Ti, Ti Luxury, ST-R, Ti-L, ST-X, ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, ST-S)
  • 4-speed Automatic (ST, Ti, Ti Luxury, ST-R, Ti-L, ST-X, ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, ST-S)

Fuel Consumption

  • 9.4 – 9.8L / 100km

Length

  • 4510mm (All Models)

Width

  • 1765mm (All Models)

Height

  • 1675mm – 1750mm (All Models)

Wheelbase

  • 2625mm (All Models)

Kerb Weight

  • 1420kg – 1475kg (All Models)

Towing

  • 750kg (unbraked) – 2000kg (braked) (All Models)

Ancap Ratings

  • Not tested (ST, Ti, Ti Luxury, ST-R, Ti-L)
  • 4 stars (ST, ST-X, Ti, Ti-L, ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, ST-S)

Warranty

  • 3 years / 100,000 km (All Models)

Servicing

  • 10,000 km / 6 months (ST, ST-X, Ti, Ti-L, ST-S 40th Anniversary, ST-S X-Treme, ST-S)

Model range, pricing & features

Nissan X-Trail T30-14

ST

Price when new: $31,990

Price used: $1,900 - $4,600

Equipment

  • 4 Speaker Stereo
  • ABS (Antilock Brakes)
  • Adjustable Steering Col. – Tilt only
  • Air Conditioning
  • Airbag – Driver
  • Airbag – Passenger
  • Armrest – Rear Occupants
  • Armrests – Front (Driver & Passenger)
  • Body Colour – Bumpers
  • Body Colour – Grille
  • Body Side Mouldings
  • Brake Assist
  • CD Player
  • Central Locking – Remote/Keyless
  • Coil Springs
  • Disc Brakes Front Ventilated
  • Disc Brakes Rear Ventilated
  • Flares
  • Gauges – White Faced
  • Headrests – Integrated 2nd Row
  • Independent Front Suspension
  • Intermittent Wipers
  • Limited Slip Diff
  • Power Door Mirrors
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows – Front & Rear
  • Remote Boot/Hatch Release
  • Remote Fuel Lid Release
  • Roof Rails
  • Tacho

Ti

Price when new: $35,990

Price used: $2,400 - $5,100

Adds

  • 16″ Alloy Wheels
  • 6 Speaker Stereo
  • Air Cond. – Climate Control
  • Body Side Mouldings – Colour Coded
  • CD Stacker – 6 disc In Dash/Cabin
  • Chrome Exterior Highlights
  • Chrome Grille
  • Cruise Control
  • Fog Lamps – Front
  • Intermittent Wipers – Variable
  • Leather Gear Knob
  • Leather Hand Brake Lever
  • Leather Steering Wheel
  • Spoiler – Rear

Ti Luxury

Price when new: $37,990

Price used: $2,500 - $4,100

Adds

  • Armrest – Rear Centre (Shared)
  • Leather Seats
  • Sunroof – Electric

ST-R

Price when new: $33,990

Price used: $2,100 - $3,400

Adds

  • Polished Wheels
  • Spoiler – Rear Roof Mounted

Ti-L

Price when new: $38,490

Price used: $3,400 - $5,600

Adds

  • Electric Seats – 1st Row (Front)

ST-X

Price when new: $33,990

Price used: $2,700 - $4,400

Adds

  • Cargo Blind – Rear

ST-S 40th Anniversary

Price when new: $31,990

Price used: $3,300 - $4,800

Adds

  • Decals
  • Sunroof

ST-S X-Treme

Price when new: $31,990

Price used: $3,400 - $5,000

Adds

  • Bonnet Protector
  • Rear Sunshade
  • Roof Racks
  • Tail Lamps – Clear

ST-S

Price when new: $31,990

Price used: $3,900 - $5,500

So, should you consider buying one? If we’re referring to the turbocharged GT, the answer is a resounding yes.

While a Turbo Subaru Forester might be deemed the more rational choice, when has rationality ever equated to fun?

Now, as for the regular T30, should you contemplate acquiring one of those? Despite their considerable appeal, the answer is no, you should not.

For the same amount of money, opting for a RAV4 or CRV proves to be a safer bet. Although the X-Trail boasts arguably superior off-roading capabilities and a lift-back tailgate that makes more sense compared to the rear barn door of the other two, at this budget range, prioritising reliability and maintenance costs is crucial. In this regard, Toyota and Honda generally outshine Nissan.

An X-Trail still offers more reliability than European counterparts of the same age and style. If, by chance, you come across a low-kilometre example in impeccable condition with a comprehensive maintenance history, and it passes a pre-purchase inspection, perhaps it’s worth considering. Nevertheless, proceed with caution – consider yourself warned.

So, should you consider buying one? If we’re referring to the turbocharged GT, the answer is a resounding yes.

While a Turbo Subaru Forester might be deemed the more rational choice, when has rationality ever equated to fun?

Now, as for the regular T30, should you contemplate acquiring one of those? Despite their considerable appeal, the answer is no, you should not.

For the same amount of money, opting for a RAV4 or CRV proves to be a safer bet. Although the X-Trail boasts arguably superior off-roading capabilities and a lift-back tailgate that makes more sense compared to the rear barn door of the other two, at this budget range, prioritising reliability and maintenance costs is crucial. In this regard, Toyota and Honda generally outshine Nissan.

An X-Trail still offers more reliability than European counterparts of the same age and style. If, by chance, you come across a low-kilometre example in impeccable condition with a comprehensive maintenance history, and it passes a pre-purchase inspection, perhaps it’s worth considering. Nevertheless, proceed with caution – consider yourself warned.

So, should you consider buying one? If we’re referring to the turbocharged GT, the answer is a resounding yes.

While a Turbo Subaru Forester might be deemed the more rational choice, when has rationality ever equated to fun?

Now, as for the regular T30, should you contemplate acquiring one of those? Despite their considerable appeal, the answer is no, you should not.

For the same amount of money, opting for a RAV4 or CRV proves to be a safer bet. Although the X-Trail boasts arguably superior off-roading capabilities and a lift-back tailgate that makes more sense compared to the rear barn door of the other two, at this budget range, prioritising reliability and maintenance costs is crucial. In this regard, Toyota and Honda generally outshine Nissan.

An X-Trail still offers more reliability than European counterparts of the same age and style. If, by chance, you come across a low-kilometre example in impeccable condition with a comprehensive maintenance history, and it passes a pre-purchase inspection, perhaps it’s worth considering. Nevertheless, proceed with caution – consider yourself warned.

Disclaimer

Please note that pricing information is subject to fluctuations in the automotive market.

Information correct as of Dec 10, 2023.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

Read our full terms and conditions here.

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