Behind the Wheel’s Joel Helmes has filed a car review with a difference…
There’s little doubt the life of a rental car is about as tough as it gets.
Rental vehicles are driven by dozens of different people during their short career and often these drivers don’t have vehicle care and preservation at the forefront of their minds, especially if they’ve paid the excess reduction fee!
I recently found myself in Brisbane for a couple of days and hired a Nissan X-Trail from one of the main car rental groups.
Now bear in mind when we are given press cars to review from the manufacturers they often have only a couple of thousand kilometres on the clock and all have been checked over with a fine tooth comb.
So to drive a car that has just about been to hell and back made for a pleasant change.
The 2010 X-Trail was a mid-spec ST-L with 36,000 kilometres on the clock.
Interestingly when I handed the keys back the attendant told me that I was the final paying customer in the vehicle before it was to be sold off.
So here was a vehicle that was about to find a new owner, that owner may, or may not realise that their new car was once a rental.
Would they pick it?
Well there were a few little things which gave the X-Trail up as having a hard life – firstly the vehicle had obviously been in a crash, the alignment of the bonnet and front guard on the passenger’s side was out by a mile!
There was a general feeling of wear and tear in the passenger cabin, especially in the rear cargo area, on the steering wheel, front leather seat bases, and door trims.
But I must say overall, given the tough life it had the X-Trail was holding up quite well.
I’m convinced after my recent reviews of the Murano and Maxima that Nissan are making a quality product, certainly on par with arch rivals Toyota and Mazda.
I hadn’t driven an X-Trail for a few years when I got behind the wheel of this one, you can certainly see why they have been such a sales success for Nissan.
Some elements that stand out include the easy to access cabin thanks to the high ride/roof height and large doors, there’s heaps of good sized storage spots around the cabin (I particularly like the sub-floor spaces in the boot), quality interior materials, well thought out dashboard, and clear instruments.
The leather seats were also very comfortable.
The X-Trails external styling is a bit of a love it or hate it proposition, I must say I’m not a great fan and being up close and personal with one didn’t make me anymore taken.
But I guess the X-Trail is more about functionality than beauty.
The vehicle actually drove quite nicely, the steering felt noticeably heavier than the Murano but this may have something to do with a lack of quality servicing.
The suspension was also feeling a little soft and floaty.
The 2.0 litre, four cylinder engine and six speed auto provide enough forward momentum for the X-Trail but it certainly did have a flat and fairly uninspired feeling down low in the revs.
Otherwise however I would have to say that this is a perfect example of a quality product proving itself in difficult circumstances.
I was impressed.