2024 Nissan X-Trail previews hybrids destined for Canada | Reviews

We just tested the automaker’s “e-Power e-4orce” SUV in Italy and have to ask: why isn’t Nissan offering this Rogue twin here yet?

The question I have is: Why wait?

X-Trail makes for unique hybrid

Nissan has taken a very different path to hybridization. Technically, it is a series hybrid. More specifically — and to steal some Toyota terminology here — it’s a “self-propelled” series hybrid.

Most self-propelled hybrids — those that can’t be plugged in to recharge — use so-called parallel powertrains, in which the gas and electric motors share the duty of driving the wheels. Sometimes — though rarely in non-plug-ins — the electric motors do all the work. Sometimes, the gas engine is the only thing driving the wheels. Most often, however, it is both, the two working together in (not always) perfect harmony to drive the wheels.

Not Nissan’s e-Power. The only thing driving the X-Trail’s four wheels is a 157-kilowatt — that’s 210-horsepower — electric motor. The little 1.5-litre gas triple does not drive the wheels; its only duty is to act like a generator to power the electric motor.

2024 Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orce engine
2024 Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orcePhoto by Nadine Filion

We’ve seen this kind of thing before, namely in the Chevrolet Volt. But that was a plug-in hybrid, its 111-kilowatt-hour electric motor supposed to power the front wheels for 61 kilometres (38 miles) before the 1.4-litre gas engine had to kick in and act like a generator. Ditto BMW’s early i3, which used a small motorcycle-like 647-cc twin-cylinder engine to take over charging duties once its battery ran out of free electrons. The idea in both cases, we were all told at the time, was to make the plug-in hybrid feel more like the full electric everyone was supposed to be coveting at the time.

Nissan pulls the same trick, only there’s no plug, no (relatively) huge battery (the X-Trail’s onboard battery is a 2.3-kWh affair, fairly typical for a non-plug-in), and the electric motor is the only thing motivating the little — actually closer to mid-sized, in this latest variation — crossover.

The good bits

2024 Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orce
2024 Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orcePhoto by Nadine Filion

Where the X-Trail truly excels is in highway comportment. As in, it’s almost as quiet a ride as a full battery-electric. I don’t know why this came as a surprise, since logic dictates — had I spent even a minute thinking about it before I drove the X-trail — that cruising at speed requires relatively little power, leaving the gas engine to literally idle the whole time it’s powering the electric motor. In other words, the powertrain is virtually whisper-quiet, at least compared to the wind and tire noise that cruising at 120 km/h (75 mph) — or more — engenders.

Compare that with, say, Toyota’s RAV4, whose Atkinson-cycle 2.5-litre is the very definition of raucous, a cacophony made all the worse by the CVT gearbox, which makes the ICE sound even more grating if you’re going up a hill or accelerating. The X-Trail, meanwhile, is the smoothest hybrid highway cruiser of any non-plug-in I have yet tested.

Another (fairly) strong point is acceleration. Not only is throttle response immediate, it is, because of the instant torque always available from an electric motor, outsized. It may only be packing 210 horses, but compared to an equivalent ICE-powered crossover of the same specification, it feels decidedly perkier. And, until you’re calling for WFO throttle — when the little 1.5L gas engine finally has to earn its keep — the X-Trail remains in its relative silence as well.

The not so good

Where the X-Trail doesn’t shine as brightly is in slow-speed city driving. It’s not that it does anything particularly wrong, or that its performance somehow disappears. It’s just that the silence you get used to on the highway is interrupted by the sudden start-up of the ICE. It’s really no louder than any other little three-cylinder engine. Nor does it, unless you’re really steaming off the line, rev particularly hard. It’s just that it’s intermittent.

By “intermittent,” I mean there’s no connection to the gas pedal. You’ll hit the gas and it will surge ahead silently on electric. But then later, when you’re no longer on the gas, it’ll kick in. That disassociation between gas pedal and gas engine — something that even regular hybrids “enjoy” — is probably the hardest thing to get used to with Nissan’s e-Power system. How much it bothers you — and how quickly you’ll get used to it — will probably depend on your mechanical empathy. I found it annoying; others didn’t.

What I’m not sure about

2024 Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orce interior

The bottom line for any hybrid is fuel economy and its corollary, emissions reduction. And, in this regard, I have no definitive answers. I did not test the X-Trail under the same conditions — and on the same roads — as I do in Canada. Plus, the European WLTP fuel-economy rating system — which rates the X-Trail at 6.4 L/100 km — is a joke. In other words, I have no definitive answer as to how frugal this e-Powered Rogue-clone might be on our roads and under Transport Canada’s rating system.

On the other hand, it did consume an average of 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres in the 1,000 or so kilometres we drove it. Its worst was 7.2 L/100 km, when we were driving uphill from Milan to the Swiss Alps. Its best was 4.4 L/100 going downhill on the very same route.

One thing to note — and this may be a challenge in the Great White Frozen North — is that heating the cabin can suck back a little more juice than expected, since the e-Power system has to fire up the ICE to get heat. With ICEs — and even regular hybrids — the gas engine is almost always running, so the “waste heat” used to heat the cabin is largely free. Overall, the e-Power feels frugal enough, though not necessarily more so than conventional, parallel hybrids.

2024 Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orce second row space
2024 Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orcePhoto by Nadine Filion


The X-Trail feels like the Nissan Rogue we all know and love. The ride is excellent, the handling adequate. The interior, at least in my e-4orce test unit, was extremely well-appointed and, frankly, a cut above what I was expecting. All in all, though, it didn’t feel a whole bunch different from what you’d expect from a Nissan in Canada.

One anomaly was that our testee had three rows of seats. In an SUV that measures just 2,705 millimetres (106.5 inches) between its axles and just 4,680 mm (184.2 inches)overall, I’m not sure this is a good idea. I know that three-row SUVs are, in a mistaken quest for minivan-like utility, all the rage, but, in this case, it serves no purpose.

Legroom, to put it mildly, is limited. In fact, those in the rear would have to be legless. I mean that literally, not figuratively. With the rear bench in a position my 5-foot-11 legs would find comfortable, the third-row seats’ bench is pushed right up against the second row’s seat-backs. Seriously, you couldn’t fit a dime between them. In other words, they serve no purpose at all, except to get you into a dealership showroom.

2024 Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orce
2024 Nissan X-Trail e-Power e-4orcePhoto by Nadine Filion

2024 Nissan X-Trail Pricing

This, unfortunately, is another area in which exactitude will be impossible. However, we have some hints. So, while a direct currency exchange will give us no clue to what an X-Trail-cum-Rogue e-Power hybrid might cost in Canada, the fact that it starts at 41,100 euro in Italy while the all-electric Ariya retails for 47,850 euro gives us a hint. With a similar split here, that would point to an e-Power e-4orce Rogue starting at roughly CDN$37,000.

In comparison with non-European countries, the e-Power X-Trail seems to cost about $4,000 more than its purely gas-powered sibling, which would mean a Canadian MSRP might be around $37,500. In either case, it suggests a starting MSRP of under CDN$40,000. A base RAV4 Hybrid LE, meanwhile, starts at just under 40 large in Canada, so the e-Power version of the X-Trail-slash-Rogue could — I’ll not go as far as to say “should” — be priced competitively here.

As for the bottom line, Nissan is planning to bring an updated third generation of e-Power hybrids to North America, possibly by 2026. If, in fact, the new e-Powers feature superior technology to what I drove, then they will be very capable indeed. Even as the technology currently stands, the X-Trail e-Power would be my choice amongst hybrid-powered sport-cutes, were most of my mileage highway cruising. I think Nissan should bring its hybrids to Canada as soon as possible.

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