//Richard Case 00966583

2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum Road Test Review

 Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.


Best overall value for one of the best subcompact SUVs available 

Nissan's SUV lineup is on a roll. From the Armada, Murano and Pathfinder all the way down to the Rogue, sales are strong and in most cases gaining on competitors. How could they possibly top off this positive growth? By introducing the new 2017 Qashqai.

The Qashqai arrived on the scene in mid-May and has already made its mark by becoming the number one selling model in its subcompact SUV class in August. Why such appeal? Unlike the fun-loving Juke that helped to launch this smallest of crossover SUV segments way back in 2010, the Qashqai targets the core market where most people shop. What do I mean? It looks good, in a more traditional way. It's sized perfectly, not too big and not too small. And it's priced right.

At just $19,998 the new Qashqai is in a four-way tie for Canada's lowest priced SUV title. But inexpensive doesn't mean cheap, as you'll soon find out. In fact, the Qashqai's value proposition is probably the key factor to its immediate success. After all, we're all trying to make our money stretch as far as possible.


 

Ideally sized to serve active singles, couples and young families 

Perfect might be too strong a word, but the Qashqai fits its target audience ideally. At 4,379 millimetres long with a 2,647-mm wheelbase, 1,836 mm wide, and 1,587 mm tall, it's sized just larger than average for this class, which gives it a substantive presence, plenty of room for driver and passengers, plus the most cargo space of all. To be clear, with its rear seatbacks upright its 648 litres of cargo volume makes it a scant 40 litres shy of roomiest in class, but the Qashqai is much more accommodating than any rival when you lay those seats flat at 1,730 litres. Really, its rivals range from 297 to 688 litres with their rear seats up, and 560 to 1,665 litres with them folded.


 

Numbers are objective and unbiased, but styling is personal. Nissan pushed our aesthetic buttons when introducing its Juke, but despite polarizing opinions it has fared quite well on the sales charts. Alternatively, this new Qashqai incorporates already popular design cues from the larger Rogue and Pathfinder. In other words, it's only unusual by name.

It looks long, sleek and stylish, with Nissan's V-motion grille front and centre, lots of muscular body sculpting across the hood and down each side, just enough matte black cladding around the bottom to give it that go anywhere SUV look, plus tasteful splashes of chrome for premium appeal.


 

Sporty styling looks great in all trims and colours 

My tester's Platinum package was responsible for the LED headlamps while its SL trim went a bit further by adding satin-silver roof rails up top and a sharp looking set of machine-finished 19-inch alloys with black-painted pockets below, whereas the chrome bezeled fog lamps were pulled up from mid-range SV trim. I love the rich Caspian Blue paint, although I've already seen the Qashqai in Nitro Lime, Monarch Orange and Pearl White, each adding its own unique character, with other colour options being Palatial Ruby, Gun Metallic grey and Magnetic Black. All paints add $135 to the bottom line, except the pearlcoat that increases the Qashqai's price by $300.


 

On that note the 2017 Qashqai comes in three trims, with the base S nicely outfitted in spite of its low entry price, its standard list including LED daytime running lights, power-adjustable heated side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, remote entry, a tilt and telescopic multifunction steering wheel, variable intermittent wipers, a large fully featured colour TFT multi-information display within the gauge cluster, filtered air conditioning, a 5.0-inch colour centre display with a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, text message read and response capability, Siri Eyes Free, and four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with speed-sensitive volume control, RDS, plus aux and USB ports, while the features list continues with sunglasses storage in the overhead console, cloth upholstery, heatable front seats, a rear seat centre armrest, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, a cargo cover, six cargo area tie-down hooks, tire pressure monitoring with Easy Fill Tire Alert, all the usual passive and active safety features, and more.


 

Three trims provide lots of standard and optional features 

SV trim starts at $24,598 and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, auto on/off headlights, the aforementioned fog lamps, a remote engine starter, proximity keyless access with pushbutton start, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, a leather-wrapped shift knob, cruise control, dual-zone auto climate control, two additional stereo speakers, satellite radio, illuminated vanity mirrors, a powered moonroof, rear ventilation, Nissan's Divide-N-Hide cargo organizer system, and more.

Lastly, my tester's SL trim starts at $29,498 and, along with everything already mentioned, includes a larger 7.0-inch touchscreen display that splits the screen for a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines on one side and an Around View parking monitor with moving object detection on the other, plus navigation, voice recognition, NissanConnect mobile Apps and services, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, while SL trim also includes a six-way powered driver's seat with two-way powered lumbar support, leather upholstery, and more.


 

Additionally, opting for SL trim allows for an upgrade to the $2,700 SL Platinum package that not only features the LED headlights mentioned earlier, but also Nissan Intelligent Safety Shield technologies including auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, NissanConnect services, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blindspot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, plus lane departure warning and prevention. The Rogue with the same features earned the best-possible IIHS Top Safety Pick + rating for 2017, so I expect the Qashqai to do likewise once it's fully tested. So far so good, with the IIHS giving it top "Good" crashworthiness marks for its small overlap front, moderate overlap front, and side tests.


 

Strong performance combines with superb fuel efficiency 

Two features I've yet to mention include Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) and its Intelligent all-wheel drive, the former optional with base S trim and standard with the SV and SL, whereas AWD is optional with S and SV trims yet standard on the SL. All Qashqais include a 16-valve, DOHC, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine good for 141 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque, with the added benefit of direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust valves. The result was more than enough power at take-off via a smooth, linear CVT delivery system, plus ample grip on slippery surfaces.

Likewise the Qashqai's ride was equally smooth, this brought about by a fully independent suspension comprised of struts up front and a multi-link design in back, combined with stabilizer bars at both ends. Nissan enhances this with a standard technology it calls Active Ride Control, which simultaneously uses subtly applied power from the engine and equally unnoticeable braking force to iron out the types of bumps and dips that would otherwise cause annoying fore and aft pitching.


 

The Qashqai isn't all about comfort, mind you, the advanced suspension also taking to curves well thanks to an electric power steering system that features a standard Sport mode, while also included across the line is Intelligent Trace Control that actively applies braking to each wheel to minimize understeer (when the front tires brake traction and push outward) and oversteer (when the rear tires lose traction and slide sideways), or in other words it keeps the SUV ideally balanced and in its chosen lane even when pushed hard. This aids confidence, but of course every technology has a limit. Fortunately, the Qashqai provides plenty of notice when pushed too hard, and when its over-stimulated dynamics tell you it's time to get off the power it settles down nicely.

It can even use Intelligent Engine Braking to do so, standard with SV and SL trims, which adds small amounts of engine resistance to assist the standard four-wheel discs, smoothing out the process and reducing brake wear, although for panic situations the regular binders are joined by the usual anti-lock, emergency brake-force distribution and brake assist technologies.

On top of all this the Rogue Sport is extremely fuel-efficient with a five-cycle estimated Transport Canada rating of 8.1 L/100km in the city and 10.0 on the highway with the manual and FWD, 7.3 city and 8.8 highway with the CVT and FWD, or 7.5 city and 9.1 highway with the CVT and AWD.


 

One of the most luxurious interiors in the subcompact SUV class 

While everything said so far might have already piqued your curiosity, I've actually saved the best for last. The Qashqai's big surprise is what you'll find inside. Granted, my tester was a top-line SL and some surface treatments and features are higher end than the other two trims, but I still wasn't prepared for this near-premium Nissan. First off it was doused in Light Grey leather, but to me it looked more cream than grey. Either way it added a richness that made me feel like I was living the Infiniti lifestyle.


 

Nissan doesn't just cover the leather seats in light grey, but rather the lower half of the dash and door panels, plus the centre console, and I'm not just talking the usual subcompact grade hard shell plastic, but stitched and padded leatherette in places I didn't expect, like each side of the centre stack and even next to the inside knee where a hard surface might otherwise chafe away at exposed summer skin uncomfortably. Nissan uses a dark Charcoal shade for the top of the dash, door uppers, etcetera, with much of the surfacing up front comprised of nice soft synthetics.


 

The leather seats are comfortable and feature particularly attractive stitching around their bolsters and perforated inserts, while the seat heaters work well. Centre-mounted heat vents sufficed for the rear quarters, while the outboard positions were easy on the back and spacious enough for large adults. Really, with the driver's seat set for my five-foot-eight medium-build frame I still had about five inches left ahead of my knees and another four above my head, which makes it good for someone well over six feet. There's easily enough room side-to-side for two as well, or three in a pinch, my left shoulder and hips approximately three to four inches away from the door.


 

Amazing passenger and cargo flexibility 

I've already gone over cargo space in detail, but I should mention Nissan's innovative Divide-N-Hide cargo system, which provides a possible 18 adjustable variations between the passenger and stowage compartments, including "out-of-sight storage" and a "lower deck" to manage taller cargo.

I could go on and on, but I've said enough. The rest is really up to you. So let me summarize. I won't go so far as to say the new Qashqai is the best SUV in the subcompact segment, because no single vehicle can fulfill each and every person's specific needs or tastes, but it's clearly one of the best available with what is arguably the most compelling value proposition in its class. Most importantly, it ideally targets the core of the mainstream subcompact SUV market, and therefore should be very successful. That, of course, will increase its future resale value.


 

All in all, the new Nissan Qashqai is totally worth your time and attention. I recommend you try one on for size.

 


Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press 
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.