Both the Honda CR-V and the Nissan X-Trail are well-established, mid-sized SUVs. In 2021, Honda and Nissan released updated versions of these popular models.
Here we consider the detail of each model, as well as suggest which option is going to be best suited to your driving requirements.
The 2021 CR-V has remained largely unchanged from the 2020 version. Well-known as a reliable, roomy vehicle, it's also economical to run. Commentators report that the CR-V is great to drive, as well as comfortable for both passengers and the driver. Honda no longer offers a diesel version of the CR-V here, but a hybrid model is available.
This year's version of the X-Trail is much the same as last year's offering. On offer in four different variants (the basic ST, the STi, the Ti, and the TS), both 2WD and AWD options are available. The TS version is diesel-powered and for sale here in Australia.
This year, Nissan provides a wider variety of interior materials, including leather accents in black or tan on higher spec vehicles. The X-Trail's interior is well laid out and roomy. A panoramic sunroof adds to the passenger experience but inhibits the rear-seat headroom. Both 5- and 7-seater variants are on offer.
Historically, Honda prioritised the use of high-quality materials in interiors. The CR-V carries on this tradition, featuring high-end details such as leather accents on the upholstery. A spacious back end ensures passengers in the second and third-row enjoy a comfortable drive.
If you're looking for an SUV that still retains a fair degree of 4x4 capability, the X-Trail's higher chassis could work well. Fresh LED headlights and a redesigned front grille are the main upgrades to the Nissan's exterior.
The basic lines remain largely unchanged from previous years, resulting in an understated look which some may describe as bland.
In an effort to provide the CR-V with a meaner, moodier look, designers have added more dark chrome, a dark grille and a tail fin to this year's model. Like the X-Trail, the 2021 CR-V benefits from LED headlights.
In a nutshell, the X-Trail is good, but the CR-V is better. The 2.5l 16-valve 4-cylinder auto 4x2 X-Trail engine delivers 126kw and 225Nm of torque. The CR-V's VTi-L can provide 140kw of power and 240Nm of torque.
Not only are the CR-V's numbers better, but commentators have also been quick to praise its handling and consistent acceleration through the range. Honda enhanced handling with the introduction of fresh rear and front stabilising bars, which have impacted positively.
In comparison, the X-Trail has been accused of wallowing in the bends by some drivers, as well as having a soft suspension that can be uncomfortable over uneven ground. Acceleration can be patchy, with the diesel variant prone to a delay in acceleration from a standing start and inconsistency at higher speeds.
Both the CR-V and the X-Trail have noise problems. Several test drivers of the X-Trail report that the diesel version has a particularly noisy engine.
Fuel consumption for the CR-V is around 7.3l/100km. For the X-Trail, fuel efficiency is around 7.9l/100km. The diesel variant comes in at around 6l/100km (for the 4x4 version).
The X-Trail benefits from a motion-activated tailgate, as well as an intelligent key system that enables the button start to operate.
A comprehensive package of autonomous tech in the higher-spec X-Trails provides plenty of safety features.
If you like your music, higher spec X-Trails have the option of a Bose audio system.
The rear doors open to nearly 90 degrees and the seats are set high. These two features make the X-Trail a good option for parents wanting to fit car seats or passengers with compromised mobility.
The exterior redesign has resulted in a vehicle that has a sportier vibe, although some may argue there are sportier SUVs out there.
Both the second and optional third row of seats allow passengers sufficient legroom and height for comfort. The third row can be adjusted to enhance the boot room.
The boot is one of the largest in this class of SUV. The depth of the boot can be varied, making it easier to move large or awkwardly shaped objects.
The Honda's interior has a high-end feel.
Why You Should Buy The CR-V
If reliability, fuel efficiency, value-for-money and passenger comfort are priorities for you and your family, the CR-V is a good option.
The cabin and luggage space ensure large numbers of passengers and kit can be safely and easily transported: perfect for camping trips, holidays, or similar expeditions.
Studies show that Honda is one of the more reliable car manufacturers out there, which is an important consideration if your SUV is going to be the family workhorse. Although critics have mentioned the lack of tech in the CR-V, its infotainment screen does support both Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
Why you Should Buy The X Trail
Nissan has come a long way in the past couple of decades. The X-Trail hasn't been plagued by the problems that previous generations of Nissan vehicles have experienced.
It benefits from a sophisticated suite of autonomous safety features (including cruise control, emergency braking, lane control and parking sensors).
Little touches such as the level boot floor, remote access and Bluetooth audio are also appealing. If you want a good all-rounder with some high-tech touches, the X-Trail fits the bill nicely.
The price for the entry model X-Trail is $34,665. In comparison, the entry-level CR-V comes in at $30,490. Ultimately, there probably isn't enough added value in the X-Trail to justify paying an additional $4,000.
Both SUVs are safe and versatile. Some may argue that the X-trail has the tech edge (although its infotainment system doesn't support either Apple Carplay or Android Auto). Others may be drawn towards the comfort of the CR-V's rear seats, or its fuel efficiency.
Unless you are a Nissan enthusiast, it may be wise to carefully way up why an X-Trail makes better driving or economic sense than the CR-V.