NOT so long ago a practical workhorse like an SUV would sell well even if looked like a bus or a bread van.
Vertical lines and brick-like aerodynamics hardly tarnished sales of either the Discovery or the previous Nissan X-Trail.
But now, buyers adore sexy looks and sweeping curves. And the new generation of crossovers and SUVs are able to provide stylish exteriors without sacrificing huge, roomy interiors.
Models like the Range Rover Evoque, Audi Q5 and even the Nissan Qashqai led the way and the current generation Nissan X-Trail follows suit.
Looking a bit like a fully grown Qashqai with flowing lines and rounded edges, the latest Nissan promises extra space and even two more seats without losing much in terms of economy or sending monthly running costs rocketing.
Even families who don't need the extra seating capacity will appreciate the huge boot which can absorb 445 litres of luggage (550 litres in the case of the five-seater). Fold down the rear seats and this expands to 1,992 - one of the roomiest cargo areas in its class.
Legroom and headroom is ample too, but the electric tailgate takes an age to raise or lower - no fun in windy winter. The final flip-up row of seats is fine for children if a bit cramped for adults.
Surprisingly, the X-Trail which comes with a number of trim options, is available with just a single diesel engine choice - a 1.6 knocking out 128bhp. Considering the modest size of the unit, it does well to reach 62mph in 11 seconds and go on to a maximum of 117mph.
The six-speed manual gearbox needs a bit of stirring on inclines and anyone carrying a full load or towing might well wish for a few extra horses.
There is also now a 1.6 turbo petrol option which boosts power by more than 30bhp, but inevitably torque is less impressive.
Though a bit noisy at tickover, the diesel smoothes out later and is usefully economical. Emissions are relatively low at 139g/km which corresponds with 53mpg combined.
In real life terms, this means most owners will easily average 40-plus mpg. My own test average in the N Tec version - price Â£31,345 - was 41mpg with a best of 52mpg.
During normal road driving, the X-Trail remains in front-drive but you can engage the extra axle with a turn of a centrally mounted dial when the going gets slippery.
Road holding and handling is quite car-like, which is what Nissan designers were after, but it doesn't feel as fleet of foot as the smaller lighter Qashqai, exhibiting more roll around bends and slower-reacting steering.
Most of the time the soft suspensions soaks up poor surfaces well, but potholes and big bumps can upset its composure. There's ample grip in two-wheel drive on all but snowy surfaces or over thick mud.
The N-Tec, positioned one below the top spec Tekna version, gets plenty of goodies and gizmos including dual climate control, touch screen sat nav, digital radio and electrically controlled driver's seat.
Soft touch plastics abound in the cabin and the sweeping fascia design is a quantum leap forward over the previous model's interior decor.