WHEN it comes to crossovers there is no doubt that Japanese car maker Nissan has some good form.
The all-conquering Qashqai is widely credited with having kickstarted the craze for such vehicles when it hit the road in 2007, followed three years later by the equally well received Juke.
Both were instrumental in the brand becoming the first to sell more than a million crossovers to UK buyers earlier this year.
There is a third model, however, that has played an admittedly smaller but still significant part in that success story - the X-Trail.
Sitting at the top of Nissan's SUV range it offers the Qashqai-like styling that has proved so popular - with added space and versatility.
In particular, as with our test car, the X-Trail can be had with seven seats and all-wheel drive, offering obvious benefits for those with larger families, who need a tow car or who like to venture off the tarmac occasionally.
Four trim grades offer buyers a wide range of specification and prices, while engine choice is a straight one between a 1.3-litre petrol unit or the 1.7-litre diesel power pack we tried.
If you want all-wheel drive you'll have to plump for the latter, which can be paired with a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission, while the petrol comes mated solely to a dual-clutch automatic.
The oil-burner seems more suited to a car of the X-Trail's size and offers decent pulling power from low revs, proves perfectly well-mannered in urban traffic and cruises effortlessly at motorway speeds.
As with most large SUVs, the X-Trail is not the most dynamic or agile car to drive but what it lacks in entertainment value it makes up for in comfort and practicality.
Light steering makes it relatively easy to manoeuvre despite its proportions, while a supple suspension set-up ensures a smooth ride for the most part.
There is some lean in corners but it's not excessive and the car boasts a wealth of high-tech driver assistance systems to keep you planted on the road, which are further bolstered by the intelligent all-wheel drive system where fitted.
This drives the front wheels in normal conditions but automatically switches to all-wheel traction when needed and also offers a selectable two-wheel drive mode for improved economy when conditions allow and as well as 4x4 lock for tackling more challenging terrain.
Inside, the X-Trail offers space aplenty to cope with family needs, with the added boost of those two optional extra seats.
Specifying these will reduce boot capacity from 565 to 445 litres and, as with most rivals, they are best reserved for the kids as space is tight and getting in and out requires a certain amount of contortion.
Nevertheless, if you often ferry multiple children around they'll be invaluable. There is also an impressive degree of versatility throughout the cabin that will make life easier for larger families.
The 60/40-split second row seats slide forwards and backwards independently, allowing load space or rear legroom can be prioritised, recline for extra comfort and fold flat, creating an expanded cargo area of almost 2,000 litres with all seats folded.
In five-seat configuration head and leg room is generous all-round and five adults should be comfortable on all but the longest journeys, with plenty of storage cubbies dotted around to accommodate all of their personal items too.
In range-topping Tekna trim driver and passengers also benefit from a raft of high tech-features and creature comforts, including touchscreen infotainment system, navigation, around view reversing camera, dual-zone air conditioning, leather upholstery, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, heated rear seats, rear privacy glass, panoramic glass roof, automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist and blind spot warning systems.