2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum Road Test

Let me stick my neck out and make a prediction. Nissan’s new Qashqai will consistently be the best-selling subcompact SUV per
2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
The great looking Nissan Qashqai will be very successful in the Canadian SUV market. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
month before this year comes to an end, and when next year wraps up it’ll be number one in the class. I know that’s a bold forecast and my credibility is at risk, but at nearly 20 years in this business I’m getting better at choosing winners.

Here’s why I think so. First, 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. Next and most importantly, the Qashqai targets the core crossover SUV market where most people shop. What do I mean? It looks good, not weird. It’s sized perfectly, not too big and not too small. And it’s priced right.

2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
The Qashqai is stylish from all angles, especially in top-tier SL trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
just $19,998 the new Qashqai is one of Canada’s lowest priced SUVs. Just four competitors start below $20k, although the $19,998 Mitsubishi RVR, $19,995 Chevrolet Trax, and $19,995 Mazda CX-3 are getting on in years and therefore need to be cheaper to attract attention.

Perfect might be too strong a word, but the Qashqai fits its target audience ideally. At 4,379 millimetres (172.4 inches) long with a 2,647-mm (104.2-inch) wheelbase, 1,836 mm (72.3 inches) wide, and 1,587 mm (62.5 inches) tall, with a 1,585-mm (62.4-inch) front and 1,580-mm (62.2-inch) rear track, it’s sized just larger than average for this class, which gives it a substantive presence, plenty of room
2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
Nissan’s new V-motion grille seems to work well on every car, SUV or truck they add it to. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
for driver and passengers, plus the most cargo space of all. To be clear, Honda’s HR-V provides 40 additional litres (1.4 more cubic feet) with its rear seatbacks upright at 688 litres (24.3 cubic feet) compared to 648 litres (22.9 cubic feet), but the Qashqai is much more accommodating when you lay those seats flat at 1,730 litres (61.1 cubic feet) compared to 1,665 litres (58.8 cubic feet). The rest of its rivals are even less competitive, ranging from 297 to 614 litres (10.5 to 21.7 cubic feet) with their rear seats up, and 560 to 1,528 litres (19.9 to 53.9 cubic feet) with them folded.

Numbers are objective and unbiased, but styling is personal. Nissan pushed our aesthetic buttons when introducing its Cube and Juke in 2009 and 2010, the former successful elsewhere but canceled here in its fifth year after dismal sales. The
2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
Optional LED headlights include auto high beams for more enjoyable nighttime cruising. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Juke has fared well in comparison, never a segment leader but certainly respectable. This said both SUVs would fall into the noted weird category, whereas this new Qashqai incorporates already popular design cues from the larger Rogue and Pathfinder. In other words, it’s only strange by name.

It’s pronounced cash-kai, by the way, but I’ve got a feeling the Japanese brand will soon be calling it cash cow. 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.

My tester’s Platinum package was responsible for the LED headlamps while its SL trim
2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
These 19-inch alloys would look fabulous on a sports car, let alone a sporty SUV. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
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,
2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
LED taillights provide quicker illumination for added safety. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
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.

2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
The optional Light Grey and Charcoal interior looks positively rich. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
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,
2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
There’s no shortage of upscale features in the top-line SL. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
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.

Two features I’ve yet to mention include Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) and its Intelligent all-wheel
2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
A large colour multi-info display is standard across the line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
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,
2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
This is one of the better parking cameras in the industry. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
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
2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
A smooth and efficient CVT comes standard in SV and SL trims. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
too hard, and when its overcooked 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.

2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
The powered driver’s seat provides comfortable support. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
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, rather than slumming it in the ‘burbs.

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
2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
There’s enough room in back for large adults. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
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, although I prefer three-way instead of just “HI” and “LO”. There were no such niceties in the rear quarters, but the outboard positions are 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.

2017 Nissan Qashqai SL AWD Platinum
Think of all you can do with the most cargo capacity in the subcompact SUV class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
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 as mentioned earlier I believe it targets the core of the mainstream volume-branded subcompact SUV segment and therefore will be very successful. Personally, I think you’re going to vote it number one with your wallets. Let’s look back in a few months and see if I’m right. Until then, I recommend you try one on for size. The new Nissan Qashqai is totally worth your time and attention.
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