2019 Nissan Qashqai SL Platinum Road Test Review
February 11 2019, Trevor Hofmann
New Advanced Safety and Infotainment Upgrades Improve All Qashqai Trims
The smart looking Nissan Qashqai might appear the same as it has for the past two years of availability, particularly when shown in its official launch colour of Monarch Orange, but take note this new 2019 Nissan Qashqai model is filled with fresh upgrades that make it more enticing than ever.
Nissan has been leading the charge in advanced driver assistive systems, and now even the base Qashqai S receives a bundle of its own new-edge technologies, including Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), and the innovative new Rear Door Alert (RDA) system, which reminds the driver if something or someone has been left in the rear seating area.
It could be said that the Qashqai's new standard 7.0-inch NissanConnect infotainment touchscreen is boon to safety as well, being that its larger display provides a much clearer view of the standard backup camera, or in the case of my SL Platinum trimmed tester, both that regular rear-facing camera and the 360-degree overhead Intelligent Around View Monitor. Other features added to this new and improved infotainment system include standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite radio, live navigation, plus mobile apps and services, while Nissan has also provides a second USB port in the centre console, plus the brand's helpful Divide-N-Hide cargo system in the very back. If all this news isn't enough to cause you to pause and take notice, Nissan's ability to bring all of the above to the base Qashqai and only charge another $200, resulting in a new entry price of $20,198, is astounding.
Base Qashqai Provides an Amazingly Long List of Standard Features
To be clear, the Qashqai that has become so popular in Canada over the past two years already rewarded its owners with a shockingly long list of standard features considering its competitively low price point, some of those not yet mentioned including projector headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, heated power-adjustable side mirrors with LED turn signals, power windows and locks (the latter connecting via a switchblade-style key fob), an electromechanical parking brake, tilt and telescopic steering, a colour TFT multi-information display, variable intermittent wipers, sun visors with extensions and vanity mirrors, overhead console sunglasses storage, micro-filtered air conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, text message reading and responding functionality, Siri Eyes Free, four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with illuminated steering wheel controls, speed-sensitive volume control, Radio Data System (RDS), two-way Quick Comfort heatable front seats (that warm up really fast), a rear-seat centre armrest, a cargo cover, six cargo area tie-down hooks, tire pressure monitoring with Easy Fill Tire Alert, all the usual passive and active safety and security features, plus more.
The 2019 Qashqai continues forward with three trims, including the previously noted entry-level S and top-line SL models, plus the well-appointed SV that bridges the features and price gap. The S remains the only Qashqai to use a manual gearbox, with both higher trims coming standard with Nissan's tried and tested Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission), while both S and SV trims are available with optional AWD, leaving the SL with standard AWD. Nissan provided this top-level model for my weeklong test, and even went so far to dress it up further with its Platinum Package, but before I reveal its contents and all the goodies found in SL trim, I'd better detail out the $26,198 SV, as I'm sure some of my more practical readers won't feel the need for all of the SL's luxury.
Three Trims to Fit the Wants and Needs of Most Compact SUV Buyers
Some SV upgrades include a stylish set of 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic on/off headlights, fog lamps, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless entry, pushbutton ignition, High Beam Assist, rear parking sensors, illuminated vanity mirrors, a powered moonroof, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, a leather-wrapped shift knob, cruise control, two additional stereo speakers, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear passenger ventilation, and the list goes on, while even more advanced driver assistive systems get added to the mid-range SV, such as enhanced autonomous Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with Intelligent Lane Intervention, and Rear Intelligent Braking (R-IEB).
The Qashqai SL I tested can be had for just $31,398, but despite this reasonable price it looks and feels more luxury oriented than economy thanks to large machine-finished 19-inch alloy wheels with sporty black painted pockets, aluminum roof rails, the Intelligent Around View Monitor noted earlier, very accurate navigation with nicely detailed mapping, voice recognition, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, great looking leather upholstery, a comfortable and supportive eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with two-way powered lumbar, and more, while a few totally new items improving this 2019 SL trim's standard menu include Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), Moving Object Detection (MOD), and ProPilot Assist semi-automated self-driving that helps a driver maintain a given lane with greater ease while making highway driving less stressful.
As mentioned before, my tester also included a $2,000 SL Platinum Package that features LED headlights for enhanced nighttime visibility, an auto-dimming centre mirror, a Homelink universal garage door opener, a sensational sounding nine-speaker Bose audio system, and NissanConnect Services, the latter bundling up key mobile apps designed to improve everyday life with your Qashqai.
A Well Made Interior That Feels More Premium Than Mainstream
Nissan surrounds this impressing load of features with a cabin that's surprisingly refined. I tested a base S model last year, and was thoroughly impressed with the quality of materials, tight fitment of switchgear and its general goodness for just $20k, but this SL Platinum takes that base model to entirely new heights. The dash top and front door uppers are finished in a premium-like soft composite, this common to all Qashqai trims, but the perforated leather upholstery with contrast stitching is not available in any other trim but this SL. Likewise for the stitched leatherette detailing on each side of the lower console, which, thanks to the padding underneath, protects knees from chafing against an otherwise hard plastic surface, while it looks great too.
Additional SL highlights include glossy piano black lacquering for the instrument panel inlays, centre stack, shifter surround, and door panel trim, the inky accents complemented nicely by a thin strip of satin-silver metal-like trim. More satin-silver brightens the steering wheel spokes, the shifter and elsewhere, while Nissan tastefully splashes chrome here and there throughout the rest of the cabin to highlight key areas. It's certainly hard to argue against this well executed cabin.
Fun to Drive and Wholly Efficient
With left hand clasped on the sporty leather-wrapped steering wheel, and right hand gripping the leather-covered shift knob, the Qashqai feels more sport wagon than SUV, but its taller ride height and great visibility all around makes the latter apparent. Press the ignition button that ignites the Qashqai's potent 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and then set out on the road, and its 141 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque will quickly have you questioning whether it's a sport wagon again.
The CVT that my tester's powerplant was connected to will no doubt be the choice of most Qashqai buyers, but having tested a six-speed manual version last year makes me want to recommend it to those who like shifting for themselves. It's truly a sporty feeling gearbox that uncovers much of the engine's performance, while the CVT tested here is ideal for those who want a more relaxed, comfortable drive. Certainly it performs well when needed, the Qashqai moving off the line quickly and ramping up to freeway speeds with ease, while the CVT even offers up a manual mode for more driver engagement when coursing through curves, but I enjoyed the automated transmission most when leaving the shifter in Drive, and casually cruising around town and on the highway, where it always accelerated smoothly and strongly.
Underpinning the Qashqai is a version of the same fully independent suspension as the larger Rogue SUV, which means that struts are found up front and a multi-link setup in the rear, with stabilizer bars at both ends. This sophisticated setup allowed the SL's larger 225/45R19 all-season tires to provide optimal grip through the corners while still delivering a calming, comfortable ride. It's this balance of handling with ride quality that's rare in the subcompact SUV class. Additionally, the Qashqai's four-wheel disc brakes rein in all of its forward momentum quickly, these aided by Intelligent Engine Braking that comes standard with SV and SL trims.
Probably even more important to Qashqai buyers is fuel economy, especially on the North Shore where pump prices are much higher than in the valley. No worries when at the wheel of a Qashqai, thanks to a five-cycle rating of 10.0 L/100km in the city, 8.1 on the highway and 9.2 combined with FWD and the manual; 8.6 city, 7.2 highway and 8.0 combined with FWD and the CVT; or 9.1, 7.6 and 8.4 with the CVT and AWD.
The Qashqai might use a bit more fuel when loaded up with passengers and cargo, and believe me you can get a lot of both into this little SUV. In fact, you can load a total of 648 litres behind its rear seats when they're upright and in use, which is excellent for this class, while those 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks can expand cargo capability to 1,730 litres when completely lowered, which is about as good as this category gets.
As for passenger space and comfort overall, the front seating area is spacious and the seats are ideally sculpted, enveloping the backside perfectly, while together with the tilt and telescopic steering system I was able to set up my driving position just the way I wanted in order to optimize comfort and control.
Likewise the rear passenger compartment is roomy too, and more than capable of providing comfortable accommodations to big teenagers and adults. After positioning the driver's seat to my five-foot-eight frame's liking, I walked around and sat in the rear seat directly behind. This left about five inches ahead of my knees, plus another four above my head, which should make the Qashqai tall enough for six-foot-plus passengers. It's wide enough too, capable of three abreast, with the space from the door to my shoulder and hips measuring about three to four inches. It's also reasonably well appointed in back, with nicely padded stitched leatherette armrests on the doors and a comfortably placed flip-down centre armrest with dual cupholders at centre. Nissan also added a set of air vents to the back of the front console, helping to keep all occupants breathing fresh filtered air.
Ideally sized for the majority of Canadian families, plus empty-nesters or active lifestyle couples including all their gear, the 2019 Qashqai is a very well built, generously equipped, enjoyable compact SUV to drive and be driven in. Together with its excellent fuel economy and incredibly low pricing, there's no wondering why the Qashqai is one of the best-selling subcompact SUVs in Canada. It easily earns my seal of approval.
To learn more or take a 2019 Qashqai for a test drive, contact North Vancouver Nissan at (888) 450-6443, or come visit us in our showroom at 819 Automall Drive, North Vancouver.
Story credit: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credit: Karen Tuggay