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The perfect car for those who suck at parking

The improved Nissan X-Trail will solve your spatial problems

The new Nissan X-Trail is better, smarter and safer. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

There are people who have serious spatial issues—those who have difficulty gauging gaps, openings and clearances around them. Their handicap usually manifests itself when they are driving a vehicle—bumpers regularly hit posts, side mirrors graze walls, doors receive dents during parallel-parking, alloy wheels get scratched by curbs. Car repair shops make a killing from this bumbling demographic.

It could be you. It could be your father, your spouse, your sister, your friend, your boss. It could be anyone, really.

Thankfully, advancement in automotive engineering now enables even inept drivers to look like Tyson Sy behind the wheel. Take, for example, the Nissan Intelligent Mobility, which drivers can now experience in the improved X-Trail SUV. As its name implies, this collection of technologies is designed to make ham-handed motorists seem smart. But more important than helping clumsy individuals appear cool in the driver’s seat, it is all about enhancing road safety for everyone, not just for those using it. It is a suite of features that, bundled together, work to protect incompetent drivers (and their bank account) from themselves.

This SUV has more cameras than a tightly guarded bank vault. Okay, maybe not. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

The new X-Trail now has cameras and sensors all around it. Nothing may approach its periphery without its Nissan Intelligent Mobility systems knowing it. Think of this SUV as the beautiful young daughter of overprotective parents, who hired a phalanx of bodyguards to surround her at all times. An ambitious suitor will have to get past this private army before he can even catch a whiff of her favorite coffee, let alone her cologne.

Nothing escapes Agfa. We mean Nissan's Around View Monitor feature. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Thanks to these cameras and sensors, the driver sees a surround (and virtually aerial) view of the vehicle’s exact spot on the road. He then gets a clear idea of where the car’s boundaries are relative to the objects around it—helpful for when he needs to park the X-Trail within a few inches of the next sedan. Visible phantom lines tell him if it’s okay to proceed or if he will need to place a call to his car insurance agent.

Working in tandem with the surround view is a system that detects moving objects near the car. This is most useful when you’re reversing out of a slot and your field of vision is limited. The system notifies you when there’s an oncoming vehicle or a loitering human or even a lingering animal. You’d have to be incredibly stoned to still be able to bump something in spite of this electronic nanny.

We were tempted to say even the blind could drive the new X-Trail. But no, the driver still needs to look at the display screen. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

But many high-end cars have these features now, so what’s new? Well, that’s why Nissan’s driving instructors made things a little more challenging during a product demonstration in La Union—just to prove how much more efficient the X-Trail’s parking aids are. How about we cover the windshield and the windows, and then park the car just by looking at the display screen in the cockpit?

Picture yourself parking your car with only the display monitor to help you survey the surroundings. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

So yes, we did manage to safely park the X-Trail without seeing through the windshield or the windows. If this technology had not been publicized, you could perform this trick before an assembled crowd and probably make off with their pooled bets (and dropped jaws).

Next, a driving instructor showed off the safety feature that alerts the driver if another vehicle is entering any of the X-Trail’s blind spots. If you’re passing too close next to another car, warning lights near the base of the A-pillars blink. When you activate your turn signal and there’s an approaching object (car, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian) from a tough-to-notice angle, the system sounds off a crisp but non-scandalous alarm to inform you that you’re one wrong swerve away from starring in a viral Facebook post. It’s really like having one of Jason Statham’s characters supervise you from the front passenger seat.

With the new X-Trail, you no longer have an excuse for turning into another car. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

All three of the above-mentioned safety features—the 360° Around View Monitor, the ultra-sensitive Moving Object Detection and the accurate Blind Spot Warning System—are standard on the new X-Trail’s 4×4 version. The 4×2 model, meanwhile, is equipped with just the blind spot monitor.

If you keep damaging your car from an inability to correctly judge spacing around you, you might want to check out Nissan’s latest gifts to oafs driving aids. Time to nail that parallel-parking trick in front of your hot date.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 26 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.