Base Camp: 2021 Nissan Qashqai
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Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll recommend one – or the required options – that earns a passing grade.
Nissan introduced this tongue-twisting crossover to Canada five years ago, making its debut at the North American Auto Show in 2017. Half a decade later, it occupies a sliver of market between two other models in the Nissan lineup, slightly smaller dimensionally than the popular Rogue but larger than the funky Kicks.
Under the hood is a 2.0L four-cylinder engine, typical for the segment and making 141 horsepower with a like amount of torque along for the ride. As with many of its competitors in this market, front-wheel drive is standard kit. Unlike many of its competitors, however, the Qashqai is currently available with a manual transmission in the base trim, stickered at $22,198 and providing the opportunity to row your own gears. How much longer this option will last is up for debate.
Glacier White is the only $0 paint choice on the base Qashqai, with Magnetic Black or Gun Metallic requiring a $135 chit. Caspian Blue is available for the same price but forces the selection of easy-to-mar Light Grey cloth seats. Steel wheels with 16-inch plastic hubcaps are a dead giveaway that this is an entry-level trim, with even the next-rung SV wearing natty 17-inch aluminum alloys. Still, the power-operated side mirrors are heated, a spoiler juts from the rear hatch, and LED daytime running lights pepper the front fascia.
A 7-inch touchscreen display handles infotainment tasks, featuring the ability to connect via Bluetooth or USB. There’s also an AUX port for anyone still living in the ‘90s. Four speakers are two fewer than the number in other Qashqai models. The unit is also satellite radio capable, a rarity in base models at some other brands. Single-zone air conditioning might provoke meteorological disagreements with one’s spouse but at least the tilt/telescope steering column will permit them a comfortable perch when they kick you out of the heated driver’s seat.
The type of active driving helpers which now appear on vehicles stickered at $22,198 far exceed what was found on expensive luxury models just a short time ago. This least expensive Qashqai features intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert, plus lane departure warning and intervention for the same.
What We’d Choose
Since spending more money on higher Qashqai trims does not currently net any extra power, one should try to get into the least expensive model as possible. Supply shortages will make finding a stickshift S trim a very tall order; with a restyled model on the horizon, locating any Qashqai may be a task.
That’s why alert readers will have noticed this instalment of Base Camp deals with a vehicle from the 2021 model year, an annum which does not align with the current calendar. Nissan’s consumer website does not make any reference to the 2022 model, a machine which will likely wear new styling when it appears in the next few months. Here’s hoping our favourite trim – a base model stick shift – remains on the docket.