Flexible w/no rock plate, excellent grip. Low to the ground with good trail feel. I use loc-laces with them and can comfortably do 20+ mile trail runs or long mileage hiking days in them and my feet feel great afterwards.
I have yet to find a trail running shoe that is better for grip than my x-talon's. Yes, I also use them in rocky areas, skree, etc.
While I've had early wear on some of the upper's, I can get as many trail running miles out of my x-talon's as I can out of a similar road running or trail shoe. Expecting similar miles as hiking boots or more substantial (ready heavy) trail shoes is an apples to oranges comparison.
Ken's point about not changing models often is a good one. Although, this adds to the myraid of versions they have as they add, rather than modify most of the time. No doubt this is confusing to those new customers.
I think inov-8 lovers often do want to spread the word and suggest people give them a try. However, unlike *some* Apple fan-boy's or cults, we may want you to join the club, but if you give it a shot and don't like it, so be it.
Of course, take all of this with a grain of salt as I must confess I recently switched to one of their new road-x shoes for road runs. Yes, I am happy with it so far.
I do have issues with some inov-8's. For instance, my x-talon's don't dry out as fast as I'd like and I'm not confident I'll get high miles out of the road-x's sole.
You can say "don't say hike your own hike", but footwear is very personal and what works well for me, might be terrible for you. To me, this point, more than any, differs from an apple/cult attitude.