Nissan Patrol review: Toyota LandCruiser rival shines off-road
The Patrol comes only with a petrol V8 while the LandCruiser takes an exclusively V8 diesel route. The Nissan undercuts its Toyota rival for price in its two grades, Ti and luxury Ti-L. Our family samples the $75,990 (before on-roads) Ti with eight seats and a giant footprint.
Iain: Behold an automotive legend.
Jules: Please don’t tell me you’re going misty-eyed for a giant, lumbering SUV?
Iain: Too right I am. Because it’s properly fit for purpose and a proper SUV.
Jules: Doesn’t SUV mean “Sport Utility Vehicle”? This Patrol looks sporty in the same way a beached whale does.
Iain: It’s sporty like a heavyweight boxer. Its 5.6-liter petrol V8 produces 298kW and 560Nm without a turbocharger. Pure muscle.
Jules: Sounds like you’ll be feeling Greta Thunberg’s wrath.
Iain: OK, it may rival a container ship for fuel economy but the “utility” part from SUV shines through. Leathery seating for eight. It tows 3500kg. There’s a 140L fuel tank. And its low-range transfer case and 4WD drive modes could haul you to Everest base camp.
Jules: Bit of space for snacks and swags too?
Iain: Even with eight seats up you get 550L of boot space. That’s almost the same as a five-seater Toyota RAV4.
Jules: Wait. Shouldn’t we have truck licenses to drive this? It’s absolutely huge.
Iain: Parking isn’t fun. It’s got some style to compensate, its recent facelift bringing new LED lights, bumpers, grille, bonnet, and fenders.
Jules: I like its modern front but side-on it looks like a box. I think Nissan’s aerodynamics guy was sick the day the design got the green light.
The living space
Iain: I’m an astronaut; I’m traveling in space.
Jules: Dad joke. It s a big climb up into the cabin but, once you’re there, it’s like settling into a business lounge.
Iain: And stepping back in time. The refresh isn’t cutting-edge. Patrols in other markets get fancy dual screens for the central dash and we miss out on Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
Jules: The CD player, foot-operated park brake and digital info — the font looks to be borrowed from Apple computers circa 1991 — are, well, traditional.
Iain: Very polite. There is old-school quality inside. Faux wood trim abounds, there are comfy and wide leather seats and even pleated leather for the doors. The center armrest’s the size of a cow, so long-distance cruising is utterly relaxed.
Jules: The second-row seats should have their own postcode. Sure, it’s a large SUV but interior space is mighty. No problems fitting an adult between two child seats.
Iain: Nissan gets criticised for not having a diesel V8 for the Patrol. I get it. A petrol V8 has grievous fuel economy and the required 95 or 98 RON can be hard to find in the wilds.
Jules: There’s nothing like a petrol V8 — floor it and it sounds like a V8 Supercar.
Iain: Well, almost. It’s a glorious howl on full throttle but for duties around town it’s rather quiet and docile. It can be hard to drive smoothly. A fraction too much accelerator and this near three-tonne beastie rears up.
Jules: While gulping down premium unleaded.
Iain: We returned a thirsty 15.6L/100km and that figure will balloon when towing. But is it much worse than a diesel V8? When we tested the LandCruiser 200 Series, it drank 13.3L.
Jules: Give me a highway and I’m in heaven in this thing. It’s brilliantly smooth for cruising, has radar cruise control and handy safety kit such as blind spot warning and it pulls you gently back into lane if you stray.
Iain: I had to turn off the lane keep assist. Roads just aren’t wide enough for a Patrol.
Jules: The weekly shop fits in even with eight seats up. Brilliant.
Iain: With just the front seats up it’s a van. I fitted a 2m-high bookcase in the back.
Jules: Not having an automatic tailgate is a pain. If you’re short it’s a big reach and a massive thing to haul down. Thankfully, it has automatic soft close.
Iain: Parking’s a nightmare for this XXL SUV. Wisely, Nissan fits an around view monitor as standard with parking sensors front and rear.
Jules: I wouldn’t cope with a Patrol as a daily driver. It’s at its best as a recreational tank and to tow your giant boat or a caravan around Australia. City streets aren’t wide enough.
Iain: It’ll tow 3500kg with ease. Nissan’s reworked the suspension for better on-road handling but, even so, it doesn’t cope well with wet roundabouts. Slow down.
Jules: On the plus side, it’s brilliant off-road. It was easy to put into low-range and crawl over some challenging muddy patches.
Iain: Its size makes it scary to pilot on tight off-road tracks but the handy cameras give a side view to help avoid bumps and holes.
Jules: With eight seats, it rivals people-movers. You can fit a rugby sevens or netball team as well as the driver.
Iain: The top grade Ti-L has seven seats, which is probably enough. The centre row has the best seats in the house. The three rear seats are cramped — it would be more practical if the middle row could slide forward as in some rivals.
Jules: The kids had roof-mounted air vents, effective but noisier than having them down low.
Iain: The family budget will suffer. Services are six-monthly and expensive, it’s about $85,500 drive-away and to fill the 140L tank with 95 RON costs more than $200. We’d manage about 900km between fills.
Jules: The Patrol’s mammoth size means it’s one for adventuring rather than urban duties. Yet the whole family loved it. The interior needs modernising but the joy comes from the acres of cabin space, rumbling V8 and magic carpet ride.
Iain: The Patrol’s cheaper than the equivalent Toyota LandCruiser and it’s the pick for the petrol V8 faithful. It looks a bargain against its opposition, is full of talent and personality, but it should only be bought to tow and explore.
Nissan Patrol Ti vitals
Price: About $85,500 drive-away
Warranty/servicing: 5 years/u’ltd km, $3278 for 3 years/60,000km
Engine: 5.6-litre V8, 298kW/560Nm
Safety: Not rated, 6 airbags, AEB, blind-spot monitor and intervention, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise, lane departure warning and intervention
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