Nissan Patrol review: The big rival to the Toyota LandCruiser
Australia’s automotive rivalries used to be Ford versus Holden in the ’burbs and, in the bush, Toyota versus Nissan.
The legend of the Toyota LandCruiser stemmed from the mighty Snowy River scheme. A Nissan was the first car to traverse the Simpson Desert, inspiring one of the great outback adventures.
For the petrol-only Nissan Patrol, times have been lean in the battle with the LandCruiser, which packs diesel V8 muscle.
But Nissan is fighting back with a 2020 update of its behemoth, sharpening the looks with fresh lights, grille, bumpers, bonnet and front guards and bolstering the value. Underneath, the Patrol is largely unchanged from the series that arrived in 2013.
The starting price is about $85,500 for the entry-level Ti so it’s difficult to embrace the V word for the Patrol, although it undercuts the base LandCruiser by thousands.
Much of the value resides in the sheer quantity of metal — it’s almost 5.2m long, two metres high and weighs more than 2.7 tonnes — and its ability to carry up to eight.
Standard fare includes satnav, leather trim, smart key entry, power front seats, active cruise control, tri-zone aircon, 360-degree camera and parking sensors at each end. Tyre pressure monitoring is a bonus for those hitting the dirt.
Oversights and omissions include wireless phone charging, digital radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and, on the Ti, lack of height adjustment for the steering wheel.
At $102K, the Ti-L (pictured) adds power tailgate, Bose audio, mini fridge, rear entertainment screens, roof rails, sunroof and unique front bumper. It also reduces seating capacity to seven.
Services average out at $540 for the first six check-ups and, as with the LandCruiser, intervals are every six months or 10,000km.
It’s a decent climb up into the Patrol, which makes the sidesteps and grab handles all the more useful.
Once behind the wheel, it’s a king-of-the-road view with space aplenty. Those in the second row are welcomed with sprawling head and legroom — few SUVs provide for the middle row as much as the Patrol does.
The third row has a high floor and average legroom but will cater just fine for adventurous kids. The Patrol can seat three across that rearmost row … at a pinch.
At one stage we had six people, beach paraphernalia and three surfboards — taking advantage of the split-folding back rows — with space to burn.
The powerful fan circulates cool air to the rear seats via the roof-mounted vents.
What it delivers on space, the Patrol partially loses on execution. There’s a 1980s flavour in the cabin — conveyed by bunched leather and glossy wood trim that’s more grand-dad’s office than modern SUV — and the foot-operated park brake is clunky.
Curtain airbags cover all three rows and the addition of autonomous emergency braking and blind spot warning as part of the 2020 update tick the active safety boxes.
Despite its 2.7-tonne heft you’re never left wanting for grunt, the lusty 5.6-litre V8 pouring on more at the slightest prod of the throttle.
Nothing’s changed with its 298kW power peak, the seven-speed auto deftly selecting a ratio to allow the V8 might to muscle on.
Be prepared to feed it plenty — even driven gently, it will slurp in the mid-teens. Confine it to suburban duties and that consumption easily approaches 20L/100km.
Hurting the running cost equation further, it requires premium unleaded, typically 10c-plus per litre more than the dirtier stuff.
So, for every 100km you travel you’ll be forking out more than $25 in petrol. For the annual average of 15,000km, that means a bill approaching $4000.
Nissan argues the fuel penalty relative to a diesel reduces once towing, something it can tackle for up to 3.5 tonnes.
There’s also little penalty in the way the enormous Patrol behaves, provided you’re aware of its extremities. Steering is light — to the point where it is virtually devoid of feel — and the high-riding body surprisingly well behaved.
Tweaks to the suspension — independent front and rear — help with its sensible manners, tying things down better and making for more confident country touring.
There’s some fidgeting at lower speeds over smaller bumps but the Patrol deals adeptly with larger hits. Ultimately, physics overcomes the grip of the Bridgestone tyres on 18-inch wheels and they emit a high-pitched aural reminder that this is no sporty SUV.
Of course, the Patrol’s big appeal is its ability to traverse challenging tracks and trails. It’s a proper off-roader designed for sand, snow, mud or rocks.
It’s an immensely capable machine, with low-range gearing and adjustable driving modes tailoring electronics for easy progress.
I like my off-roaders B-I-G. Big body, big power and big capability make for something that’s virtually unstoppable.
Sure, it’s thirsty but the tempting entry price lets me spend more on premium unleaded.
Big V8 in a big body makes for big family motoring but the type that only makes sense if you’re going to explore, tow or venture off-road.
Toyota LandCruiser GX, from $87,800 drive-away
More country than city, the GX has basic equipment levels, with rear barn doors instead of the tailgate of other LandCruiser grades, but diesel V8 and supreme ability make it a winner.
Land Rover Discovery S, from about $80,000 drive-away
Frugal diesel, luxury interior and off-road cleverness make for a deceptively capable SUV. Lacks the rugged reputation of Japanese rivals and has short three-year warranty.
Nissan Patrol TI vitals
Price: From about $85,500 drive-away
Warranty/servicing: 5 years/u’ltd km, $3236 for 3 years/60,000km
Engine: 5.6-litre V8, 298kW/560Nm
Safety: Not rated, 6 airbags, AEB, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise, lane departure warning
Spare: Full-size alloy
Originally published as Big rival to the legendary LandCruiser