Remember when the Nissan Patrol was a back-to-basics, utilitarian off-roader? I do. My old man was always getting around in boxy GQ versions, and I remember family holidays in GUs during the late 1990s, which morphed into the Y61.
It's no secret that today's iteration, which has been kicking around for the best part of a decade, is quite different. But then again, the 200 Series Toyota LandCruiser ain't much like the 80 Series either.
We're looking at the 2019 Patrol in flagship Ti-L guise, which sits atop Nissan's range of SUVs and 4x4s. At almost 5.2m long and about 2m wide and tall, it's a bit of a monster. No wonder North Americans and Emiratis love them.
The list price of the entry-grade Ti (remember when Ti meant range-topper?) is $71,990 before on-road costs, with the Ti-L wearing a $17,000 premium at $88,990. That's about the same price as a 200 Series LandCruiser in its more sparse GXL grade, though the Nissan is spec'd more like a $120K Sahara.
Nissan's core demographic remains buyers who like getting their 4x4s dirty, but perhaps now in more civilised fashion.
The main talking point on the Y62 Patrol remains its engine. Reflecting where most of its buyers hail from globally, it is powered exclusively by a petrol-fired engine. Given Australians still overwhelmingly prefer their big off-roaders to use diesel (even though modern DPF-fitted units aren't so simple), that's always been a problem.
It's a hell of a donk, though. A direct-injected, 5.6-litre, naturally aspirated alloy V8 (code VK56VD) pushing out 298kW of power at 5800rpm and 560Nm of peak torque at 4000rpm, with the bulk of this torque available at 1600rpm. That's more than the 5.7-litre Hemi in a Ram 1500 truck. It's matched to a seven-speed automatic with manual mode.
To give you an idea of its guts, consider the achievable 0–100km/h sprint time is a hot-hatch-levelling seven-ish seconds, despite the fact the Y62 weighs a gargantuan 2750kg sans passengers and a full tank of fuel.
Moreover, it's remarkably understated and smooth in the way it goes about its business. There's neither an obnoxious bark nor diesel-style clattering, just a confident rumble from the outside and, thanks to lots of firewall insulation, bugger all from inside the cabin.
Of course, the flipside is fuel consumption. Nissan doesn't sugar-coat it, stating a sky-high ADR claim of 14.4 litres per 100km. Moreover, that's with 95RON premium. The good news is that this is easily achievable, and indeed rather beatable, depending on how you're driving.
If you're just idling on Punt Rd in summer, then you'd better have a fuel card handy given 20L/100km+ is no stretch. But on a 110km/h country run of a few hundred lazy kays, I managed 12.82L/100km at an overall average speed of 61km/h (some traffic stops), and a combined-cycle loop of 13.3L/100km with judicious throttling.
To give you some context, I've done that same route in a 200 Series GXL V8 diesel and only beaten the Nissan's economy by about 15 per cent. This seems counterintuitive given all we hear about diesel efficiency, but there you go. When you factor in the Toyota's higher sticker price, it makes you ponder...
An overwhelming proportion of Y62 buyers will be towing, and again, while more thermally efficient diesels might be the crowd favourite, this engine is more than capable. The max rating is 3.5 tonnes, with the requisite 350kg towball download capacity provided you're at 130kg below the GVM (meaning your onboard load must be 620kg or less). Theoretical GCM is 7000kg.
Alas, our test vehicle didn't come with a trailer brake controller fitted, though based not just on our past experience but also feedback from numerous owners, you can expect to tow 2.5 tonnes while using around 18–20L/100km. That's about 25 per cent inferior to what a typical dual-cab ute will do, albeit under much more strain.
Dynamically, the Y62 is well-sorted for its target user.
You've got quite sophisticated double-wishbone suspension at both ends, as well as a proprietary passive system called Hydraulic Body Motion Control. This set-up minimises the body lean you'd usually get from a car with such a high roll axis by stiffening the outer-side dampers through clever fluid transfer, and gravity. At the same time, it can give any wheel a greater arc of travel off-road, addressing the issue for a 4x4 lacking solid axles. Read more here.
As a side point, the 200 Series LandCruiser gets a system called KDSS that can actually disengage the stabiliser bars off-road, so in this segment there's no shortage of solutions to marrying on-road sophistication to off-road ability.
There's also a helical LSD at the rear for on-road that's fully lockable for off-road, speed-sensitive power steering, and ventilated disc brakes at both ends. Nissan also avoided the temptation to fit bling-y wheels and retains 'sensible' 18-inch alloys rolling on high-sidewall 265/70 tyres, giving you extra insulation from potholes and corrugations.
The Y62 irons out crappy B-roads really well, with only a slight hint of rattle through the electrically adjustable steering rack giving away perturbation. The noise suppression, kerb weight and dominant seating position mean you simply plough roads into submission. Around town, the large side windows and light steering go some way to addressing the Patrol's sheer mass. Through corners, the big bugger stays flatter than you might think, graded on a curve.
Off-road, the biggest issues are the width and the weight. You've got a fairly generous 272mm of clearance, which someone like ARB will easily improve with some new springs and pure off-road wheels, and approach/departure angles of 34.3 degrees and 26.2 degrees respectively. The wading depth is 700mm sans snorkel, with a relatively high intake point.
There's also a shift-on-the-fly 4WD system with Auto (where the ECU shuffles the torque as needed), 4 High and eventually 4 Low Range. There are various modes called Sand, Snow and Rock that fettle the throttle and ESC to suit a given terrain type.
That touches on one area where the LC200's diesel has an advantage – throttle response. Yet, the Nissan's ridiculously effortless engine lets the Patrol walk up and down nasty terrain features with surprising ease. Provided your trail isn't too wide, consensus says this Y62 will go anywhere a stock GQ or GU would, probably further. Even if it appears softer on the surface.
The behemoth's cabin has seven leather-accented seats, though it's worth noting that the Ti has eight. That'd be a tight fit. The fronts are better described as captain's chairs and both have eight-way electric adjustment and heating/cooling. The driver's seat also has memory presets.
Naturally, there's a heap of standard equipment. All Patrols get: keyless start, button start, three-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch screen with sat-nav, a 360-degree camera and a sunroof.
The Ti-L adds extra stuff such as a ramped-up 13-speaker Bose sound system, a cooler box between the front seats, a power tailgate (which you can turn off and use manually), Xenon headlights instead of halogens, and an Intelligent Rear View Mirror, which relays a rear camera's inputs to said mirror giving you an unimpeded rear view. And yes, it can be turned off and become a regular mirror. I liked it.
It also picks up some active safety features that have been fitted to the Y62 such as active cruise control, forward alert, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning (particularly helpful) and a tyre pressure monitor.
In a crash, the Patrol's physical size and mass obviously plays a role, but there are also six airbags (including curtain bags covering all three seating rows). However, it has no ANCAP rating.
The interior design leaves a bit to be desired, though. It's got more tacky plastic woodgrain than an Emirates A380-800, and the instrument fascia is a bit of a button-fest. More 'traditional' buyers might not mind, but it's feeling its age, despite being supremely comfortable. It's built very solidly, of course. Optimistic types might call it 'pre-aged'.
The second-row seats are also pretty vast, and have 8.0-inch screens embedded in each front-seat headrest that can play USB/HDMI or... DVD. What's a DVD? There are also air vents along the roof covering all three seating rows, two rear USB points, and a ton of storage areas.
Access to the third-row seats is pretty easy, with the middle row tilting and tumbling forward. However, despite the overall dimensions, the rearmost pews are still best for small adults. Unlike the Y61, these seats fold nice and flat into the cargo floor when not in use. The maximum carrying capacity is 750kg. You can also get a cargo barrier fitted for $925 all up.
From an ownership perspective, Nissan has a stingy three-year/100,000km warranty that's inferior to most (if not all) of its major rivals. It's a misstep from the brand, given it should have nothing to fear since the Y62 is not renowned for unreliability.
The Patrol also comes with pretty modest servicing intervals, six months or 10,000km (whichever comes first). The first six visits are priced at $376, $577, $392, $860, $407 and $624. Again, given these are high-distance vehicles as a rule, these factory intervals are shorter than we'd like them to be.
For comparison, a 200 Series LandCruiser V8 petrol costs $220 per service, while the diesel costs $280 per service.
Despite this, after spending a bit of time in the Patrol, I couldn't help but feel it's prone to being unfairly overlooked. It's cumbersome and as environmentally friendly as a bulldozer, but it's also stupendously comfortable and smooth, and unarguable value for money – though I'd be inclined to get the 'base' Ti.
Australia is still LandCruiser country, but the Nissan stacks up in many ways that count, especially financially once you've offset the fuel bills and higher servicing costs against the overall price.