Those who watch the monthly roll-in of vehicle sales figures would assume the Nissan Patrol is in a bit of hot water. Numbers indicate it’s not selling well, and is getting its arse handed to it by the LandCruiser week in, week out.
That’s not the whole story, however. While it is being outsold eight-to-one, Nissan is selling every Patrol it brings into Australia, and further growth is hamstrung by availability. That’s no mean feat for a big, expensive petrol 4x4 in the current automotive climate.
When Nissan changed over to the Y62 Patrol, there was serious rage from the enthusiast base. The all-new Patrol had no option of a ute, had all-round independent suspension underneath and a glitzy, upmarket interior. The recipe had no doubt changed.
The true bone of contention was the fact there was no diesel option. What? No heir to the legendary TD42 that could finally right the wrongs of the ‘hand grenade’ ZD30? Many proud Patrol owners stopped topping up their radiators and checking their head gaskets to denounce this heir to the beloved nameplate.
We’ve got a 2019 Nissan Patrol Ti-L, which goes for $89,880 plus on-road costs. And considering there isn’t a lot of stock floating around, it might be hard work getting a big discount on that price.
What that gets you is a seven-seater 4x4 that’s 5165mm long, 1995mm wide and 1940mm high. It’s big, and it’s designed to maximise the size. Body panels run long and curve gently, with little eye-catching details. The roof refuses to rake down, and corners bulge to exemplify heft.
There’s no doubt a big petrol V8 in a vehicle the size of Murrurundi is never going to be an efficient set-up. When you’ve got 298kW at 5800rpm and 560Nm at 4000rpm pushing a 2750kg lump through the air, forget about fuel figures in the single digits.
While Nissan quotes as low as 11.0 litres per hundred kilometres on the highway, our experience is you’ll need a real feather foot and a good run to achieve that. The fuel-usage quote around town is 20.2, which is another figure easy to enlarge with real-world daily driving.
The quoted combined fuel figure of 14.4L/100km is on the money from our experience, however. Our fuel usage over the week-long test, admittedly including a majority of highway driving, averaged out at 13L/100km. And that’s entirely acceptable, without being impressive – with 95RON premium unleaded recommended.
When stacked up against the 227kW/439Nm petrol-powered LandCruiser Sahara, the Patrol does impress. Power is much better, and fuel economy isn’t far off line-ball (13.4 combined).
Compare the diesel LandCruiser (9.5 combined), and the Patrol doesn’t stack up terribly well. Our experience is that it’s difficult to reach Toyota’s figures, however, and the twin-turbo diesel is fond of a good slurp around town and when working hard.
Another area where the Patrol absolutely leaves the LandCruiser in the dust, along with peak power and straight-line performance, is value. Consider that getting an equally specced 200 Series Sahara will require $114,000 (or $119K for the diesel), you’d be remiss to focus on fuel consumption too much. It’s only one part of the vehicle ownership equation.
Many long-term Patrol owners are happy to keep pumping that 98RON at the bowser, smug with the fact that they don’t have turbochargers, intercoolers, EGRs, DPFs and SCR to worry about. Diesel engines are not the simple concoction of mechanical pumps, bearings and gear sets they once were. There is a lot of complexity and ancillary systems these days, which can have a detrimental effect on a vehicle’s long-term performance and longevity.
Owners shouldn’t worry too much about the lack of live axles underneath; the Patrol is still mighty, mighty capable. Sure, you might not get the Instagram love rolling in like a chopped GQ with four feet of rear-end droop, but this new Patrol would likely out-drive the old banger on hard tracks.
It might not look like it, but the Patrol flexes plenty, feeling stable on steep tracks and side angles. Traction control feels sharply tuned for climbing hills and rocks, although you’ll need to disable it completely when you get on the sand. Traction control is reasonably well tuned, and the locking rear differential is always welcome company when you’re off-road.
Despite weighing almost as much as three Suzuki Jimnys, or almost exactly two Hyundai Ioniq Hybrids, the Patrol feels unstoppable on sand. Big 265/70R18 tyres (just over 32.5 inches, bigger than the Wrangler Rubicon) give you lots of sidewall for airing down, and there aren’t any big tubes of steel getting in the way underneath. Despite being a bit light on for protection, the Patrol has some seriously good clearance – one of the best in fact. And, of course, that engine makes short work of what is normally power-sapping sand.
It’s an awesome motor on-road, as well. Having this Japanese-built monolith rise up and seriously boogie away from a set of lights, accompanied by a deep, muted but satisfying bellow, feels a little strange at first.
It feels like Nick Blackhurst and Richard Brunning (of Project Binky fame) have shoehorned something outrageous into something else tiny and mostly illogical, except the Patrol is far from tiny. The engine has an angry, fast-revving edge when driven hard, really coming to life above 4000rpm with purpose you just wouldn’t expect from a big, bloated 4x4.
Cruise gently around town, and there’s enough torque below that peak point to move along demurely. The seven-speed gearbox lets revs sit just above idle, but the engine has enough smoothness and grunt there for anything this side of overtaking. And when you do shift up and down, it’s a smooth operator.
The ride is impressively smooth, as well. Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) is a system of hydraulic cylinders, cross-linked between wheels and operating in lieu of a traditional swaybar. They limit body roll by sensing shifting weight, and moving fluid to stiffen things up. There’s an additional benefit in having independent suspension all-round: supple spring rates and low unsprung masses let the Patrol ride smoothly across crappy surfaces. It’s a similar experience to Toyota’s (mechanically different) KDSS.
The Patrol’s interior design is a bit of a funny one. Hailing from the era of ‘more buttons equals more better’, it’s a busy centre console that is left feeling a little bit chaotic and dated. The faux woodgrain can be a bit take-it-or-leave-it, especially when there is so much of it. For me, there’s a little too much of a cheap casino vibe going on. The bunched trimming on the doors could be misconstrued as poor fitment, as well.
The infotainment unit is certainly dated. This is one area of new-vehicle development that is moving forward so quickly, and the Patrol’s system is feeling the pinch of progress. It has navigation and lots of interesting features, but the design is far from intuitive, and the operating system feels slow and cumbersome. Crucially for some, it’s lacking Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Plonk the new Nissan ‘AIVI’ system as seen in the Navara in there, and it would be a different story.
While potentially lacking in style, it comes in strong on space. The Patrol is almost 2m wide, and the interior feels it. This size of a full-size Yankee ute, I can’t think of anything that feels so capacious. The seats are comfortable, with mountains of space in every direction. And who doesn’t love a cooled centre console?
The second row is gargantuan, with an incredible amount of room in the footwell. You can fit five in better than most, and the built-in 8.0-inch screens and wireless headphones will likely keep discontent at a minimum for those long family journeys. Just don’t forget to pack the DVDs.
You’d assume the third row would be equally as spacious, but you’d be wrong. The second row doesn’t slide, and those in the third row are left with precious little room. Head room is limited, as well. It leaves the Patrol feeling more like a 5+2 arrangement, with the third row only suiting kids. And phlegmatic ones, at that.
The fact that the 60/40 split of the second row still favours a left-hand drive is an annoying hangover from the Patrol’s chief markets (Middle East and USA, which also explains why a diesel isn’t part of the line-up).
Fold down the third row, and 550L of storage turns into 1490L. It’s a massive amount of space, complete with a 12V plug and powered tailgate.
Don't forget the Patrol is a worthy tow rig as well, provided you are happy to keep fuel up to it. There's a 3,500 kilogram towing capacity, and a big 7,000 kilogram Gross Combination Mass, letting you use all of the 3,500kg GVM and all of the towing capacity. Although, there are deduction on your payload, depending on how much weight you have on the ball.
Servicing your Patrol through the dealer will cost you $376, $577, $392, $860, $407, $624 concurrently, every 10,000km or six months. Totalling $3236 over three years or 60,000km, it’s not exactly cheap, but the Patrol is a big unit. There’s plenty of metal, oil and rubber to stay on top of.
As of the 1st of April, Nissan’s warranty offering has improved to five years and unlimited kilometres, bringing it into line with the competition.
While the Ti-L is certainly not short on flash features, saving 17-large on the Ti is likely the smart option. You’ll lose the DVD screens, cooled centre console, heated and cooled seats and powered tailgate, but the driveline, interior trimming and HBMC are all the same.
The Ti-L is now made more compelling with some safety and convenience kit, however: adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, intelligent brake assist, blind-spot monitoring, 360-degree camera, and intelligent rear-view mirror. Those last three are particularly handy for a vehicle of such magnitude.
Its lack of diesel power is a big miss. The Cummins 5.0-litre diesel V8 that just recently got axed from the Titan would have been perfect, and given the Patrol much more appeal. Regardless, the sole petrol option still rates very well, and is worth the consideration of anyone looking at a big 4x4.
The value proposition is impossible to look past, although you’ll need to take the dated interior design and fairly heavy fuel usage in your stride. If I needed a vehicle for driving bulk long-distance kilometres, then this would be right at the pointy end.