If you’ve read any of our recent reviews, you’ll know we rate the 2020 Nissan Patrol highly. In fact, even the first iteration of the Y62 stacked up well, especially value-wise, with the recent facelift ensuring it looked sharper and more contemporary.
On paper at least, the only real issue – as noted in my most recent review – is the fact we don’t get the best infotainment system that you’ll find in other Patrol markets around the world. Sure, the stereotypical Australian Patrol buyer might be a bit less concerned with bang-up-to-date tech, but it does take away from what would be an otherwise exceptional upper large SUV.
Recently, we’ve spoken to some 200 Series owners who, while they love their ‘Cruiser as you’d expect a rusted-on Toyota enthusiast to do – aren’t especially enamoured with the diesel usage under prolonged towing.
Check any of the enthusiast forums, and you’ll find diesel 200s using not much less than a petrol 200 under load. Interesting. We’ve also received plenty of correspondence from readers wanting to know about the Patrol – not just for towing either – given the pricing is still so sharp.
Despite the price rises that came with the facelift, the Ti as tested here, feels and looks like a highly equipped 4WD for the starting price of $75,990 before on-road costs.
In reality, from behind the wheel and out on the open road (taking the infotainment out of the equation), it feels like a hell of a lot more 4WD than the price indicates.
Further, the proprietary satellite navigation and Bluetooth connection work well enough to form the argument that you don’t really need a bigger screen with smartphone connectivity.
We’d definitely appreciate a clearer rear-view camera, even if we can live without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And if you’re heading off on the lap around Australia, with or without a caravan in tow, you’re going to place more weight on ability, efficiency, comfort, value for money and servicing, than you are infotainment.
Before you warm up your typing fingers and get ready to vent, don’t fall into the trap – as someone always does on a Patrol review – of claiming ‘yeah but they don’t sell many so Australians obviously don’t want them’. Incorrect. Nissan is selling every Patrol it can get onto Australian soil. Supply is much more of an issue than demand in this country.
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is standard across both model grades in the Patrol range, and the AEB system also features pedestrian detection. In addition, the updated Patrol also gets rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring. Further standard equipment highlights for the entry-level model on test include satellite navigation, electric front seats, surround-view monitor, leather seat trim and steering wheel trim.
No diesel engine can match the silky-smooth way a big petrol V8 delivers its power and torque, and perhaps even more crucially, the way it feels to drive.
The 5.6-litre V8 under the Patrol’s lofty bonnet is a cracker, and it’s effortless too: 298kW at 5800rpm and 560Nm at 4000rpm feel utterly easy and the seven-speed auto is sharp enough, too.
Our CarAdvice trailer weighs approximately 700kg with all our straps and gear stowed on-board. The 1962 Nissan Patrol you can see in the photos (which we were duty bound to save from purgatory on a farm in Wagga Wagga) weighs in at around 1650kg.
We also loaded the Patrol up with two VW Beetle front seats, and the third-row seats for a 60-Series ‘Cruiser. Strapped into and under the Patrol we had a 280SL Mercedes-Benz bonnet, a VW Beetle front end, and a complete drum-to-drum VW Beetle transaxle.
A simple recovery became an epic parts haul. Don’t ask.
So, we had somewhere in the region of 2600kg-2700kg in, and attached to, the Patrol. Not a super heavy weight by any means, but it’s the kind of weight plenty of caravan, race car, and horse float owners will need to contend with. Our trailer has quality electric brakes too, so safety is taken care of in that sense. Still, we were nowhere near the 3500kg that the Patrol is rated to tow.
We know the engine and gearbox (along with the driveline trickery) work well off-road, we know that the combination is punchier around town than it has any right to be, and we know from previous testing, that against an ADR claim of 14.4L/100km, we averaged 16.9L/100km in traffic.
We saw a live figure under 10L/100km unladen on the freeway, but our average flattened out at 15.9L/100km with the load on, on the run from Wagga Wagga, across to Canberra and back to Sydney.
The 140L fuel tank means – with a 50kg safety range – you get a cruising distance while towing of 830km. Given we made no real attempt to drive frugally and just got to the speed limit as quickly as we could and stayed there, that’s pretty impressive.
As you’d expect, with an empty trailer in tow on the highway, you pretty quickly forget that it’s even there. Anything under 1500kg as a matter of fact, hardly even registers. Hitching the trailer up is easy enough, although we would prefer a better, more sophisticated rear-view camera. If you’ve got someone to guide you in to hitch up the trailer, it won’t matter, but if you’re working solo, a better camera would be ideal.
The comfort inside the cabin that we noted around town is just as evident on longer trips – broad seats, more than enough adjustment, excellent visibility, proper room for adults in all five seats, and a sense of quality and insulation everywhere.
There’s no doubt the Patrol is a genuine long-haul 4WD option. There’s no sophistication to the infotainment system but the gear you do get, works well. Audio clarity is solid, and the system is easy enough to work with.
Once we had the full load on board, the Patrol was remarkably unfussed by the weight behind it. You can see in the photos there is very slight sag in the rear suspension, but it’s not significant. The steering never felt light or floaty, and the ride remained composed and insulated, even over the rear axle. Some of the country B-roads between Wagga Wagga and Canberra were pretty rough and ready, and the Patrol remained composed.
The engine copes with the weight remarkably easy. You can thunder up to 100km/h or 110km/h from a rolling freeway on-ramp, and no matter how long the hill, the Patrol just stays at the speed you ask of it. It doesn’t even feel the need to kick down gears willy nilly, such is the smooth torque delivery. When the gearbox does work through the ratios, it’s smooth and snappy with no indecision or slurring.
The beauty of driving a larger tow vehicle that is fit-for-purpose is how little the weight affects the behaviour of the vehicle itself.
You will have seen in our testing that we often write, 'just because a vehicle can tow a certain weight in theory, doesn’t mean it should'. A smaller, lighter tow vehicle would be getting shunted and moved around once you get up to the weight we were towing, but there’s no such sensation with the Patrol.
Unless you have a super wide trailer or caravan, the standard exterior rear-view mirrors are up to the task as well, a common bugbear for regular towing owners. The Patrol’s mirrors are more than good enough for what most of you will need.
Perhaps the true measure of the quality of a vehicle when you’re towing with it, is whether or not you effectively forget that there’s any trailer there at all, and that happens quickly with the Patrol. Towing feels easy, safe, and enjoyable. And, if you’re going to be towing over long distances, up and down hilly countryside, you’ll value those factors.
The 2020 Patrol isn’t perfect, but it’s a seriously impressive tow vehicle. The infotainment isn’t as contemporary as it could be, the rear-view camera isn’t as clear as it could be, and you could argue that some of the trim is a little old school.
Its engine however is exceptional – powerful and more efficient than you would expect, it’s comfortable and competent across all disciplines, and its value equation is still unquestioned as it has been for some time.
You’ll never sway the LandCruiser faithful, but if you’re not a rusted-on Toyota fan and you need the best tow vehicle outside of a full-size US truck, head into your Nissan dealer and get on a waiting list.