Drive Car of the Year 2021 - Best Upper Large SUV
In the current climate of closed borders and no international holidays, the great Australian road trip has made a heroic comeback.
Both the Nissan Patrol and Toyota LandCruiser have been household four-wheel-drive nameplates for decades, but the last twelve months has seen huge spikes in demand for those big Japanese SUVs.
Why? Because they’re huge and hugely comfortable. And along with being competent tow rigs and great off-road, these big rigs are perfectly suited to long holidaying road trips.
And the Winner is...
The Nissan Patrol’s value equation is impossible to argue in this segment. Patrol’s petrol V8 is a powerhouse on and off road.
Don’t step into this world if you’re looking for sharp handling, flat body control and rewarding dynamics because it’s just simply not here. These two four-wheel-drives are exactly that and excel much more from a performance point of view off-road than on.
Compared to many other vehicles filling showrooms in 2021, both the Patrol and LandCruiser feel dated. Hopelessly, in some cases.
However, compared to anything out there, both the LandCruiser and Patrol offer an enticing mix of big interior space, big engines and huge capability straight off the showroom floor. And of course, both vehicles are supported by a thriving Australian aftermarket industry, if you’re chasing additional performance or personalisation.
While big Toyota four-wheel-drives offered very similar powertrains and packages over the years, the latest generation of Nissan Patrol shook up the status-quo by dropping diesel power and sticking only with a 298kW/560Nm 5.6-litre petrol V8. And although many were dismayed, the Patrol has proved itself over the years to be a competent and capable petrol-only off-roader.
The boot is on the other foot in camp Toyota, however. No more petrol V8, it’s 4.5-litre turbo diesel V8 or nothing. It’s the same engine as the workhorse 70-series LandCruiser, but an additional turbocharger makes for 200kW and 650Nm, running through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Both powertrains offer good old-fashioned high-capacity performance: Plenty of torque available throughout the rev range, but the Patrol has the edge for overall power and straight-line performance.
And we reckon, if you’re towing anything more than 2500 kilograms regularly, then you’re well served to beg, borrow or steal your way into something of this size. Aside from something like a heavy-duty full-size American rig like a Ram 2500, these two are best-in-class for towing. And fuel usage, laden and unladen, is surprisingly closer between the Nissan and the Toyota than you might think.
Both the LandCruiser and Patrol offer seven or eight seats inside (depending on specification), in cabins that are dated but comfortable. Neither have the luxuries of modern infotainment displays or cutting-edge design, but trinkets like refrigerated centre consoles, electric seat adjustment, second-row DVD players and leather trimming are all available in higher specifications.
Read the full comparison at Drive.com.au