2013 NISSAN PATROL REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Price: $92,850 (plus on-roads)
Engine/transmission: 5.6 litre V8 petrol/seven-speed automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 14.5 l/100km | tested: 18.5 l/100km
Australian buyers have had to endure a patient wait for the new Nissan Patrol. It appeared internationally in 2010, but has only this year made it here.
It arrives as a high-end offering that doesn’t take the place of the (continuing) previous model, but sits above it at the top of the tree.
The first, and most overwhelming aspect of Nissan’s new Patrol is the sheer size of it - this new model not only dwarfs everything else on the road, but even shades perennial rival, the Toyota LandCruiser.
There’s also new levels of equipment and technology. Time then for a TMR look to see how the new big kid on the block puts its many attributes to use.
Quality: Internationally, this car (like some others in the Nissan range) wears upmarket Infiniti badges, and the interior reflects that. The woodgrain, leather and high-end plastics all look and feel very impressive.
Everything is precisely assembled, firm and secure.
In fact, it wasn’t until we hit some rough terrain that we could get a noise out of anything inside, coming from the (upright, but unoccupied) third row seating. By the time you’ve packed your own gear, you’ll find it as snug as a vault.
Comfort: With an abundance of space and adjustment on offer in the first two rows there’s little chance anyone will feel cramped.
Taller occupants may perhaps find the middle row a little short in the seat squab, and for those relegated to the rear row the usual limitations on knee room apply (but adults can still perch there easily enough).
Width-wise in the third row, there’s room for two adults, but kids will be an easy fit three across.
Equipment: Considering the relatively hefty price of the Ti model, we found a few items missing from the equipment list. Navigation, seat heaters and Xenon lights wouldn’t go astray at this level.
But, that said, the Ti comes with leather seats with powered front buckets, folding heated mirrors, automatic lights and wipers, floor mats, self-levelling suspension, tri-zone climate control, LED tail-lights, reversing camera, front and rear park sensors, side steps, 18-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker audio with iPod and USB connectivity, Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) suspension, rear diff lock and All-Mode four-wheel-drive with selectable on-road, snow, sand, and rock modes.
Storage: The big Patrol offers plenty of storage inside, with a variety of cup-holders and lidded bins up front. The centre console can be opened forwards or backwards for access to front and middle rows and is huge.
There are door pockets with bottle holders and even third row occupants get four cup holders.
Importantly the boot measures 550 litres with all seats deployed, plus a small underfloor storage tray. With the third row folded capacity grows to 1490 litres and there’s a gargantuan 3170 litres on offer to the back of the front seats.
How much space is that? We managed to shift an entire lounge room in just two trips. While the boot floor is almost waist-high, reaching up to close the tailgate was not too much of a stretch for average-sized adults.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: There is no way to hide the size of this thing - around town its like punting the QE II through Venetian canals. Given its size, you might expect a truck-like drive, but that isn’t the case.
Nissan’s VK56VD engine delivers smooth, linear power - 298kW at 5800rpm - and is happy to run to the redline. Whether overtaking, getting away from the line or tackling a mountain road, It can move this big bus very, very quickly.
Peak torque of 560Nm doesn’t arrive until 4800rpm, but left to its own devices the Patrol is happy to shift gears before 2500rpm and is still under-stressed doing so.
The engine benefits from variable valve timing and direct injection, but misses out on fuel saving idle stop. Doing the school run and a few trips to the shops saw the trip computer pushing past 25.0 l/100km.
With some highway running and a day of heavy off-road work the average settled on 18.5 l/100km. Not quite the factory claimed figure, but for something that weighs 2.7 tonnes and with a well-muscled petrol V8 under the snout, things could be worse.
As for the rough stuff, the Patrol Ti has lost none of its predecessor’s four-wheel-drive ability.
With an easy-to-use All-Mode 4x4 system, all we needed to do was select the terrain type (rock for our craggy mountain climb) and choose high or low range at the press of a button. Do this, and it will clamber up anything you’d sensibly point it at.
Refinement: Comfort and refinement aboard the Patrol is impressive to say the least. The engine is velvety smooth throughout the rev range and while the seven-speed auto may be a little relaxed, it is, at all times, flawlessly smooth.
Wind and road noise are effectively kept at bay, and the ride is never unsettled nor overly firm.
Suspension: By employing wishbone suspension front and rear, the on-road behaviour of the Patrol is very calm and well-fettled.
Thanks to the HBMC system, Ti and Ti-L models do without stabiliser bars, instead using interlinked hydraulics to maintain impressively level cornering.
Importantly though, it becomes apparent on the off-road sections that wheel articulation has not suffered for it.
Steering is effortless, and heavily assisted - no bad thing in a vehicle of this size. Off-road, despite the assistance, the steering resists kick-back through the wheel (something you’ll appreciate when picking through heavily rutted sections or rocks).
Braking: Given its rugged ability, the short-travel brake pedal comes as a surprise, but brake force is easy to meter out. With weight as the enemy, stopping distances can feel a little long and the nose will dive under hard stops.
On gravel the ABS calibration doesn’t disappoint, pulling up strongly and straight as an arrow.
ANCAP rating: Not rated.
Safety features: Vehicle Dynamic Control with Traction Control, ABS brakes with brakeforce distribution, six airbags (dual front, 1st row side, and curtain airbags for all three rows).
All seats feature three-point seatbelts with height adjustment for front and outboard second row seats, front load limiting pretensioners and adjustable headrests for all except the centre third row position.
Off road safety is enhanced by hill start and hill descent control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Service costs: Service intervals are every 6 months or 10,000km. Nissan Capped price servicing offered fixed price standard servicing up to six years/120,000km with prices ranging from $337.24 up to $1140.26 for the major 100,000km service.
Consult your Nissan dealer for further information.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Toyota LandCruiser VX ($95,990) - The traditional rival (many see this as a two-horse race) to the Patrol offers equally gargantuan dimensions, is equally capable off-road and seats eight just as comfortably.
The interior may not look as polished, and the V8 engine is down on power and torque but there’s still plenty to like in the legendary Toyota. (see LandCruiser reviews)
Land Rover Discovery4 V8 ($129,00) - While the Discovery asks for a healthy chunk more cashola, it offers a fuller equipment list. More closely aligned to the up-spec Ti-L Patrol.
Just as rugged off-road, but with a more sophisticated suite of off-road technology. Inside space is a little tighter and seating is only for seven. (see Discovery reviews)
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 ($76,000) - If all you really want is a commanding driving position and a thumping V8, try the ballistic Jeep. More compact, seating for five and the only car here that can’t tow 3500kg.
But open the taps on the 6.4 litre V8 and all will be revealed. It’s also considerably cheaper and richly equipped - just don’t expect to get nearly as off the beaten track. (see Grand Cherokee reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
For large families there’s room to move and room to grow, and for adventurers there’s plenty of scope to stack in camping gear.
And if you’ve got a horse, or two, the strong V8 will make short work of horse float duty. Or boat or caravan for that matter. This thing can haul, but you’ll pay at the bowser.
Nissan’s biggest rival is, naturally, the closely matched Toyota LandCruiser. For now, if you’re not shopping for a diesel, on our assessment, the newer fresher Patrol can claim a narrow victory.