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Are Nissan Patrols good?

The Nissan Patrol is tried, tested and proven to be a reliable, capable and comfortable off-road people mover. For decades, it has had a rock-solid reputation to tackle the toughest of terrains with its petrol-powered V8 certainly having the power to keep going. Add that to the all-round, independent suspension for a smooth ride and a posh interior with wood grain and lots of leather, and you can be sure to be very comfortable inside.

No reason for Nissan to change any of this, nor the gearbox, or any other mechanical part. This 2020 update is purely cosmetic, with a new front and rear bumper that takes the largest of Nissan vehicles into the new next decade. They did add plenty of safety technology, which is what you would expect from a modern car in that price range nowadays. Let’s have a closer look.

The Nissan Patrol Royale is a heavy piece of equipment that has been gussied up to crawl through high streets, business districts, and uptowns; all with that off-road potential in its back pocket. I am still so unfamiliar with luxury SUVs because how can something so robust, so tough, and so burly, be as refined as a business class flight on Qatar Airways? Believe me, the 2019 Nissan Patrol Royale is big in parts of the world and big whether in it or standing next to it. Let’s get into the review because I have a lot of ground to cover – and I mean a lot. 

Another month, another driving event. The formula is the same: early call time, briefing over breakfast, event shirt that probably won’t fit, and driving in convoy. But there were two things different with this motoring event: 1) I have never driven a Nissan Patrol before, and this could indeed be the first-ever Philippine media drive for Nissan’s massive SUV; and, 2) The shirt fits. Barely.

The Patrol needs no introduction. This model, along with the Toyota Land Cruiser, created a premium Japanese-SUV duopoly that has been unchallenged since the ’90s. And while there are more premium 4×4 offerings today than there were two decades ago, the cachet of the Patrol and the Land Cruiser is undiminished. And there’s the undeniably strong nostalgia factor.

I think we need a history lesson

The ‘latest’ Patrol, codename Y62, has been around since 2010. And it’s still a proper off-roader at heart, albeit one festooned with much luxury and shiny faux-wood trim.

It can trace its roots back to the early Fifties – the original Patrol was launched in ’51, sold exclusively in Japan and used mainly by its military. A few years later, a second-gen Patrol was allegedly the first car to cross Australia’s notoriously inhospitable Simpson Desert.

This Patrol is a bit softer than its predecessors. An SUV that can do off-road stuff, not a 4×4 that’s built exclusively to do it. The Aussies were especially unhappy the last one, the Y61, was taken off sale there (though you can still buy one in the Middle East, where it’s sold as the Patrol Super Safari), because it was a proper back-to-basics off-roader. There aren’t many of those around anymore.

Driveability

What else can you expect from a 5.6-litre V8 than an immense amount of torque and power in abundance? Obviously, the Patrol is not a sporty car, weighing in at almost 3 tonnes, but with 298kW and 560Nm, there is very little that will stop you. All of this power is controlled by the seven-speed auto, which does the trick smoothly. If you want, you can put it in manual mode and push the engine just a little bit harder. This also comes in handy when you just want to hear the V8 growl a little bit, as otherwise, the Patrol is comfortably silent.

Whether you’re accelerating from a standstill or have to overtake somebody on the highway, the engine and gearbox don’t hesitate for one moment. Surprisingly, it still drives quite nimble and is easy to maneuver in the city, something you perhaps wouldn’t expect from such a big car. Its steering is sharp and precise but doesn’t except a real engaging driving experience. The Patrol is there to enjoy the comfort in silence, not to be pushed.

Offroad, there is no doubt that the Patrol is in a league of its own. It doesn’t only look the part; rugged and tough, but also has 273mm of ground clearance, an approach angle of 34.4 degrees and departure angle of 26.3 degrees with a wading depth of 700mm. Suffice to say, that nothing will stand in its way. With several off-road modes you don’t even have to think about what your Patrol has to do, it knows.

Liveability

Considering the Patrol is over 5 metres long, almost 2 metres wide and 2 metres high, it’s no wonder there is ample space inside its cabin. The driver and passenger seats are lush and supportive, where second-row passengers (three adults easily) also have nothing to complain about. It gets a bit tight in the third row, but even a tall person wouldn’t mind sitting there for a shorter trip. And even if you fill it up with people, you still got almost 468 litres of cargo space. Drop the third row, and you’re got 1413 litres – not to mention the increase to 2632 litres – if you also fold the second row. It’s almost like a ute inside if it wasn’t for the seats not folding completely flat.

Everybody gets to enjoy the leather, the aircon and some woodgrain inserts. The front passenger and driver can use the 8.0-inch touchscreen for the multimedia or any of the overload of buttons in the centre console. This looks a bit old school (and hasn’t updated since 2010 – unlike the outside with the new LED head- and tail lights), but still works the way everybody expects it to. It still looks stylish though and has all the creature comforts you can expect, like sat-nav and in-car entertainment.

Cost

Choosing a Patrol is easy: the entry-level Ti or Ti-L. The first starts around 85k, the latter just over 100k. Both come with the aforementioned 5.6-litre V8 petrol engine and seven-speed auto. The Ti is equipped with:

  • Satellite Navigation
  • Electric Seat – Front seats
  • Intelligent Cruise Control
  • Blind Spot Warning
  • Around-View Monitor & Emergency Braking
  • Intelligent Forward Collision Warning
  • 3,500kg braked towing capacity
  • Leather accented Seat and Steering wheel

On top of that, the Ti-L gives you:

  • Intelligent Rear View Monitor
  • Second-row seat entertainment screens
  • Driver’s seat memory (2 settings) including side mirrors & Steering column
  • 13 Premium Bose® Speaker
  • Sunroof & Roof rails
  • Heated and cooled front seats

Whichever one you choose, you can count on the fuel consumption of 14.4L/100km, which with its 140-litre tank gives you a range of over 900km. Also standard in both, is the updated safety gear like AEB, front and side-impact airbags for driver and front passenger and curtain airbags for all three rows, reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring. The Patrol comes with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre factory warranty.

I see. Let’s start with the inside.

Ok, so there’s acres of space wherever you sit (even in the third row, which can take three people) and the seats are wide, soft and pillowy, but the dashboard is distinctly 2007. It’s packed with buttons and, while they all work (and will no doubt continue to for decades to come), there’s just no escaping the fact they, and the infotainment system, look like they belong in a car from a decade and a half ago. Get in a Patrol in 2018, and it’s eminently obvious this is a car that was released in 2010.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

I’m not going to beat around the bush: the Patrol is a big beast of a thing – it looks huge – but it wears its size well and looks good with it.  

This beefy wagon is 5175mm long (with a 3075mm wheelbase), 1995mm wide, 1940mm high and it weighs 2812kg. It’s long, wider and heavier than the LandCruiser 200 Series but it’s marginally shorter (30mm, in fact).

It takes up plenty of real estates, when stationary, and it looks even more impressive when it’s rumbling along the road – like an armoured mini-bus – and I mean that in a good way.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Patrol has a 5.6-litre V8 engine producing 298kW at 5800rpm and 560Nm at 4000rpm, big numbers you’d expect out of a big power plant.

The seven-speed auto with manual mode and adaptive shift control – whatever that is – and this is a great driving transmission, very cluey.

How practical is the space inside?

Nissan claims that cargo space is 467.7 litres in the boot (with second and third-row upright), 1413.4 litres (with the third row folded flat); and 2623.2 litres (with second and third rows folded flat). That’s a lot of room but remember those seats don’t fold flat or entirely out of the way, so practical packing space is impacted.

The boot space has cargo hooks and a 12V socket, as well as tyre-changing tools under the floor. (The full-size spare tyre is underslung at the rear.)

The third row has one top tether anchorage point. It’s pretty ordinary back here – the seats are flat and unsupportive – and it’s very squashed.

All three rows get aircon – there are roof-mounted vents – and there are a few handy storage spaces in the third row, but no cup-holders. 

The second-row seats have a top tether point and an ISOFIX point on both of the outer seats.

And it’s very comfortable: there’s generally plenty of space in such a cavernous cabin, and when I sat behind my driving position there was ample legroom.

There are cup holders in the fold-down armrest as well as controls for the aircon on the back of the up-front storage bin.

Upfront, it’s a well-appointed interior – there’s leather everywhere, as well as soft-touch, padded and durable surfaces. 

Fit and finish is very impressive and it’s all rather stylish if your idea of style is your grandad’s 1970’s pool room. Lucky for me, I reckon that’s true style.

The dash is like an aircraft cockpit – it’s a confusion of dials, knobs and switches – and it takes a while to work it all out.  

There’s that 8.0-inch touchscreen I mentioned earlier, Bluetooth connectivity, steering-wheel-mounted everything, eight-way power-adjustable seats, and more. There are enough USB points to keep phones and tablets charged and ready. 

As well as being a real premium space, the cabin has a practical feel about it: there are plenty of storage spaces, which is not a surprise because there’s a heap of room, and it’s functional and comfortable.

Is it old-fashioned to drive, too?

Yeah. We take back what we said earlier. This is not a sports utility vehicle, and there are no sports involved. It’s comfortable and easy enough to drive, and the 5.6-litre N/A V8 gives enough acceleration and good but subdued noise, but don’t be tricked into thinking this is anything like a modern, unibody SUV. The separate chassis makes it good off-road (we tried, can confirm) sure, but on-road it makes the Patrol ponderous and truck-like. Best ignore any buttons with the word ‘Sport’ on them, forget about the glassy steering, and just sink into the throne-like driver’s seat, and waft your way to wherever you’re going.

I think I still want one

If you’re in the US, the Armada is basically the same thing, just with a few of the more hardcore off-road tech taken out. So if you really want one, then, by all means, go ahead. But in Europe? Don’t worry, and you’re not missing out. Our modern SUVs are better to drive, more comfortable, faster and some will rival the Patrol off-road too. Especially so-equipped Range Rovers, with their deeply intelligent Terrain Response system. The Patrol is weirdly likable we’ll admit, and well suited to the markets in which it’s sold, but it’s not for us. Sorry.

The Nissan Patrol driving event may be just another schedule on the motoring beat calendar, but it’s a drive I won’t soon forget. It taught me the difference between mass-market SUVs and premium 4x4s. Owning a diesel SUV means you’ve arrived in the world. When you pull up in a Patrol, the world knows you’ve arrived.

If you’re looking for the biggest, most capable and extensively equipped offroad people carrier, the 2020 Nissan Patrol is definitely for you. It’s got a reliable reputation and will take you anywhere in comfort and style. It’s definitely making a statement, as you’ll be swooshing along in comfort with all the power you need right under your foot. Come see us at Motorama Nissan to experience the new Patrol for yourself.

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