Car reviews - Nissan - Patrol - Ti-L
Lusty petrol V8, premium ride comfort, surprising straight-line performance for size, roomy interior, price compared to LC200, centre console chill box
Room for improvement
No diesel option, outdated dashboard and infotainment, vague steering, fuel economy
Nissan’s gargantuan Patrol SUV is supremely comfortable and capable but flawed
27 Feb 2019
WHEN Nissan’s new Y62 Patrol arrived in 2013 to replace the tried-and-true Y61 generation, it represented a big change for one of the Japanese brand’s most-loved nameplates.
Gone were the old-school basic switchgear and solid axles beloved by off-roading fans, replaced by a more modern cabin and independent suspension to truly bring it into the 21st century.
The underpowered 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine was also swapped out for something with considerably more punch – a beefy 5.6-litre petrol V8, however oddly for Australia, no diesel option was offered alongside it.
Since launching, the Y62 has struggled to match the prolific sales performance of its main rival, the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series, so we took Nissan’s biggest and most expensive offering on a cross-state road trip to try to find out why.
Price and equipment
The more expensive of the two-variant Patrol range, the Ti-L checks in at $88,990 plus on-road costs, which compared to its one true rival – the 200 Series LandCruiser – represents a significant drop in price from its top-spec variant, which in petrol form is the $115,201 Sahara.
In the four-variant LandCruiser range, the Patrol Ti-L sits between the mid-spec GXL ($83,571) and VX ($93,781), and is priced nearly identically to the GXL fitted with the popular twin-turbo diesel V8 engine ($88,671). Full disclosure – this review will see the Patrol compared to the LandCruiser, well, a lot.
From a value standpoint, the Patrol starts strongly, and for those not willing to fork out for the interior luxuries of the Ti-L, the base-level Ti can be had for $71,990 – a lot of car for the money.
Standard specification on the Ti-L includes 18-inch alloys, automatic Xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors, surround-view monitor, leather-accented interior, sunroof, 8.0-inch infotainment system, traffic monitoring system, 13-speaker Bose audio, keyless entry and push-button start, automatic power windows all round, tri-zone climate control with rear A/C controls, twin 8.0-inch second-row entertainment screens with headphones, power tailgate, centre console cool box, full-size spare wheel, hydraulic independent suspension, off-road monitor and disc brakes all round.
On the safety front, the top-spec Patrol scores six airbags, two second-row and one third-row child restraints, front seatbelt warnings, hill-descent control, active cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, intelligent brake assist and tyre pressure monitor.
Considering how much vehicle you get for the price, Nissan has managed to pack an impressive amount of specification into the Patrol Ti-L.
Even more impressive is that the entry-level Ti also features the majority of the Ti-L’s spec, for $17,000 less.
For the money, buyers do not miss out on standard equipment levels with Nissan’s upper-large SUV.
One problem plaguing some Nissan models is an infotainment system and switchgear that are beginning to feel outdated and stale, and unfortunately the Patrol is also a victim of this.
As the most expensive model in the brand’s line-up, we were hoping the Ti-L would exude a feeling of luxury, and while certain features and touchpoints do so, the dashboard and multimedia system feel like they come from a previous-generation model.
Make no mistake, the Patrol’s interior is a huge step up in luxury from the Y61 generation, however, the 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system and satellite navigation unit are slow in operation and basic in screen resolution and graphics.
Furthermore, despite a huge and slightly confusing array of buttons, there is no home screen button, making system navigation clunky and tiresome. Making phone calls through the system is also laborious.
The one highlight of the multimedia system is a 13-speaker Bose audio system, which combined with the Patrol’s low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels offered great sound quality.
Much of the switchgear is surrounded by a classy wooden trim, however the buttons themselves are both too cluttered and busy, and finished in a cheap-looking grey plastic. Smarter packaging and a better finish would go a long way towards lifting the luxury of the interior and making it feel more modern.
Supple black leather trim adorns the seats, dashboard, steering wheel, gear shifter, centre console and doors, and ensures most touchpoints are soft and comfortable. Some of the leather on the doors was slightly crimped and could have been finished better, but it is a small complaint.
The vast centre console features a terrain selector, wood trim with two cupholders, a 12V port, adjustment for the heated and ventilated seats, and a roomy fridge in place of the centre storage area, which proved very handy in the dry and dusty country.
Absent from the centre console is a parking brake which is instead foot-operated, which for the price feels a bit cheap.
A leather steering wheel features the usual array of buttons, and the analogue instrument cluster comes with a small black-and-white digital display with a number of readouts.
The wide leather seats offer fantastic comfort with supple cushioning and quality leather, heating and cooling, and eight-way electric adjustment.
Overhead, a sunroof lights up the cabin, which as expected comes with plentiful head, shoulder and legroom for first and second-row occupants.
You would hope so, given it is 190mm longer, 25mm wider, 60mm higher and rides on a 225mm longer wheelbase than the LandCruiser.
Kids can be entertained on long trips with twin 8.0-inch entertainment screens on the back of the front seats, which also come with headphones – no doubt a relief for parents.
Rear occupants score their own A/C controls with foot and roof-mounted vents and an arrangement of charging ports, while the centre-console fridge can also open from the rear.
The two seats in the third row are nearly large enough for adult passengers with slightly cramped legroom, but still feature two A/C vents for extra comfort.
Boot space is still respectable with all seven seats up, and is cavernous with the rear pews folded.
The Patrol’s interior is conducive to a comfortable and roomy experience for all occupants, however we would like to see the infotainment and switchgear updated for a more premium feel.
Engine and transmission
While the LandCruiser comes with the choice of petrol or turbo-diesel engines, just one donk is offered in the Patrol – a beefy 5.6-litre aspirated petrol V8 pumping out 298kW at 5800rpm and 560Nm at 4000rpm, with power being sent to all four wheels full-time through a seven-speed automatic transmission.
While one of the Patrol’s biggest criticisms is that it only comes in petrol V8 form – and it is a valid criticism – we can say that after a week of driving, the big bent-eight is one of our favourite aspects of the imposing SUV.
The Petrol V8 is far more enjoyable and car-like to drive than the LandCruiser’s 4.5-litre twin-turbo-diesel V8, with prodigious and seductive power that unexpectedly puts a big smile on our face.
Throttle response is quick and power delivery linear, with the engine willingly revving up to 6000-6200rpm and surprising us with how quickly it is able to get the 2.7-tonne Patrol up to highway speeds.
The V8 is a great engine for highway cruising, with seriously impressive overtaking at 100km/h that gives confidence when passing on a single-lane road.
While some larger SUVs struggle to inch past the car in front when overtaking despite full throttle input, the Patrol feels like it can keep accelerating on and on, and the noise the V8 makes is also addictive and far superior to Toyota’s oil-burner.
While the engine revs hard and sounds great, once cruising the revs drop to below 2000rpm at 100km/h and the engine note is hushed and barely heard.
The seven-speed auto worked well with the engine, shifting sensibly and holding the gears all the way to redline when needed.
However there is one obvious drawback to the petrol V8, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a 5.6-litre engine in a 2.7-tonne car is going to equal a sizeable fuel bill.
Official combined fuel economy in the Patrol is 14.5 litres per 100km, however in our week with the car we recorded a better figure – 13.6L/100km – but this is due to most of our driving being highway cruising from Melbourne to Deniliquin in country NSW and back again.
If most of the driving is done in the city and suburbia, a figure below 15L/100km would be very difficult to achieve, and would mean a huge hit to the hip pocket every time you visit the bowser – especially considering the V8 drinks 95-octane unleaded.
Also when trying out some low-range driving, we found the Patrol’s low-end torque lacking compared to a diesel LandCruiser meaning low-speed crawling control is not quite as refined, however a little bit of right foot ensured it got up any obstacle in front of it.
At least range anxiety should not be a problem, as the Patrol features a huge 140-litre fuel tank.
We came away loving the driving characteristics of the Patrol’s V8 compared to a diesel, however we also got to hand back the keys at the end of the week and not deal with its prodigious thirst day-to-day.
While we would prefer the petrol V8 for a week of touring, the LandCruiser diesel is a much more palatable proposition for everyday ownership, especially in regional Australia where diesel rules supreme.
Nissan Australia has long been hoping that the 231kW/752Nm 5.0-litre Cummins turbo-diesel V8 found in the overseas-market Titan full-size pick-up would be transplanted into the Patrol and offered here, but after nearly six years on sale we are not holding our breath that it will ever become a reality.
Ride and handling
During our week with the Patrol we ate up approximately 600km of highway travelling from Melbourne to country NSW, and we can honestly say that for the money, there would be few cars we would rather have done such a long trip in.
The Patrol offers premium ride comfort, eating up the road like it is nothing and making short work of bumps, road imperfections and corrugated dirt roads alike while offering great road vision with its high seating position.
Driving on unsealed roads is also not a problem with full-time four-wheel drive, which offers extra peace of mind and greater grip.
Its ride comfort is no doubt helped by its independent suspension and large-profile tyres, measuring 265/70R18 from the factory.
In-cabin comfort is also bolstered by wide, well-cushioned leather seats and whisper-quiet NVH levels.
Overall, the Patrol makes for an excellent long-distance highway cruiser.
Handling is about what one would expect from a 2.7-tonne upper-large SUV – that being a car that feels like a behemoth to drive and is not a fan of corners.
The Patrol is tippy and top-heavy around bends, and does not enjoy going fast when it is not in a straight line.
One feature we are unsure about is the speed-sensitive power steering – at higher speeds it gives a good amount of feedback but around town it is extremely light and lifeless, and could definitely do with a bit more feeling.
On the one hand it helps to disguise the Patrol’s hefty kerb weight, but it is also a bit too indirect and vague for our tastes.
A brief trip off-road left us convinced that while the Patrol may not have the simplicity or scope for extensive modification that the Y61 had, it can still handle itself in any conditions.
It offers low-range gearing, hill-descent control and a traction-control system with a range of driving modes including sand, snow and mud. It also has a fully locking rear differential, a feature the LandCruiser 200 lacks.
For such a large car, we found the Patrol’s brakes worked impressively well, however on gravel roads its sheer heft means it still takes a long time to pull up.
Overall we give the Patrol a big tick for its ride quality. For the price, you would be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable car, and it is particularly well-suited to long distance trips and highway cruising.
We certainly feel for Nissan Australia when it comes to the Patrol. In a country that loves big, off-road SUVs, the company’s local arm has been given a capable and comfortable car that certainly rivals the hot-selling LandCruiser, but has been hamstrung with the non-availability of a diesel option.
If the 5.0-litre turbo-diesel V8 from the Titan were to be made available in the Patrol, we have no reason to believe its sales wouldn’t explode overnight, especially if it were priced around the same as the current petrol versions.
Similarly, we think a completely refreshed dashboard and multimedia system would give the interior a huge lift and massively increase the appeal of the Patrol.
Nevertheless, it is one of the most comfortable cars we have driven, and while impractical, the petrol V8 is a hoot to drive and an engine we thoroughly enjoyed driving for a week – although years of ownership and high fuel bills may blunt our enthusiasm.
If you aren’t scared of dropping $100-plus every time you visit the petrol station and love comfort and the sound of a big-bore V8 under the hood, the Patrol is the car for you.
Toyota LandCruiser VX petrol from $93,781 plus on-road costs
The penultimate VX grade of LandCruiser offers seating for seven, strong specification and the tricky KDSS swaybar disconnect system for off-roading. Its 4.6-litre petrol V8 outputs 227kW/439Nm, but if you’re like the majority of Australians, you’ll opt for the far more popular twin-turbo-diesel V8 in GXL ($88,671) or VX ($98,881) spec.
Land Rover Discovery TD6 SE AWD from $92,650 plus on-road costs
Land Rover’s fifth-generation Discovery continues to up the technology and luxury over its predecessor, and the 190kW/600Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 ensures there is no shortage of grunt for any situation.
Note: Overseas model pictured
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