A big petrol V8 engine, luxury trim and enormous off road capability. Sounds like a Range Rover, but in this test we review Nissan’s off road flagship, the mighty and venerable Patrol. But if you want one with a V8 we reckon you shouldn’t delay it too long lest the big bent eight be swallowed up in the feast of more environmentally friendly power plants of the future.
Back in the day Nissan’s Patrol was a much closer rival for Toyota’s LandCruiser, before the latter became a rockstar, commanding higher pricing and dominating the market.
Nissan Patrols had a formidable reputation in the bush, generally, but then Nissan sort of got out of the top end of the 4WD market with workhorse machines in the middle of the last decade discontinuing its GU models leaving only the luxury top end Y62 which had lobbed a couple of years earlier in 2014.
The Y62 came only with a petrol 5.6 litre V8 , no diesel and that flew in the face of a lot of the common thinking at the time that screamed diesel, diesel, diesel.
While that seemed like a poor piece of positioning it actually has not been as big a disadvantage for Nissan as some may have imagined. While Toyota’s V8 diesel LandCruiser has shedloads of fans and buyers, it drinks like an unreformed alcoholic and with diesel prices way higher than petrol, some Patrol Y62 owners have been smiling when they pull up to the pumps, while LandCruiser owners have been contemplating second mortgages.
The big Nissan petrol V8, which was also the engine it used for its now discontinued Australian Supercar racing program, is low revving, relaxed and understressed. When you drive this V8 easily and without too much right foot, it can be surprisingly economical. But when you do bury the welly, boy does this machine gather up its skirts and sprint down the road, but when you do the fuel gauge drops like a rock.
Climb aboard the Nissan Patrol and slide behind the wheel and you are surrounded by luxury fittings, albeit with a touch of finest Japanese chintz, with shiny woodgrain laminate around the central part of the dash. You sit atop big, cushy seats and there are a bunch of dials and switches that have first time Patrol steerers struggling to know what they all do. But once you become more familiar the plethora of controls and what they do becomes more obvious.
However there is no escaping the fact that this old cowboy is ageing rapidly and its replacement Y63 Patrol, due in 2024 is a little overdue. Underlining this is a touch screen that is a throwback to another era , with no Apple CarPlay or Android auto and a clunky interface that was. Fine back in 2014 but in 2023 it is antiquated at best and frustrating at worst.
For all of that Nissan is selling every Patrol it can get its hands on and could probably sell twice as many if it could get them, because for all of its foibles, it is a lovely thing to drive, with that big burble V8 smoothly delivering wondrous power and torque through a six speed automatic that is also a little aged, but still works fine.
There are two Patrol models, the vehicle we are testing here, the Ti which is the entry level model staring at $82,160, while the better equipped Ti-L starts at $95,115 before on-road costs. That doesn’t make the Patrol a bargain basement value pack, when you measure them up against their LandCrusier rivals they still represent good value in the upper end of the large 4WD segment.
Interestingly we reckon the Patrol feels a little like Range Rovers of the past, before that British marque became out of reach luxury machines that are so expensive few dare take them off road.
The Patrol is a big machine with lots of room, and it should be roomy, given it tops the tape measure out at 5.2 metres in length.
Given the Patrol’s size, it is also a very comfortable beast, effortlessly transporting a troop of six or seven adults in a calm and quiet, fuss free environment. There are few other vehicles that you would want to tackle a long drive through the Australian bush in.
The seats are like big luxury lounge chairs, with fantastic vision from all around the cabin, although from this driver’s point of view we would love to have more driver’s seat adjustment to allow you to not feel like you are over the top of the steering wheel, but that has a bit to do with the ageing design as much as anything and in our view it is not a deal breaker.
There is heaps of storage all around the Patrol cabin with a massive centre console, a cluster of cup holders, nooks and holders for sunglasses, and deep door pockets that can hold all manner of things. It’s the same in the back seats with plenty of cupholders and storage.
The third row of seats has a remarkable amount of room, far more than most vehicles with fold up back row seating. In fact the patrol can sit three across the very rear bench, meaning it has a realistic capacity for eight occupants, while still providing a reasonable amount of space behind that for luggage. Of course the third row can be folded up to provide even more freight space, while still providing comfortable conveyance for five adults.
I know I said that the Patrol Ti was excellent value for what you get, and it is but I keep being drawn back to the fact that it doesn’t have smart phone connectivity, which I just can’t fathom in any vehicle costing over $80,000. It’s crazy but should be resolved along with a bigger infotainment screen in the new model whenever that arrives. Currently the centre screen is an 8 inch unit which seems ridiculously small, particularly if you’ve been in Ford’s new Everest which has a screen that feel more like an 80 inch LED TV compared with the Patrol’s pocket handkerchief.
There are plenty of 12-volt outlets around the cab along with a pair of USB ports, and another 12-volt outlet in the centre console.
The suite of safety technology on the Patrol is good, boasting Autonomous Emergency Braking (but without no pedestrian or cyclist detection). There are front and side airbags for driver and passenger, and curtain airbags in all three rows, which is excellent, while there is a rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring.
When you fire up that 5.6 litre bent eight you get all of its effortless 298kW of power and 560Nm of torque. There is no argument that, even given current environmental concerns aside, this is a terrific power plant that will fire the big Patrol down the road at a a rather brisk pace, whether around town, on the highway, in the gravel or even if towing.
We holed up our rally car on the car trailer and the Patrol performed as if nothing was there, taking the task in its stride. It is an engine that it very definitely fit for purpose.
As well as the comfort of the interior, the ride comfort of the Patrol is supreme and the handling is pretty good as well. Sure in really tight going in inner city streets or narrow tracks the Patrol can be a challenge, its turning circle of 12.5 metres is a clear impediment in city conditions. But in the bush it ambles over anything the road can throw at it and for a long trip few vehicles could match the patrol, particularly for the price.
There’s one thing you can’t manoeuvre around, and that is its mass. The Patrol tips the scales at 2.71 tonnes and the physics of that means it takes a lot of energy to move it down the road or to change direction and stop it. But it is still effortless and handles all of this without too much fuss. It will also tow 3.5tonnes which makes it ideal for those adventuring int ‘Caravanistan’ or towing the big runabout.
What you also can’t escape with a vehicle of this size is the fuel required to deliver that motive force. Nissan quotes a claimed average fuel consumption of 14.4 litres per 100 km and we recorded an average of 15.9litres per 100km. As we mentioned before, bury the right foot and you can blow that figure out to around 20 litres per 100 or more. But it is easy to stroke the Patrol V8 along with a comfortable and easy gate that will deliver reasonable economy that won’t require a second mortgage to finance. At cruise on the highway we saw averages of around 10 litres per 100km which is pretty reasonable all things considered.
The Nissan Patrol Ti might be showing its age but there is something truly endearing and likeable about this La Stupenda of the large 4WD wagon class. It sits there in a shrinking market and might well be one of the Last of the Mohecans when it comes to big petrol V8 wagons. It’s still attracting enough sales interest for Nissan to keep them coming. Its replacement will probably use a turbo V6 like its rival Toyota LandCruiser. If you desire a big, luxurious, comfortable, ageing opera diva of the automotive realm, then hurry you might never get another chance to own a vehicle like the V8 Patrol Ti.