The Nissan Patrol used to rule the roost in the 4x4 ranks in Australia along with its arch-rival, the Toyota Land Cruiser. But long gone are the days of the large SUV’s dominance, replaced instead with the rise and rise of the dual-cab ute.
The GU Patrol's been on sale for the best part of a decade and only comes in what feels like a positively prehistoric single V8 petrol-powered configuration. Does it still have any relevance today in the land of dual-cab utes?
If we’re being honest, everybody who climbed aboard the Patrol for our brief test period either stifled a giggle when they saw the wood grain interior and late 1990s-esque splash of buttons, or made a polite comment about how “retro seems to be all the rage these days”.
Take it as read… the interior of the Nissan Patrol, which was born in 2011, is definitely dating. Nissan's typical button spray across the centre console is in full effect, while the pretend walnut trim in our top spec Ti-L example doesn't do the car any favours at all. However, it’s certainly no worse than its similarly aged arch rival, the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series.
The exterior of the Patrol is very plain Jane, with decently short front and rear overhangs to aid the off-road ability of the Patrol. The large grille can be hidden by a bull-bar for off-road applications, but the lack of detail and sharpness in the design tend to give the Patrol a fairly frumpy visage.
Price and Specs
Our Patrol Y62 Ti-L test example retails at $88,990 before on-road costs, and it sits above the only other variant in the Patrol line-up, the $72,880 Ti. It’s a lot of car for the money, especially considering the Ti-L cost $113,000 when it launched here in 2013.
While a lot of that money goes into the more robust underpinning, proper 4x4 drivetrain and clever hydraulically assisted multilink suspension, the Patrol still does okay for standard spec.
Automatic lights and wipers, keyless entry and pushbutton start, 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with DVD, CD and hard drive (!), three-zone climate control, heated and vented front seats, front and rear sensors, 360-degree camera, cooled centre console bin and lots of USB and 12v charging points are all standard fare.
The Patrol Ti-L seats seven people (the Ti actually fits eight by dint of three seats in the third row), and ISOFIX baby seat mounts adorn the second row, and there is an additional tether point on the third row.
Our tester comes set up with a factory towbar kit for $1354, and its Brilliant Silver paint is a $595 uptick. This adds up to a $90,939 Patrol before on-road costs.
The aforementioned Toyota LandCruiser has long been the Riddler to the Patrol’s Batman, and the petrol-powered VX is probably closest in specs, despite its $94,890 (plus ORC) price tag. The GXL is $84,480. Everything else in the upper-large SUV category is priced well into six-figure territory.
At 5.16m long, 1.94m high and almost two metres wide, the Patrol is a big bird in every direction. This plays out inside the cabin, where the front seat passenger has to genuinely stretch to touch the driver across the massive central divide.
Second-row legroom and headroom could be better measured with a laser sighter such is its magnitude, and even third-row riders aren’t overly cramped.
If it’s stuff you want to carry, the Patrol can stash 550 litres of luggage – call it three sizable suitcases) even with the third row of seats in place. Drop them down and you’ll reveal 1490 litres of space. Want to carry a queen-sized mattress? We needed to and we did, thanks to the 3170-litre warehouse that reveals itself when the second row is dropped.
It’s also got a considerable payload capacity of 734kg, and it can tow 3500kg on top of THAT.
There are six airbags in the Patrol, including a pair of full-length curtain airbags. Despite its age, Nissan has managed to shoehorn in a brace of more modern driver aids, including rudimentary adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and AEB.
The 36-degree above-view camera helps with parking, while the clever rear view mirror – which can be used as a secondary reversing screen if the rear view is obscured – is complemented by sensors front and rear.
Despite all of the safety gear, the Patrol hasn’t been rated by safety body ANCAP.
Warranty and running costs
Nissan is finally offering a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on its cars, the Patrol included.
Service intervals are shorter than the average at 10,000km or 12 months, while there is a capped price service plan in place The first service costs $376, before rising to $577 for the second. The third falls to $392, before rising markedly to $860 for the four-year/40,000km service.
Fuel costs for the Nissan Patrol are, however, a big-ticket item. Its 140-litre tank will cost over $200 to fill most days, thanks to a need for 95-octane fuel as a minimum. Its combined fuel economy figure is quoted at 14.4 litres per 100km, and the best we saw over a long highway run was a dash-indicated 15.4L/100km. Use it off-road in low range 4x4 mode, and watch that figure double.
The Patrol is big. Actually, it's not big; it's enormous. It has ample room for you and six of your largest friends. It’s simply gargantuan width affords loads of shoulder room, while headroom is not even an issue.
The living quarters of the Patrol are opulent, too. Every touchpoint is covered in some sort of leather or soft fabric. The faux wood trim garnered a giggle from everyone who climbed aboard, yet the large comfortable seats with their backrest heaters, the large wheel and easy-to-read instruments make the Patrol an absolute doddle to drive, even in suburbia.
Despite the presence of old-school items like CD players, Nissan has managed to feed the Patrol a raft of updated technologies including fairly basic AEB and adaptive cruise control, as well as a plethora of charging points for devices.
However, it does miss out on items that are becoming commonplace like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which does detract from the experience. You can, of course, drown your sorrows in a cold drink from the chilled bin between the front seats while watching a DVD.
Second and third-row passengers are equally spoiled, with climate controls and plug-in points for middle-row passengers, while third-row passengers have access to vents and bottle holders.
The middle seats can also be tumbled forward, though this isn't a particularly useful mode, given the large gap that appears between second and third rows.
On the road
I may have called the V8 engine a throwback earlier on, but the high-tech 5.6-litre quad cam V8 is anything but. Making 298kW and 560Nm, it's a real reminder of the inherent advantages of a larger capacity V8 engine. It’s silken smooth, incredibly tractable and instantly responsive under-foot, and it’s a real delight to drive.
Handling-wise, too, the old Patrol still surprises. It's quite light on its feet for its mass and its girth, with excellent feel at the steering wheel, thanks to the old-school hydraulic system. Even braking modulation is spot-on thanks to four-piston calipers up front, while the comfort factor of the Patrol can't be overlooked.
Nissan has managed to imbue the Patrol with a bright and lively ride, despite the car's sheer size and 2700-off kilogram mass. This is partly due to the double-wishbone suspension front and rear, as well as to the Patrol’s so-called Hydraulic Body Motion Control system.
Put simply, this system sends extra fluid to the shocks that need it most almost instantly; when the body rolls to the left, for example, the left-side shocks are firmed up, supporting the body and calming the ride. And it works very well.
The system also works with the Patrol’s plethora of off-road modes, giving each corner more ability to shove a tyre deeper into the dirt for more traction.
The suppleness of that ride can go away a little bit when the speeds increase in a highway situation, but at suburban speeds, the Patrol is supremely comfortable, and possibly one of the most comfortable large SUVs of the large SUVs still on the market.
The V8 provides adequate propulsion, though its performance is ultimately blunted by the Patrol's mass. Equally, the robust seven-speed automatic gearbox, while good for the class, can feel a little bit jumpy and lumpy for those more used to smaller – and ultimately less durable - vehicles.
Of course, the Patrol is built fundamentally for off-road work. As such, it offers a full suite of technologies including four-wheel drive low, a multi-mode function dial that allows the Patrol to tackle rock, snow, and sand, a locking rear diff and hill descent mode.
The stock Bridgestone Dueler tyres are more highway spec than byway-ready, but that’s easy to change if you plan to spend more time in the rough. Besides, the Duelers also contribute to the Patrol’s serene interior silence even at highway speeds.
Built for the dirt-cheap petrol prices and long, hot highways of the Middle East, the Patrol really only lives on in Australia thanks to a long-lived and loyal fan base. While the V8 petrol-engined Patrol is smooth, quiet and supremely comfortable, it’s not ideally suited to long-range touring away from civilisation.
However, if you’re looking for a genuinely large wagon that can tow well, the Patrol – especially at its reduced price – is right on point.