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Is the 2024 Nissan Patrol an overlooked 4WD? The Toyota LandCruiser rival might be big and bulky but here is why it's an ideal off-roader | Opinion

The Nissan Patrol is a large comfortable 4WD wagon – there’s no disputing that.

But is a big vehicle with a 5.6-litre petrol V8 engine practical at a time when the world seems to be rapidly heading towards an electrified future?

Or who really cares if it’s practical or not? It’s a V8, g-dammit! I’m about to tell you why you shouldn’t ignore this 4WD.

Why you should buy a Nissan Patrol

For the purpose of this yarn, I’ll be referring to the top-spec Patrol, the Ti-L.

The Ti-L has a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $97,600 (excluding on-road costs). Its main rival, the Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series GR Sport, has an MSRP of $142,101 (excluding on-road costs), so right there is a saving of more than $40,000.

As mentioned, the top-shelf Patrol has a 5.6-litre V8 petrol engine (producing 298kW at 5800rpm and 560Nm at 4000rpm), a seven-speed automatic transmission and it has seven seats. (The only other Patrol variant, the Ti, has eight seats.)

The big petrol V8 is great. There’s so much grunt on tap, making for a lively on-road drive, and all the while the rumble of that engine, especially under right-foot pressure, provides a welcome soundtrack to your day.

Throttle response is sharp as long as you’re enthusiastic with it, and the auto transmission is cluey. However, it can get caught out up hills, holding higher gears for too long, but otherwise it's okay.

Ride and handling are nicely controlled along dirt tracks, and the Patrol retains a confident on-track stance and it feels right at home 4WDing in the bush.

The Patrol’s suspension is mostly well sorted out. It’s quite firm actually.

It has independent suspension – double wishbones and coil springs at every corner – as well as the Patrol’s 'Hydraulic Body Motion Control' system, a network of hydraulic cylinders cross-linked between wheels, which works like a swaybar/swaybar disconnect.

It automatically tightens on road to keep the Patrol more controlled on firmer surfaces, such as blacktop, and then it ‘relaxes’, allowing for more flex in the suspension when you’re 4WDing.

And when you get properly engaged in low-speed, low-range off-roading that's when this large Nissan finds its happy place.

The Patrol Ti-L has a full-time 4WD system, selectable off-road driving modes ('Sand', 'Snow', 'Rock'), and a rear diff lock.

Ground clearance is 271mm, and approach, departure and rampover angles are 28 degrees, 26.3 degrees and 24.4 degrees, respectively.

The Patrol has an upright cabin, which offers plenty of visibility, but the expansive bonnet impacts the driver’s vision at the front, especially when driving over, for example, a steep crest into a dry creek bed.

As always, when faced with such a situation it’s best to get out of the vehicle and actually take a look.

It has high- and low-range 4WD and, while it doesn't have the low-down torque of something like the 300 Series, it has plenty of grunt when it counts.

There’s ample torque for smooth-momentum, low-speed 4WDing and the big petrol V8 keeps things ticking along without any stress.

It has plenty of wheel travel, helped somewhat by its aforementioned swaybar-disconnect system, and that articulation helps it stretch a tyre to the dirt for crucial traction.

Off-road driver-assist tech (hill descent control, hill start assist etc) is non-intrusive and effective.

The Patrol’s around-view monitor with moving-object detection is a handy addition, because it gives the driver a better idea of what the terrain looks like around the vehicle, via four cameras, especially of areas you may not be able to see clearly, or at all, from the driver’s seat.

This system disengages at 8.0km/h, but up to that speed you’re able to switch between a few perspectives (front, 360 bird’s eye view, and rear).

Nissan has carefully taken all the rough edges off the Patrol in the last decade.

Don’t rely only on this system, though. Look around at the real world, get out of the vehicle and walk the track, rather than concentrating on the screen. That way you’ll see more in terms of obstacles, potential hazards etc.

Wading depth is listed as 700mm and, while I haven’t got close to testing that limit, I’ve driven through plenty of mudholes that were a bit deeper than expected.

No doubt about it, the Patrol is right at home when 4x4ing.

It has a 140-litre fuel tank and listed fuel consumption of 14.4L/100km on a combined cycle.

This is a much-respected touring and towing platform. I've tow-tested with Patrol variants over the years, so worthwhile noting the towing capacities which are 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked).

Why you shouldn’t buy a Nissan Patrol

The interior is feeling very old, especially when considered against most of its rivals.

The Patrol does not have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which, in this day and age, is peculiar and disappointing. It does, however, have a CD player.

This is a big vehicle and it doesn't feel as nimble as some other large SUV wagons do.

If you aren’t used to steering a big SUV around, driving the Patrol can feel like you’re trying to manoeuvre a mini-bus but that’s a sensation you can quickly overcome with careful, considered driving.

It looks quite low when driving over challenging terrain and it feels that way when you’re driving it.

As mentioned earlier, ground clearance is 273mm (compared to the 300 Series' 235mm) and approach, departure and rampover angles (28, 26.3, and 24.4 degrees) are par for the course for a large 4WD wagon.

But that feeling of being vulnerable to underbelly scrapes and knocks lingers on.

So, those measurements are par for the course for a large 4WD wagon, but that feeling of being vulnerable to underbelly scrapes and knocks lingers on.

The Patrol’s tyres – Bridgestone Dueler 693II all-terrains (265/70R18) – are perfectly reasonable on-road, but aren't that well-suited to hardcore 4x4ing and their off-road weakness were exposed through sloppy mud, and other surfaces of compromised traction.

But, as always with less-than-ideal off-roading rubber, simply replace the standard tyres with a set of decent, more aggressive all-terrains and you've instantly made your Patrol an even better 4WD than it already is as standard.

(Image: Glen Sullivan).

Many people are put off by the idea that the Patrol apparently guzzles petrol, well…

Official fuel consumption is 14.4L/100km on a combined cycle.

On my most recent test in a Ti-L the driver-info dash display was showing 19.2L/100km, but I recorded actual fuel consumption, pump to pump, of 22.9L/100km. That’s not an insignificant figure, but, in the Patrol’s defence, I did do a lot of low-range 4WDing.

The Patrol has a 140-litre fuel tank, so going by that on-test fuel-consumption figure you could reasonably expect a driving range of about 560km on a full tank, and that’s factoring in a safe-distance buffer of 50km.

It has no ANCAP safety rating because it has not been tested. Safety gear includes AEB, front and side-impact airbags for driver and front passenger and curtain airbags for all three rows, a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring.

(Image: Glen Sullivan).

What I reckon

Who would have thought that a V8 4WD would have a place in our modern EV-obsessed world? But, you know what, the Patrol makes a lot of sense, and the more I drive it, the more I like it.

It’s a great all rounder. Comfortable on-road and very capable off-road, and even though it’s not as up-to-date tech-wise as some of its rivals, it has refinement and driveability in its favour.

And as a tow vehicle it has few serious rivals in the realm of large 4WD wagons.

The standard features list is decent, that V8 engine is unreal and the Patrol has proven itself to be such a solid tourer that you’d be forgiven for ignoring its petrol thirst and simply enjoying the driving experience.

Marcus Craft
Contributing Journalist
Raised by dingoes and, later, nuns, Marcus (aka ‘Crafty’) had his first taste of adventure as a cheeky toddler on family 4WD trips to secret fishing spots near Bundaberg, Queensland....
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