Toyota Kluger VS Nissan Patrol
- Quiet and refined
- GX is well-specified
- GXL and Grande are pricey for not much benefit
- Deeply ordinary entertainment system
- Effortless performance
- Superb ride
- Great value
- Steering feel (lack of)
- No AEB
Like the statues of Easter Island, the Toyota Kluger casts a huge shadow over the Australian motoring landscape. It's a strong seller for Toyota, having been around for ages and is one of three large SUVs in Toyota's armory next to the evergreen Prado and disappointing Fortuner.
Competition, of course, is growing ever more fierce. Hyundai is about to drop a new Santa Fe, the Kia Sorento gets better every year and more manufacturers are joining the party. Most notably, Mazda's CX-9 is also loaded with safety gear and a potent 2.5-litre turbo engine.
The intensity of the battle became apparent in my esteemed colleague Matt Campbell's recent comparison test where the Kluger came last behind the Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-9, thanks largely to Toyota's reluctance to fit the same advanced safety features.
They heard Matt (that's what he reckons, anyway) and recently added some important safety tech to the 2018 Kluger. Let's have a look to see if it's enough.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Everyone has a guilty pleasure. A sneaky drive-thru burger, Katy Perry on your iPod, or watching The Golden Girls while dressed as SpongeBob. Okay, so maybe not everyone has that last one.
The urban tank that's currently dominating your screen is mine. It occupies enough real estate to support a medium-density sub-division, weighs a sprightly 2.7 tonnes, and is powered by a 5.6-litre V8 that slurps premium unleaded at an ecologically obscene rate.
But it’s soooooo good.
The eight-seat Y62 Nissan Patrol Ti is so clearly built for the ‘Murican market (where it’s called the Armada) it’s a safe bet the human hairpiece has one in the presidential fleet.
A week behind the wheel should have had us sneering, but all we could do was smile.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The 2018 Kluger is still a very solid car, with tons of room for you and your things. And your family and their things. It remains way out in front (although the new Santa Fe is lurking menacingly) and the boost in safety gear will help ensure it stays there.
The pick of the range is still the GX which is now a much stronger proposition with the extra safety features. There's little of real interest in the higher models, you can't get better headlights (a curious state of affairs) or a better stereo, so it's difficult to understand the appeal.
The Kluger will serve you and your family well in a solid and unspectacular way. Given most of us like that in our cars, it's easy to see why it's a hit.
Does the Kluger's new safety focus do enough to lure you away from the competition? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The Nissan Patrol Ti is stress-relief on wheels, designed to help you navigate urban family life in quiet and calm comfort. It’s not perfect, using up a reasonable chunk of the planet’s resources in its construction, consuming more than its fair share of precious gasoline, and assaulting many people’s view of what constitutes good automotive taste. But next time you’re sobbing through a YouTube compilation of military homecoming videos, consider the Patrol. Maybe it’s time to set that guilty pleasure free?
Is this Patrol too big and beefy, or right-sized for your family needs? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The Kluger is handsome in a squared-off, what-are-you-looking-at kind of way. That big bluff front-end makes the car look rather bigger than it is, which is quite an achievement because it's pushing two metres wide and 1.73m tall. It's not the longest in its class, though, coming in at 4.89m.
Despite it hailing from the US, it's not too blinged-up, but neither is it CX-9 pretty. Some might find the grille reminiscent of a krill-hoovering whale or Bane from Batman, but it's certainly distinctive.
The cabin is like the exterior - nothing flash, but what you see is what you get. Materials are mostly pretty good and it leans towards thoughtful and practical rather than sexy. Normally I'd say, "just like me", but I'm none of these things.
The interior dimensions of the big bruiser match its eclipse-causing exterior. No matter your size - well, within reason - you'll find plenty of space in the first or second rows. The third row features decent space for kids and very patient adults for short trips.
Roy and HG dubbed rugby league legend (and political enigma) Glenn Lazarus ‘The brick with eyes’, and it’s not a bad take on the current Patrol’s mammoth presence.
At more than 5.1-metres long, just under two-metres wide, and close to two-metres tall, this is a substantial beast. You’ve never seen 18-inch rims look so small.
Subtle bulges around the wheel arches and along the bonnet go some way to softening the large regions of only subtly contoured sheet metal. The front and rear bumpers are neatly integrated into the flow of the body, and the flashy, three-part chrome grille boldly announces the big Nissan’s arrival.
The profile is bread-box geometric, with more bright metal finish on the window surrounds, door handles, front guard vents and proudly positioned V8 badges. At the back, the Patrol’s upright stance is clear, with more chrome above the licence plate, and oddly intricate LED tail-lights that look like aftermarket specials from Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district.
Vast expanses of high-quality leather cover the faces of the classy and oh-so-comfortable seats, while a mix of gentle curves and arrow-straight borders define the dash and centre console.
But then it’s as if ‘he of the tiny digits’ choppered in and demanded custom touches, like yet more chrome around the console, instruments and key controls, as well as broad bands of high-gloss timber you’d swear was fake, but Nissan says is in fact “high-grade wood” trim.
But aesthetics is always a subjective call, and from a functional point of view the interior layout works beautifully. The switchgear is clean and simple, the multimedia interface is straightforward and intuitive and the ergonomics are thoughtful and considered.
That said, niggles include a steering wheel that just won’t come up high enough (or a driver’s seat that won’t adjust low enough), the lack of a digital speedo read-out, multiple blanked-out switches at the base of the centre stack (not a good look), and an awkward, US-style pedal-operated parking brake. Curse you, middle America.
The big question people ask me about the Kluger is "How many seats are in there?" - every Kluger packs seven seats, with two flip-up seats in the boot. Boot space dimensions are obviously dictated by whether they're up or down. With the seats down, you've got a decent 529 litres, leaving you with good luggage capacity and a cargo cover to keep it all hidden away. Lift the seats with the straps and you've got just 195 litres, about the same as a small hatchback.
Put the second and third rows down and Toyota says you'll have 1117 litres, but I reckon that's conservative.
The cabin is well-planned for families. Every row features cupholders - front and middle rows have a pair each, while those banished to the third row score two each, a total of eight across the car.
Back in the front row, the tectonic split in the dashboard is lined with a soft rubbery material, making it a great place to sling phones, keys and odds and ends. Between the seats is a massive 24-litre storage bin that a small grandparent could ride in. On second thoughts, that's probably not a great idea.
Space is something this vehicle has in abundance, and with a wheelbase of close to 3.1 metres, passengers are well taken care of. Actually, five out of eight passengers. But it’s likely the third-row seat will be a kid-zone anyway, and if they’re not old enough to vote, they’re not old enough to complain.
The fortunate pair up front will luxuriate in broad but supportive chairs, with heaps of storage on offer, including a giant central console box (with a nifty two-way lid that provides access for rear seaters), a pair of large cupholders, a generous glove box, and big door pockets with space for bottles. There’s also a drop-down sunglass holder in the roof, a 12-volt outlet, as well as USB and auxiliary line-in media sockets.
Second-row accommodation is probably best measured in hectares, but suffice it to say there’s plenty of room. With the driver’s seat set to this 183cm-tester’s position, head and legroom is limo-like, and there’s even enough width for three grown-ups.
Roof-mounted air-con vents are controlled by a digital panel in the back of the front centre console, there are specific reading lights, big bottle bins in the doors, and a pair of small-ish cupholders in the folding centre armrest.
Yes, third-row legroom is tight for adults, but access is easy thanks to a simple fold-and-roll function on both sides of the centre-row seat. Once back there, the kids have no less than four bottle/cupholders at their disposal, as well as air vents in the roof. And the third row can slide through 20mm for more legroom or storage space.
Even with the third-row seats upright there’s 550 litres of cargo space available. Enough to hold the CarsGuide pram (on its side), or our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres). Plus there’s a full-width stowage box under the floor. For reference, a full-size Holden Commodore sedan’s boot holds 495 litres.
In this configuration, there are still six cargo tie-down shackles available, with a light and 12-volt outlet also provided. There’s also a full-size (alloy) spare wheel.
Fold the third-row forward, and capacity increases to 1490 litres, which is enough to swallow the pram and luggage set, with room to spare.
Flatten both the rear rows and it’s like looking down the belly of a C-130 Hercules, with no less than 3170 litres of load space liberated. And if weight is a factor, you have a 734kg capacity to play with.
Worth noting the cargo floor, with seats folded, isn’t flat, the ramp angle increasing the closer you get to the front seats, and weirdly, there’s no electronic control for the tailgate. You need the top-spec Ti-L version for that.
Price and features
There are three models in the Kluger range and how much you pay will vary depending on your thirst for standard features. Our price list features RRP prices and are a guide only - your dealer might be convinced to reduce the cost.
The GX opens with the lowest price - $44,500 for the 2WD and $48,500 for the 4WD. Specs include six-speaker stereo, 18-inch alloys wheels (no 17-inch alloy wheels anymore), front and rear air conditioning, Bluetooth, forward and reverse camera, active cruise control, rear parking sensors, remote central locking, auto headlights, power windows and mirrors and a full-size spare wheel.
The GXL adds an lazy 10 grand in comparison to the GX - $54,950 (2WD) and $58,950 (AWD). The GXL adds a GPS navigation system, DAB digital radio, rear-cross traffic alert, keyless entry and start, partial leather seats, and electric tailgate with separate glass hatch.
The Grande - again, for a further 10 grand plus, is available for $65,646 (2WD) or $69,617 (AWD). You'll get the same satellite navigation as the GXL, 19-inch rims, electric sunroof, rear-seat entertainment system with 9.0-inch screen and Blu-Ray and heated and ventilated front seats.
The entertainment system is powered by a 6.1-inch touch screen in the GX and 8.0-inch in the other models, which also include satellite navigation. The software package is distinctly 2006, painfully so in the GX. The system includes AM/FM radio, CD player and USB. There's no DVD option, however.
Colours include 'Crystal Pearl' (white), silver, 'Rustic Brown' (looks better than it sounds), 'Predawn Grey', 'Rainforest Green', 'Merlot Red' (dahling), 'Deep Red', 'Cosmos Blue' and 'Eclipse Black'. All but the black are $550 extras, which is not modest but not extortionate either.
Toyota's accessories list is well-stocked, with items like nudge bar (which is remarkably well integrated), side steps, cargo barrier, roof racks (no roof rails, though) and various plastic shields, driving lights, floor mats, towbar, parking aids and blind spot monitor.
You're out of luck if you want a Toyota-branded seat belt extender or bull bar.
For comparison, the cheapest CX-9 is $700 less (than the GX), but with a higher spec level, while the fully-loaded Azami is also around $800 cheaper (than the Grande) but - again - better-equipped.
The Korean rivals, while older and slightly smaller, are significant cheaper - the Kia Sorento is priced from $42,990 to $46,990 while the Santa Fe starts at $40,990 and finishes at $57,090 (albeit not a petrol V6). All these cars are well-equipped, with more modern features and tech.
When it launched here in early 2013, the Y62 Patrol Ti was priced at $92,850, with an entry-level ST-L ($82,200) below, and the flagship Ti-L ($113,900) above it.
This positioning kicked the evergreen four-wheel drive into new territory, given the most expensive version of the previous (Y61) model weighed in at $72,690.
And sure enough, by mid-2015 the market had spoken, and Nissan Australia ‘repositioned’ the range, culling the base ST-L and lopping a massive $23,400 off the Ti’s price, adding some extra fruit to its specification at the same time.
That $69,990 pricing remains in place, substantially undercutting the V8 petrol-powered Toyota LandCruiser VX, which sits at $94,070. But the Toyota steamroller continues to flatten the Patrol in terms of sales.
When you look at the Patrol Ti’s standard features list, though, you have to marvel at the power of the LandCruiser brand, because this Nissan is loaded.
Included on the Ti spec sheet is, keyless entry and start, ‘leather accented’ trim, eight-way power front seats (including height and lumbar adjust), tri-zone climate-control air con (with rear control), cruise control, sat nav with 3D mapping, ‘leather accented’ steering wheel and shift lever, 8.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen, ‘Around View Monitor’ (with reversing camera), six-speaker CD/DVD audio with 9.0GB hard drive and Bluetooth connectivity, glass tilt and slide sunroof, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, side steps, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Not bad at all, but it’s worth noting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are missing in action.
Engine & trans
Across the range, Kluger buyers are treated to the same engine specifications - a 3.5-litre V6 petrol. The big unit devlops 218kW/350Nm to help move the two-tonner.
As to whether the V6 features a timing belt or chain, it's the latter. The engine uses standard (OW-30) oil and 0-100km/h acceleration times are around nine seconds.
Towing capacity is the same for each model, coming in at 700kg for unbraked trailers and 2000kg braked. We haven't yet carried out a towing review.
Nissan’s all-alloy, 32-valve, quad-cam VK-series V8 engine started life 15 years ago, debuting in the third-generation Infiniti Q45 (which never saw the light of day in Australia).
It's since gone on to power a range of other Infiniti and Nissan models, and in this most recent 5.6-litre (VK56VD) iteration, develops 298kW at 5800rpm, and a thumping 560Nm at 4000rpm.
The big V8 features ‘VVEL’ (Variable Valve Event and Lift) technology (on the intake side) as well as direct injection. And in case you think the torque peak arrives high in the rev range, 90 per cent of that maximum (504Nm) is available from just 1600rpm.
It’s matched with a seven-speed automatic transmission featuring sequential manual mode (available via the console shifter only) and ‘Adaptive Shift Control’ logic.
Drive can be directed to the rear wheels or all four (in high- or low-range) via Nissan’s ‘All Mode 4x4’ system, offering specific off-highway settings for sand, snow, and rock, as well as a rear diff-lock.
For its engine size and overall weight, fuel economy is always going to be marginal and continues to be the Kluger's weak spot. For the front-wheel drive, Toyota claims 9.lL/100km on the combined cycle. The heavier 4x4 version recorded an official combined fuel consumption figure of 9.5L/100km.
These mileage figures would be a stretch - in a week of gentle suburban running around in a GX AWD, we copped a figure of 13.7L/100km.
The fuel tank capacity is a handy 72 litres, meaning a decent run between fills, especially when you're out on the open road.
Obviously, without a diesel engine, there are no diesel fuel consumption figures.
Nissan claims 14.5L/100km for the combined (urban/extra urban) cycle, and doesn’t even venture into the area of stated CO2 emissions.
Without any injudicious use of the right-hand pedal, over roughly 250km of city, suburban and freeway running we managed to exceed that figure by close to 15 per cent, recording an average of 16.5L/100km.
The other not so good news is the V8 turns up its nose at anything less than premium unleaded, so if you live in a capital city, get ready to shell out around $210 dollars to fill the 140-litre tank with 95RON juice.
You never really forget that the Kluger is a big unit. Ground clearance is a not-inconsiderable 200mm and the turning circle a fairly lazy 11.8 metres. People don't seem to mind that it feels big, and is one of the few in the segment that I feel like I'm climbing up into with my 183cm (six-foot) frame rather than stepping in.
From behind the wheel you can practically see the curvature of the Earth you sit so high. Fire up the near-silent V6 and you're struck by how incredibly smooth it is. Also smooth is the ride - the long travel suspension is probably exactly the same as it is for our American cousins vs, say, Hyundai's habit of setting up its cars for Australia.
Everything is soft and squidgy but in a reassuring way, even the warning beeps aren't too shrill or irritating. The steering is light and with the occasional moment of vagueness but again, it's all very predictable. The brakes, though a bit spongy at the top of the pedal, are more than up to the task of washing off speed in the unlikely event you've overcooked things.
The engine continues unchanged. There's enough horsepower to get you going and hold a decent clip, it will keep you out of trouble and do what Toyotas generally do - look after you. Performance is hardly the key point of the Kluger - it weighs in at a fairly unapologetic 2005kg in AWD form - but, as I say, there's ample power to keep you moving.
We're yet to perform an exhaustive off-road review, but our experience is that the Kluger has reasonable off road ability.
Driving the Patrol Ti is like eating a freshly baked marshmallow – soft, sweet, and delightfully indulgent.
It’s an effortless, stress-free experience, thanks mainly to the engine’s huge reserves of torque, and the independent (double wishbone front and rear) suspension’s magical ability to soak up even significant imperfections.
You have to consciously remind yourself this is an old school, body-on-frame design. But the magic bit that transforms the Patrol’s ride and handling, is Nissan’s ‘Hydraulic Body Motion Control’ suspension tech.
The system is managed by nitrogen-charged accumulators, with cross-linked piping allowing the transfer of hydraulic fluid between shock absorbers to actively control suspension travel.
In cornering, stiffness is increased to reduce body roll and, in straight running, overall ride quality is enhanced… a lot.
The seven-speed auto is ridiculously smooth, the seats remained comfy and supportive after lengthy stints behind the wheel, and the interior is supremely quiet.
And with all that heft barrelling down the road, big disc brakes (358mm front/350mm rear) with four-piston calipers at the front, consistently pull this sturdy unit up without a hint of drama.
But with the soft sweetness comes a hard truth. The light ‘speed-sensitive’ steering twirls through roughly 5000 turns lock-to-lock, and produces approximately zero road feel.
Nissan makes no bones about the fact the Patrol is aimed at city types, with its 4WD ability mostly applied to towing. And the Ti is able to haul 750 unbraked kilos, with a healthy 3.5-tonnes in scope if your boat trailer or caravan is braked.
Another standard feature that comes in doubly handy when manoeuvring a substantial vehicle like this is the ‘Around View Monitor’, combining bird’s eye, front, rear, and side views. It’s brilliant, and panel beaters should hate it.
While this isn’t an off-road test, if you do decide to take the tribe on a Top-End adventure, standard ‘Hill Descent Control’, ‘Hill Start Assist’, rear diff-lock, helical LSD, and the All Mode system are ready for action.
For the hardcore off-roaders, ground clearance is 283mm, approach angle is 34.1 degrees and the departure angle is 25.9 degrees.
The Kluger arrives from the US with seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls and rear parking sensors.
The 2018 Kluger is really about the battery of new safety features in the lower models. Added to the GX and GXL are pre-collision warning, forward AEB, lane departure warning, active cruise and auto high beam. GXLs also pick up a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert. As you can imagine, the Grande has the lot.
There are three top-tether anchors for the middle row as well as two ISOFIX points.
As before, the ANCAP safety rating stands at a maximum five stars, awarded in November 2016.
Standard active safety tech includes, stability and traction control, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, ‘Cross-Traffic Recognition’, and a tyre pressure monitoring system. But no AEB.
If you want higher order features like, ‘Blind Spot Warning’, ‘Blind Spot Intervention’, ‘Distance Control Assist’, ‘Forward Collision Warning’ and ‘Intelligent Cruise Control’, they’re standard on the ($86,990) VTi-L.
On the passive side of the ledger, there’s driver and front passenger head and side airbags, as well as side curtain airbags covering all three rows.
ISOFIX child restraint anchor points and top tethers are included in the outer second row seat positions, with another tether hook in the third row.
The Patrol has not received a safety star rating from ANCAP or EuroNCAP.
Toyota's three year/100,000km warranty also comes with a fixed price servicing plan. It seems the Japanese company can get away with the short warranty because of the long-held reputation for reliability and few problems or faults.
I've certainly never heard complaints from Kluger owners, or Toyota owners generally for that matter. Having said that, Hyundai and Kia both smack Toyota out of the park for warranty length and in Hyundai's case, lifetime fixed price servicing.
Service costs are fixed via Toyota's 'Service Advantage' pricing. For the Kluger you'll pay $180 per service for the first 36 months or 60,000km. You'll have to visit the dealer every six months or 10,000km for the stamp in your owners manual, which is always good for resale value.
Few owners report any genuine issues, such as engine problems or tranmission problems.
Nissan supports the Patrol with a three year/100,000km warranty, with three years roadside assistance included.
Sure, Nissan has a well-deserved reputation for reliability, but with the likes of Kia upping the game to seven years/unlimited kilometres, surely it’s time for a warranty adjustment.
The scheduled service interval is six months or 10,000km, which is a pain when most of the market is at 12 months.
A six year/120,000km ‘Service Certainty’ program locks in pricing for those 12 services, with a low cost of $375, and a high of $1240 (100,000km), which equates to an average of $608 per visit. You’ll also need to factor in $42 for brake fluid every two years/40,000km.