Nissan’s big family wagon offers premium travel. 

Story Bruce McMahon 

Nissan’s Patrol first arrived in Australia back in 1960. It was a utilitarian and short wheelbase 4WD. Almost six decades later, the sixth-generation Patrol is a large, long wheelbase wagon with premium touches that were once only in the realm of luxury sedans.

The current Patrol – there are no short wheelbase or utility models today – is a petrol V8-powered, seven or eight-seat wagon, which remains an alternative to Toyota’s line-up of 200 Series LandCruisers. 

Some baulk at the lack of a diesel engine option in the big Nissan, yet under many conditions differences in fuel consumption and fuel costs between the Patrol’s 5.6L petrol engine and a 4.5L V8 Toyota diesel may be marginal. The 5m long Patrol is also heavier and larger – inside and out – than a LandCruiser. The lack of a diesel, and no ute version, highlights Nissan’s focus on the Middle Eastern market, where this current Patrol wagon rules 4WD sales.

The Patrol is a large, comfortable and effortless cruiser most appreciated in wide, open country, helped along by 298kW of V8 power and 560Nm of torque delivered through a slick seven-speed automatic transmission, two-speed transfer case and a smart all-wheel drive system. 

Fuel consumption – with some town work, a quick highway run and some dirt tracking – came in at 15L/100km, not far off the factory’s claimed 14.4L/100km. That could be bettered on a long distance run, though would climb higher with a stretch of slow and serious off-roading. A 140L tank means a decent fuel range for the Nissan on a country cruise.

The Patrol, despite its big and boxy body, touched up with chrome trim and its class interior fittings, remains an off-roader of some ability. It is aided here by a swag of electronic systems, selected with a rotary dial on the centre console, which changes engine and transmission responses to suit surface conditions – from dry bitumen to a mire. 

Down the highway or a back road, the Nissan sits with fair composure for such a big vehicle with full frame chassis below. There is movement below over rougher roads, though this never unsettles occupants, thanks in large part to its hydraulic suspension system. It is a quiet ride for the most while; that smooth V8 sounds great under full throttle and is always a boon when overtaking.

The Patrol is best on an open road (or the sands of the Sahara) under all manner of surface and weather conditions. Almost 2m wide, it demands some care and attention in tight spots, whether down a bush track or in the depths of a shopping centre car park. Clever 360-degree cameras and sensors relieve some angst there.

In tighter spots, the speed-sensitive steering has a welcoming light touch, while at suburban speeds there appears to be a tad too much assistance. This steering, and a hefty 2700-plus kilograms, precludes throwing the wagon into tight mountain turns (though steering feel is far better at highway speeds).

So, best to appreciate the Patrol as a grand touring wagon for Australia. Drivers sit high and handsome with good vision to the front and sides, plus those sensors and camera views for parking. Ahead of the driver is a welter of buttons and switches, a bit old-hat, scattered across the dashboard and centre console. There is though all today’s mod cons, from mobile phone hook-ups to satellite navigation and, in the top model Ti-L, an electronically controlled steering column for reach and telescopic adjustments.

The emergency, or park, brake is a foot-operated affair, an old-fashioned American feature in these days of electric park brakes.

This Ti-L model runs the same mechanicals as the cheaper Ti version but gains a number of extra driver aids, such as lane-departure warnings, active cruise control and blind spot monitors. The Ti-L is listed as a seven-seater, the Ti as an eight seater (with three spots rather than two in the third row) while both models offer full-sized space across the cabin; second row passengers, in particular, are treated to excellent room – plus two DVD players in the Ti-L.

Today’s Nissan Patrol is more an all-roads cruiser than an out-and-out, bare bones 4WD. It is a big and comfortable wagon at a good price, still very competent in the rough, though perhaps more at home on a long-distance trek. And while it runs with a great engine and drive train, that lack of a diesel option may hurt in some showrooms. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #128

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2020