4 February 2011

Nissan Patrol 2004 car review

Although still based on the brawny underpinnings of previous the Patrol, Nissan have made subtle changes to the new model.

Although still based on the brawny underpinnings of previous the Patrol, Nissan have made subtle changes to the new model.

A chrome grille surround and restyled three-dimensional headlamps, present the frontal styling of Nissan 4WD models. Solid, five-spoke alloy wheels add to the masculine, purposeful appearance.

The interior too has received a complete makeover with top quality materials, reshaped seats, new dash assembly and more equipment.

Our test vehicle was the 3.0 litre turbo diesel model, which has improved power output, up from 116kw to 118kw. Maximum torque output of 354Nm is achieved at a low 2000rpm, which gives strong lugging ability anywhere from around 1200rpm.

Driving at 100kph on the open road, the engine is spinning at 2300rpm, which provides excellent flexibility for easy driving.

Don't expect lightening performance when pulling away from standstill, as this heavy 2.3 tonne lump takes a bit to get moving, but once rolling, the Patrol ambles along with little effort.

The four-speed, automatic transmission keeps the engine working in its best performance range, although in slow traffic or winding road conditions, it is advisable to make use of the 'overdrive off' button. It is also recommended to operate the Patrol with overdrive off when towing, as continual load lugging in overdrive can lead to overheating and transmission failure. Our fuel economy returns averaging 12.3lt/100km are what would be expected from a vehicle of this size and weight.

The main fuel tank carries 95 litres of diesel with a 30 litres sub-tank in reserve, which should enable a distance of around 1200 kilometres to be travelled between fills.

The design and bulk of the Patrol does not lend itself to handling ability, especially over winding road sections. When travelling over undulating, winding or unknown roads, it is advisable to keep cornering speed down for controllable turn in, and reduce body roll.

Tyres and suspension settings do a good job of absorbing pothole and road shocks, which in turn give a reasonably comfortable ride for the occupants. The strong chassis and wheel articulation is more designed to handle the roughest off road conditions.

The Patrol is not the easiest vehicle to manoeuvre in tight spaces. With over 12 meters of turning circle, and 3.6 turns of the steering wheel lock to lock, a considerable amount of wheel winding is necessary in confined areas.

Anti lock brakes are standard fit, to assist safe braking in an emergency. As expected, the Patrol has grunty towing ability of 750kg for an un-braked trailer, and 2500kg when braked, for the ST-L and 3500kg braked for the Ti petrol version.

The leather covered front seats provide armchair comfort, with adjustments being by electric motors, with switches on the outer side of the seat squab but they seem a bit over the top for such a commercial grade chassis.

The steering wheel is adjustable for height, as are the front safety belt top pillar mounts for driver comfort. Aluminium backing and surround for the protruding centre console, houses dual air vents at the top, stereo CD player, and air conditioning, heating and ventilation controls.

Recessed under the base of the console are switches for rear fan control, reserve fuel tank transfer, power outlet and antenna, which are all difficult to interpret and operate.

Centre seating positions provide good comfort, with ample head, leg and shoulder room. Fold down armrests are fitted for the two outer positions, and lifts up trays are affixed to the rear of the front seats.

With all seats occupied, rear carrying space is limited, however, the rear seats can be folded up against the sides, and the centre seats split fold 50/50 against the front seats. This yields a carrying area of around 1500 litres; however, rear width is reduced by the two, folded rear seats protruding 15cm from the side walls. Tie hooks are fitted to secure loose carried loads.

Rear doors are hinged at each side, and open third/two thirds, with a high 780mm lift to the flat floor. A full size spare wheel is mounted on the larger door, and is quite heavy and difficult to remove.

Storage cubbies are limited to map pockets at the rear of the front seats, a dual level, lidded box between the front seats, moulded pockets in the front doors, and a lidded box at the top of the centre console.

The ST-L Patrol comes with reasonable level of specification for a vehicle of this type, with remote central locking including engine immobiliser, leather trim including steering wheel and gearshift lever, electric adjust front seats, air conditioning with rear ducts and controls, electric window operation with auto down/up for the driver glass, electric adjust exterior mirrors, and stereo with single in-dash CD player. Safety features include driver and front passenger air bags, lap/diagonal safety belts for all six outer seating positions, and anti-lock brake system.

There is only a lap belt in the centre rear, we don't advise using this to secure a person unless absolutely necessary.

Ti versions gain wood grain finish interior, electric sunroof, cruise control, 6-disc CD player, compass and outside temperature gauge's, and side air bags.

A large number of options are available to upgrade the Patrol for many applications, with front bull bars, tow bars, roof rails and racks, snorkel kits, driving lamps, spare wheel covers, soft and hard, and tailored carpet or rubber floor mats.

The Nissan Patrol is a vehicle made for heavy work. Contractors and rural operators will benefit from the vehicles strengths and off-road capabilities Patrol most, it's not an easy or friendly vehicle to drive around city or urban streets and it's not a good fit in that environment. That said, it's a surprisingly comfortable cruiser on the open road, with the capability to transport the family and a hefty trailer easily.

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