BUYERS GUIDE
NISSAN PATROL
Specification changes could make this wagon a winner

The old 'square-rigged' Patrol is finished Down Under, leaving Nissan with the under-marketed Y62 petrol V8 model. The specification was wrong from the start and changes are still needed.

Nissan Patrol wagon

The  new-generation Y62 Patrol arrived in February 2013, but it was petrol-only and was very expensive: from $82,200 plus on road costs for ST-L, $92,850 plus on road costs for Ti and $113,900 plus on road costs for Ti-L.

The Y62 Patrol had a 5.6-litre petrol V8 engine, a seven-speed automatic transmission and a new All-Mode 4x4 system.

The new generation V8 engine delivered 298kW of power and 560Nm of torque, with 90 percent of torque available from just 1600rpm. Claimed fuel consumption was 14.5 litres per 100km and the engine configuration demanded minimum 95 octane fuel.

That engine spec' was wrong for this market, yet Nissan had an option. The engine chosen for the Australian-market Y62 was the VK56VD version that needed 95-98 octane fuel that you just can't buy in the bush. There is another version, called the VK56DE, that can use 91 octane petrol and has about 20-percent less power and torque.

We've done two tow tests, firstly using a 2.2-tonnes caravan with 220kg of ball weight. As expected, the independently-sprung rear end sagged, yet Nissan rates the Y62 towbar for up to 350kg of ball weight and insists that owners not use weight distribution bars. We can't imagine how a Y62 with a non-distributed 350kg ball weight would look, handle and drive. 

We thought Nissan's hydraulically-linked suspension option might enhance weight distribution, but the Hydraulic Body Motion Control System cleverly linked across-axle suspension units to control body sway in corners, but didn’t transfer forces fore and aft.

The Patrol V8 is a bulky beast: our test models were both Ti vehicles, with a claimed tare weight of 2.7 tonnes and a gross mass rating of 3.45 tonnes – leaving only 745kg for people, freight, 140 litres of fuel and ball weight. Four-up, with a full tank, some luggage and the van’s ball weight, the Patrol was right up on its legal gross mass.

A plus for this bulk is that 1.9-metre width spaces the mirrors wide enough for reasonable towing vision, but extensions would be needed for full-width vans. The Y62 has a rear vision camera as standard, so coupling up was a simple operation.

We slid into the leather seats and found that power adjustment of the front pair provided great comfort that didn’t fade during a long driving day. However, we can’t help wondering why the Japanese have taken such pains to eradicate the wonderful ‘leather smell’ you get in European vehicles.

Fit and finish was excellent, but interior styling was a tad too 'wood-grainy' for our taste. Ergonomics were fine and Bluetooth pairing was easy, with the vehicle at rest. The central display screen was clear and the navigation and information system quite comprehensive.

The Y62’s 5.6-litre V8 has a claimed 560Nm at 4000rpm, with around 90-percent of that torque available from 1600rpm. We don’t doubt this boast, because the Patrol was happy to doddle along at under 2000rpm through traffic when towing and had no trouble keeping up with solo vehicles.

The seven-speed box was state of the art and gave seamless shifts in stop-start conditions. On freeways, at legal speeds, it was happy to sit in overdrive 6th, rather than double-overdrive 7th.

On steep climbs the shifts remained seamless, but as the box dropped to third and revs rose above 3500rpm, mechanical noise intruded. The engine didn’t sound like it was about to blow up, but the contrast between whisper-quiet progress through undulating country and the noise on climbs was quite noticeable.

Maybe Nissan should have hired an Italian exhaust system maker, to include some V8 burble throughout the engine’s entire operating range and reduce the noise contrast. 

Engine braking was acceptable for a petrol auto, but revs needed to be around 4000rpm for best effect and at this speed engine noise intruded somewhat.

We didn’t deliberately drive for economy, but we did operate the vehicle in the manner we think an owner would treat such a potentially fuel-guzzling machine. Throughout the test drive we monitored fuel consumption that went off the scale when the engine was working hard, but averaged out at 23 litres/100km. That’s pretty good for a V8 petrol engine, operating in hilly terrain at legal maximum speeds wherever possible.

Ride quality was generally very good, despite a tail-down attitude caused by the van’s nose weight. A lower ball weight would have improved ride quality over lumpy surfaces that caused pitching and rear-end bottoming. The ideal net ball weight for the Patrol Y62 is around 100-140kg.

Handling was flat and predictable on bitumen and dirt surfaces, seemingly unaffected by the limited amount of rear suspension travel, so the cross-linked suspension units were doing their job well.

Our next tow test was with a 1.2-tonnes camper trailer that had 80kg ball weight and the V8 hardly knew it was pulling anything. Economy was also very good, averaging 15.5L/100km.

Most tow vehicles are expected to do the daily grind in addition to leisure trips and we reckon the Patrol Y62 would make a useful, if somewhat thirsty, around-town commuter.

However, as an eight-seat people mover it’s compromised by third-row seats that are strictly for short distances and don’t fold flat, reducing practicality of the cargo area. Even with the second-row seats folded the Y62 can’t manage a flat floor and Nissan has had seven years of production during which the flat-floor issue hasn't been addressed. Stupid.

We showed our test vehicles to several potential buyers and none would accept the sloping floor layout. They said they'd buy a 200 Series LandCruiser in preference.

The all-independent-suspension competition includes high-performance V6 turbo-diesels – Land Rover Discovery, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mercedes-Benz ML – that have better towing economy and load-levelling air suspension, albeit with well known reliability issues. These vehicles also have trailer sway control, as does the 200 Series. 

As a solo vehicle the Y62 Patrol was quite off-road capable, having a low range, first-gear ratio around 44:1, traction control and supple suspension. However, ground clearance when loaded was marginal for rocky trail work. 

The terrain program worked well off road, providing easy selection of operating mode and rear diff lock operation.

A much-needed revision of the Y62 equipment levels and pricing happened in 2015. The Patrol V8 was available in only Ti and Ti-L grades, meaning that many optional features were available as standard. The ST-L grade was discontinued.

The RRP for the Ti dropped to a much more reasonable $69,990 and the Ti-L was re-priced at $86,990.

Inclusions featured as standard on the Patrol V8 included Off-Road Monitor, which provided information on steer angle, tyre slip and tyre pressure as well as a compass, and Traffic Monitoring System, which provided real-time traffic updates integrated into the navigation system, to help avoid delays.

Features that were available as standard included: Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) suspension system; leather-accented seats; satellite navigation; Around View Monitor and a t yre pressure monitoring system.

The lack of a diesel that seemed such a liability in 2013 didn't seem so burdensome in 2017, given the increasing level of dissatisfaction with modern turbo-diesels and their attendant fuel filtration and emissions equipment issues, but the Patrol Y62 was not considered by many wagon buyers.

Even with the 2015 upgrades and revised pricing the Nissan Patrol Y62 V8 petrol has a hard row to hoe, given the competition it faces; most notably from Toyota’s turbo-diesel V8 200 Series. The Toyota has a more towing-suitable live rear axle that can be easily fitted with upgraded coils or auxiliary air springs. 

We reckon if Nissan fitted a 91-octane-rated engine and fixed the ridiculous cargo floor issue the market acceptance would accelerate dramatically.


The old diesel model soldiered on

Just as Nissan did with the D22/D40 Navara ute lineup the company marketed the Y62 petrol Patrol alongside the old diesel model until late 2016.

The diesel Patrol isn’t exactly the 4WD market’s leading light in terms of primary or secondary safety. For a start it’s a part-time-4WD machine, which means that it’s rear-wheel-drive only in most on-road conditions. Some experienced 4WD operators know how to operate the part-time-4WD system on slippery roads without risking mechanical damage, but most drivers don’t.

Potholed dirt roads don’t faze the Patrol, which soaks up big holes and ruts in grand style. It’s the same story in true off-road situations where the combination of good ground clearance, excellent wheel travel and a powerful limited-slip rear differential work optimally to keep the Patrol moving in situations where only the rugged make progress.

Economy from the Patrol’s old engine lineup isn’t good. The three-litre diesel won’t give better than around 13-15L/100km in mixed city and highway driving, but the old in-line six 4.8-litre petrol was worse still, with typical consumption around 18-20L/100km.

In 2013, the diesel Patrol was well past its use-by date. The basic ergonomics of its old body shell couln’t compete with competitor designs, or even with its own Pathfinder and the longer Nissan allowed the Patrol to lag behind its competitors the more difficult it was to catch up.

All this could have changed if Nissan slotted the Renault three-litre V6 diesel from the Pathfinder/Navara models into the Patrol’s ample engine bay - 550Nm was just what the aged Patrol needed to get it back into the pack. However, all that's history and by 2017 the traditional Patrol will be no more.

The last 300 vehicles were produced in November 2016, for Australian buyers. The special Legend edition model was available in White Diamond, Polar White and Platinum, and came fitted with around 10 grand's worth of acessories: heavy-duty steel bull bar (airbag compatible); electric winch; tow bar; satellite navigation; rear-view camera; roof rack; snorkel; soft cover for the spare wheel and a c ustom decal

Drive-away pricing, with five-speed manual transmission were $57,990 and, with four-speed automatic transmission,$60,990.



 

Previous ModelsNissan Patrol wagon

When the GU model was launched in late 1997 it was the best the then cash-strapped company could do. The new bodywork was a re-skin, mounted on substantially the same chassis and running gear as the GQ’s.

When you consider that the 1988 GQ was itself a 1980 MQ with a coil-spring chassis and flared mudguards – even the windscreens were interchangeable – it’s obvious that the Patrol’s development has been severely underfunded over the past 30 years.

Another cost-conscious example was the introduction of a five-speed ‘tiptronic’ style auto with the 4.8-litre engine in 2001 – the box came from the company’s Z-cars and meant that the petrol Patrol lost its advantageous transmission-mounted handbrake.

The Patrol was upgraded in 2005 to its present appearance with exterior panel and trim changes, fatter rubber and a restyled interior.

The only significant mechanical change was a slight increase in power for the ZD30 three-litre diesel and a torque boost for the same engine when coupled to a manual transmission. Nissan Australia’s market research indicated that Patrol buyers wanted the vehicle’s traditional ruggedness preserved, but would be happy to see improved comfort and a better quality interior layout. Hence the 2005 upgrade.

The styling changes aped the LandCruiser’s flared wheel arch shapes and adoption of the chromed ‘4WD family’ grille made the Patrol resemble a Navara front-on. The interior scored the greatest change, with an entirely new dashboard and instrument cluster. The seats were repadded and there was a new range of upholstery.

ABS braking, surely the greatest primary safety feature in a heavy towing vehicle, wasn’t available on the DX base model. However, Nissan  raised the secondary safety bar a tad with a standard driver’s side and passenger airbags.

The only mechanical upgrade for 2005 was a 3kW lift in power for the ZD30 three-litre, turbo-intercooled diesel. ZD30 engines bolted to five-speed mechanical transmissions had maximum torque of 380 Nm - a lift over the previous 354 Nm peak – but those engines with auto boxes were limited to the previous peak.

The fender flares housed fatter 275/65R17s on all STs and above.

For 2007, the revised Patrol wagon line-up included the five-seat DX and seven-seat ST, ST-L and Ti turbo diesel variants and, in petrol form, seven-seat ST, ST-L and Ti models. ABS anti-lock braking was standard on all but the base DX turbo diesel model.

The ST was previously only available with turbo-diesel power, but was included in the 4.8-litre petrol-engine line-up after a rationalisation that saw discontinuation of the ST-S version previously offered in both diesel and petrol ranges.

The ZD30 3.0-litre turbo diesel gained a common-rail fuel injection system, but without much-needed improvements in output and torque. This engine has had many in-service problems, from fuel pumps to turbo failures and we’d like to see some reassuring facts from Nissan’s engineering team about reliability concerns.

This three-litre needs to rev to achieve performance and is better in front of an auto than a manual box, because low-speed torque is poor when compared with other turbo-diesels.

Our Patrol testing showed that the dynamics of the post-2007 Patrol were little changed from previous GUs. In fact the fatter rubber, if anything, made it more skittish on gravel ‘marbles’.

We can’t say we noticed any great improvement from the seating updates and the previous ergonomics hadn’t changed.

The Patrol scored its five-speed automatic box from Nissan’s luxury car lineup some years back and while it was state-of-the-art then that’s no longer the case. Our test vehicle suffered from an average two-second delay when the driver called for ‘kickdown’ and the shifts were jerky.

On lumpy bitumen the post-2007 Patrol bump steered at both ends, as it’s always done, but was predictable. Ride quality was still firm and handling wais flat at normal 4WD driving speeds. Upping the velocity around tight corners had the big Patrol understeering in protest, but that’s not what it’s meant to do. Where the Patrol shines is on long hauls and when the bitumen ends.

If you can find a late-model, factory turbo-intercooled 4.2-litre Patrol it’s a better bush vehicle than a younger three-litre.


Bush Modifications

Patrol coils sag easily, so a taller, stronger set is required, along with matching shock absorbers. Being a part-time 4WD wagon the Patrol can benefit from a rear-axle self-locker, ideally matched by a driver controlled front locking diff.

 






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