Nissan’s Patrol wagon has been one of the stalwarts of the four-wheel drive scene in Australia. The 2005 Patrol wagon has some impressive new features, yet essentially remains the same - a no-fuss, quiet achiever that gets the job done.
The model that was tested was a 4.8 litre ST-L seven seater. While not quite top of range in the Patrol line up, the ST-L is still a well-appointed vehicle. Its features include air-conditioning that extends to rear seat passengers; power windows; aerial; door locks and a 12-volt power outlet in the rear cargo area to operate a fridge.
As I walked up to the 2005 Patrol, I noticed some striking new features. The headlight cluster has changed, the bumper bar is colour matched with the exterior of the vehicle, as are wheel arches. The external mirrors are much larger; there are different wheel trims, yet thankfully, the vehicle is a similar size to its predecessor. The Nissan comfortably seats 7 people without being a nightmare to park in confined areas.
Inside the car, the first thing I notice is a re-designed dash. The silver and gold colourings of the fascia and instruments are very easy on the eye and quite easily monitored thanks to the layout. The new dash also has space for a top of the range satellite navigation system and reversing camera. Driver and passenger front air bags are standard as well. Overall, the dash has a softer, more user-friendly feel and appearance than that of previous models.
The leather interior of the ST-L is very comfortable; the leather trim extends to the gear selector with its five-speed auto unit and tiptronic (manual shift, just flick the selector) function. Other features include ABS, rear seat back tables that can extend down and electrically operated seats.
So, the 2005 Patrol is certainly more stylish lady, but how does she go on, and off, the road? Well, because the suspension, running gear, drive train, chassis dynamics and even the brakes are carried through from the successful GU model of 2004, the revamped Patrol doesn’t depart from the standards already set.
The five-speed auto unit is still backed up by the two-speed transfer case with part-time 4WD. Ever wondered if there is an advantage in this system, that of having only two wheels driving for most of the time? The major advantage of only having two wheels driving for most of the time is that you will usually only wear out two tyres at a time. Live axles and a limited slip differential give the car power to the road in a most effective manner in the new wagon are, same as in the GU. The new style rims for the Dueller A/T rubber are also very eye-catching, though, in the new model.
On the road, the Patrol felt surprisingly nimble, much more so than its size would indicate. It powered away effortlessly in traffic, the free running 6-cylinder, 4.8L, fuel-injected petrol engine with its smooth auto unit making short work of anything asked of it. The big, in-line 6 was quiet, too, and unobtrusive in its power delivery. Overtaking on the Bruce Highway between Childers and Gin Gin needed only a quick touch of accelerator. When more power was required to nip around a semi that had been lagging on the hills, all it took was a flick of the gear selector to engage a lower gear for instant response. I found that highway cruising was made that bit better thanks to the easily activated, cruise control system.
Driving between Brisbane and Bundaberg in the new Patrol really was a pleasure. Fuel consumption on that trip was 70L for 460km, or 15L per 100km.
I had the opportunity to take the deep blue Patrol ST-L off-road while checking out some Ballandean cod water. While the river looked disappointingly low, the car made the trip an adventure anyway. It’s sad to report that the river has temporarily deserted us, but good to report the Patrol handled the washouts and gullies with ease. The ride was very smooth in the rough stuff thanks to the massive coil springs front and rear; body roll was always kept well in check by solid stabilizer bars.
The Patrol’s great axle articulation, always a strong point in the big Nissan off-roader, has not been altered in any way in their new model. In really rough conditions when you need a wheel to the ground, you can bet it will be there. In fact, a driver would need to throw an awful lot of caution to the wind to hang up a Patrol.
The large amount of load space in the rear cargo area is another big plus with these vehicles - with the rear seat folded down, the amount of space doubles. Although the two rear seats sit up in the cargo window area when not in use, it only takes about 10 minutes to remove them if desired.
Nissan’s new 2005 Patrol remains a no-fuss vehicle, on or off road. However, the ride and interior aesthetics are more refined than the previous models. There are no gimmicks that require a second or third reading of the manual to understand, just a big, strong and willing car that is a superb people mover around the city and a hard worker in the bush. That big 4.8L engine is just made for towing too, and owners of large power boats would love it!Reads: 1431