The best SUV for dad: Land Cruiser, Pajero, Patrol, Q7 or RX 350?

Help our letter sender decide
by Botchi Santos | Jun 17, 2011

Hi, Botchi!
First, let me commend you for your column. It's very informative and I enjoy reading it very much.
My dad is looking to buy a new sport-utility vehicle.  We're having quite a hard time choosing between the Nissan Patrol Super Safari, the Mitsubishi Pajero, and the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and LC200. What are the pros and cons of each? The Nissan Patrol is the most affordable among the four choices but we heard that it has some reliability issues specially with the radiator. Is this true?

Thank you, and more power to you and to your column.

Hi, Wins!

Thank you very much for your email. It's great to hear that you're buying a big, bad and burly SUV! I've always wanted one more as a towing vehicle for my track car rather than as a primary means of transport, but I'm sure if I had one, I'd use it fairly often as well.  

I've yet to drive the Nissan Patrol Super Safari and I personally don't like it. It looks really big, bulky and cumbersome. The interior is also rather disappointing. May I suggest you look at the Nissan Patrol Royale? That's actually an Inifinity QX56 so it is very well made, albeit very expensive and does not have a diesel option to my knowledge.

I love the LC200 Toyota Land Cruiser. Despite its size, it feels great to drive (as huge SUVs and trucks go), it is loaded with features, solid both on- and off-road, and has the sheer presence to make smaller, lesser cars move out of its way on the road. I feel it to be the best large full-size SUV worth owning. Inside, it is packed full of super luxurious options such as DVD players and multiple monitors and a multi-zone climate control system. The list goes on and on, depending on whether you buy local or grey-market.

I am also deeply much in love with the Mitsubishi Pajero. It's decently capable off-road, especially on high-speed dirt roads--much like a rally stage, which is really Mitsubishi's off-road forte. This is also as reliable as death and taxes, much like the Land Cruiser. It is smaller, but also quicker around corners and in real-world driving conditions. Just don't go chasing down a Land Cruiser on the highway as the LC200 will easily pass 200kph on a long stretch of road while the Pajero will have a harder time reaching 200kph, let alone go past it. But it will comfortably cruise at 180kph all day on the highway, believe me! Rumor has it that Mitsubishi is releasing a very revamped BK body Pajero, which is still the current one but fortified with a new 3.2 liter CRDi engine equipped with VGT that makes well over 200hp (rumors have it at 220hp to 230hp) plus a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. That is definitely worth looking forward to.

The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, unfortunately, is one SUV I have yet to fully relish and enjoy. It's highly refined and quite fast. The latest local Prados have the highly advanced off-road assistance SUV software, allowing them to crawl, climb and go down a steep hill all with a touch of a button. Not exactly off-roading for purists, but hey, one's gotta do what one's gotta do. Riding inside out on the highway is very comfortable, too--in the back seat at that. It seems to be a popular choice for young, up-and-coming executives, rich-boy types and a good number of soccer moms so it must be quite easy and effortless to try out. Definitely worth looking into, if you can find one for sale.

Why not check out the Lexus RX350 as well? This is one very smooth SUV, very fast as well and very, very comfortable. Admittedly more for moms, as in the US, almost all RX350 and RX450h hybrid buyers are females and mothers.

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The Audi Q7 is very impressive, and the Q7's rather awkward looks are made to be very bold and aggressive with the Sportline kit that replaces the front and rear bumpers with very large and sporty air dams straight out of the Q7 V12 TDI variant, and enormous 20-inch wheels with ultra high summer performance tires. The 3.0 TDI in the Q7 has almost as much torque as the Twin Turbo CRDi D4-D V8 Land Cruiser.

Hope this helps you and your dad make a decision soon. Good luck and God bless!
Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

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