Car Reviews

Review: 2023 Nissan Terra VL 4x4

Nissan Terra VL 4x4 review
PHOTO: Anton Andres

Patrol. Super Safari. Terrano. These are some of the iconic SUVs to bear the Nissan badge. If anything, the company has a solid reputation for building some of the most robust and capable 4x4s out there. If you need more proof of that, just take a look at the UN’s fleet. Various NGOs practically trust Patrols and Navaras with its personnel’s lives.

That brings us neatly to the Terra. It’s been a solid seller for Nissan since it was launched in 2018, and it received a major overhaul in 2021. But we’re also here to tell you that the Terra is one SUV you should seriously consider if you need four-wheel drive. We’ll explain later on.


Nissan Terra VL 4x4 rear

It’s a familiar sight on the road these days, but it’s still a handsome-looking thing after all these years. We didn’t really think the Terra needed a styling update, but the sculpted and chiseled lines of this one shaved a few years off this SUV’s age. We see a few cues from the Patrol at the front, and we think it suits the Terra just right. Other styling tweaks to the Terra include new fenders and wheel design, rear bumper, taillights, and the tailgate. All in all, the Terra looks bang up to date when parked next to its newer competitors, namely the Isuzu MU-X and Ford Everest.


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Nissan Terra VL 4x4 review interior

Nissan has made huge strides in the interior department. The Terra’s interior is no longer an ocean of hard plastics, giving the cabin a richer, more premium feel compared to the older model. It was a much-needed update, too, given how far the segment has come over the years. Nissan took the extra effort of redesigning the entire dashboard to a point you might think you’re in an all-new model.

The soft-touch padding on the dashboard is a great addition to the Terra’s interior. It’s even wrapped in dark red faux leather to break the monotony of an all-gray cabin. Mind you, the plusher interior is reserved for the VL 4x2 and the VL 4x4. If you go for the base VE variant, you get a single-color interior with gray plastic everywhere.

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Nissan Terra VL 4x4 review cargo space

But enough about the design. How’s the space inside? The best way we can describe it is ‘class competitive.’ There’s certainly more room compared to the Montero Sport and Fortuner, but it’s a little behind next to the all-new MU-X and Everest. Nonetheless, it’s more than enough for most needs and the high-mounted second-row seats make the cabin feel more spacious. And speaking of the second row, you can fold those with a push of a button from the front seats aside from fiddling around with the levers at the back.

As for the third row, it’s a bit of a no-man’s land. Sure, there’s enough legroom for children and, um, vertically challenged adults, but the seat mounting is too low. It practically forces everyone to do a trip in the fetal position. At least Nissan makes up for it by having a cargo area that’s long and wide.


Engine performance

Nissan Terra VL 4x4 review engine

Powering the Nissan Terra VL 4x4 is the same 2.5-liter turbodiesel that’s used in the 4x2 models. It’s good for 187hp and 450Nm of torque, so it’s just right for its segment. That engine shifts with a seven-speed automatic, just like before. Power delivery is linear with a hint of lag on initial takeoff, much like most turbodiesel SUVs. On a rolling start, there’s less turbo lag felt and the transmission won’t hesitate to go down a few gears. You won’t have any problems passing slower traffic with the Terra at all.

Nissan Terra VL 4x4 review performance

As for economy, the added weight of the four-wheel drive system does come with a penalty. In heavy traffic (average of 15kph), fuel efficiency dropped to 7.3km/L but rises to 8.1km/L (18kph average) when traffic frees up a little. The seventh-gear does wonders for highway fuel consumption, though. With minimal traffic and an average pace of 96kph, the Terra 4x4 can happily do 14.0km/L. Mind you, the 4x2 can do 0.5 to 1km/L better than the 4x4.

While not totally related to performance, it must be said that the new Terra made leaps and bounds in noise, vibration, and harshness suppression. The pre-facelift version was loud inside, and the vibrations were felt not just through the steering wheel, but even pedals. The new Terra is far quieter and refined inside with a lot less shaking, rattling, and clattering. This may be a ‘minor model change,’ but the new Terra is light years ahead of the pre-update version.

Ride and handling

Nissan Terra VL 4x4


These pickup-based SUVs aren’t exactly renowned for on-road handling prowess, and the Terra is no exception. This SUV pitches and rolls through the bends if driven spiritedly, but that doesn’t mean it’s sketchy to drive. Roadholding is actually pretty good for something softly sprung, and it doesn’t give you the feeling of tipping over, either.

At reasonable speeds, the Terra feels safe and secure with no nasty surprises that takes away confidence. But the bigger surprise here is the steering feel. For something that doesn’t have electronic power steering assist (it still uses hydraulic assist), the wheel is lighter than one would expect.

Nissan Terra VL 4x4 review

As mentioned, the Terra is softly sprung, making it one of the more comfortable truck-based SUVs in its segment. The damping is excellent and the rear does a great job of resisting side-to-side motions. On the road, the ride is supple with no unnecessary body movement. We’ll make a bold claim and say the Terra is nearly as comfortable as the Ford Everest on pavement.

We’re thankful for the Terra’s suspension tuning when we took it off-road. The long travel suspension made short work of axle twisters, soft sand, and rocky trails. We also like the fact that it has a rear differential lock that gave us extra traction on loose and sandy climbs. There’s no doubt about the Terra’s off-roading abilities. It’s just a shame that most owners don’t take theirs on a trail once in a while.

Extra features

Nissan Terra VL 4x4 review

The VL 4x4 is the range-topping variant of the Terra. But aside from the four-wheel-drive system, the equipment list is pretty much the same as the 4x2. That means you also get latest version of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility active safety package. Included in the suite are lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, a 360-degree view camera, rear cross traffic alert, and autonomous emergency braking.


Inside, the new infotainment screen is a nine-inch unit that comes with Apple CarPlay (with wireless compatibility) and Android Auto. Sound is then channeled through an eight-speaker Bose sound system that’s exclusive to the 4x4 version. And for those who plan to do long road trips with the family, you’ll be glad to know that the Terra comes with a rear entertainment package.

Given its features, you wouldn’t call the Terra bare at all. However, we wish it had telescopic steering adjustment and adaptive cruise control. A speed limiter would be a nice addition, too.


Nissan Terra VL 4x4 review rear

If you’re in the market for a 4x4, the Nissan Terra deserves every bit of your attention. Granted, the third-row accommodations aren’t great, it can be a little heavy on fuel, and on-road dynamics aren’t quite on par with the newer models out there. However, if you look at the whole package, the Terra has a lot to offer, not just in terms of features but also in its abilities. The best part is, it’s one of the more ‘affordable’ truck-based four-wheel drives out there.

At P2,354,000, the Terra VL 4x4 is the least expensive among all its peers. Yes, you read that right. The four-wheel drive Terra undercuts the Mitsubishi Montero Sport GT 4WD (P2,366,000), the Ford Everest Titanium + 4x4 (P2,495,000), and the Toyota Fortuner LTD 4x4 (2,555,000). When it comes to value, the Terra 4x4 is hard to beat, plus you get an SUV that’s more spacious than some of its rivals, good off-road ability, and ride comfort that’s one of the segment’s best.

Frankly, you’d better have a bizarre reason for not considering the Terra for your next SUV. The Terra ain’t perfect, but for the price, it’s close to it.

Specs: Nissan Terra VL 4x4

Price: P2,354,000
Engine: 2.5-liter turbodiesel I4
Power: 187hp @3,600rpm
Torque: 4,500Nm @ 2,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Layout: Part-time 4WD
Seating: 7
Score: 19/20

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PHOTO: Anton Andres
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