I distinctly remember the great Japanese SUV wars of the ’90s. At the time, flooding was rampant, Mount Pinatubo had just erupted, and the Toyota Tamaraw FX was king in the middle-class segment.
In the premium category, it was a crazy four-way battle between the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Nissan Patrol (then, Safari), the Isuzu Trooper, and the Mitsubishi Pajero. All were diesel-powered, extremely reliable, and off-road-capable family trucks that endlessly shuttled Filipinos to and from family vacations.
Over the years, the balance of power shifted from these expensive land barges to midsize SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner and the Mitsubishi Montero Sport. With sales dwindling, the old guard was slowly replaced by these more affordable offerings.
Today, with the Pajero on its last legs and Isuzu MIA in this segment, the undisputed king of the luxury hill is the Toyota Land Cruiser LC200. The LC is a turbodiesel-powered behemoth and is the favorite of your friendly neighborhood politician.
Then there’s this one—the best of the rest, the Nissan Patrol Royale. Having made the jump to pure petrol power a few years back, it has never regained its footing, and a 2020 sighting on our roads is almost as rare as a congressman not using a ‘wang-wang.’ But that doesn’t mean that you should count it out just yet. We had the Patrol for one weekend, and here are some reasons you should consider the Nissan over the Toyota:
1) It stands out in a sea of Land Cruisers.
The LC200 is a sales monster. Toyota Motor Philippines has famously never had a demo unit for the Land Cruiser because its sales are so consistently high, there is simply no need to market it through media test drives. Wait for the SONA or drop by Bonifacio Global City on a Sunday, and you will see a plethora of Land Cruisers crowding the roads like the kings they are. You know what you won’t see? A Patrol.
In our time with the Nissan, it constantly turned heads with its bold design. Love it or hate it, this SUV has a unique curvy side profile that belies its size. It looks just different enough to be special, and among all the relatively tame and serious-looking Land Cruisers, it stands out with its whimsical design—and that, for some, is enough to consider this Nissan.
2) It’s a much more affordable choice than the Toyota.
Thanks to the JPEPA agreement, the Patrol received a massive price drop. This full-specification unit retails for P3,988,000, while the Land Cruiser’s bare-bones variant costs P4,569,000, reaching a peak of P4,935,000 for the full-spec version. That’s price difference between the range-toppers is worth a Vios.
This massive difference is amplified when you realize the Patrol is even cheaper than the diesel Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, a much smaller SUV. That fact makes the former a steal in our eyes.
3) It’s got a strong history of performance and reliability.
While the Land Cruiser definitely has an illustrious history, what people tend to forget is that the Nissan Patrol is no slouch when it comes to having made a name for itself over the years. The Patrol was the first vehicle to cross the Simpson Desert in the Australian outback.
Much more impressively, it has had success in the then-grueling 13,000km Paris-Dakar Rally. Back in 1987, it won in the Diesel Class and became the first-ever diesel vehicle to manage a top-10 finish, securing ninth overall.
4) The cabin exudes old-school luxury.
Again, the full-spec Patrol is cheaper than the bare-bones Land Cruiser. What does ‘full specification’ mean? It means this Nissan has features like air-conditioned seats that take the legendary Nissan reputation for cold A/C to a whole new level. It means that there are screens built into the rear headrests for the kids, and it means there’s a Bose premium audio system. Full specification indeed.
The problem with old-school luxury is that there are certain dated features in the infotainment system. For instance, Nissan still touts ‘iPod Connectivity’ as a feature, even if the iPod Classic was discontinued by Apple in 2014, with the Nano and the Shuffle likewise being discontinued in 2017.
5) Petrol power!
The first thing that strikes you when you step on the gas in this massive SUV is the immediacy of the power delivery. Throttle response is amazing from low revs—instant thrust in a way that only a gas engine can provide. Specifically, the Patrol is equipped with a huge 5.6-liter V8 mated to a seven-speed gearbox. It boasts an impressive 400hp, which utterly dwarfs the 232hp on tap in the Land Cruiser.
While the V8 isn’t the most efficient mill, it definitely has the grunt to move this barge of an SUV without seeming to break a sweat. Add to this the inherent cleanliness of a gas engine, and you would be remiss in ignoring the Patrol’s strengths.
To be honest, it’s not all just positives, though—there are a few areas where the Patrol falls short of the LC. Here are two off the top of our heads:
1) Petrol power.
While the Patrol has a much higher horsepower rating, for large SUVs like this, torque is more important. The Patrol may have a decent 560Nm on tap, but the Land Cruiser, being a diesel V8, has a much more appealing 615Nm. This results in less revving and more straightforward pulling power. Some say it’s also more efficient, but we were not able to test the Toyota for this.
To many Filipino buyers, a diesel is always a more appealing buy, and for this reason, the Land Cruiser is hard to beat.
2) The third row is a pain.
While the LC has a third row that is often criticized for folding up instead of folding flat, thereby sacrificing some trunk room, the Patrol is no better. Yes, the rearmost seats do fold flat (which would have been a plus point, truth be told), but the mechanism is quite cumbersome to operate. There is no electric system; instead, you get an old-school pull tab that you need to operate while leaning into the car from the middle row.
Thankfully, your efforts are rewarded with a much wider cargo area than in the LC, but whenever you will need to stick someone in the third row, you will curse the mechanism as you struggle with half your body sticking out from the passenger door. With the advent of push-button electrically operated rear seats, this is one feature we would like both Toyota and Nissan to work out.
So, there you have it—seven points to consider when shopping for your EDSA-crushing Japanese SUV. It has to be said, though, that both these vehicles have extremely dated infotainment systems; neither have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and both have relatively aging displays—a cardinal sin in this day and age of retina displays and high-resolution touchscreens.