Test drive: The $29k Nissan Patrol pickup

Truck & Fleet ME takes the no-frills, utilitarian Nissan Patrol pickup for a spin

PHOTO: On the job-site, the Patrol pickup is a great workhorse for transporting workers with a decent haul of equipment and materials. Credit: Jerusha Sequeira/MEConstructionNews.com

The Nissan Patrol pickup has been in the Middle East for more than six decades. Fishermen and shepherds relied on it to get them across countries within the GCC, and not just through paved roads. It excelled off the beaten track, whether through soft sand dunes or gritty gravel.

In essence, if you need to get from A to B without the fear of breaking down and getting stuck in unfamiliar terrain, the Patrol pickup is a safe bet. On the job-site, it’s a great workhorse for transporting workers with a decent haul of equipment and materials, and it can traverse rough roads, whether on a pothole-riddled construction site or a high-altitude pass.

With a recently refreshed facia, the Patrol pickup looks more brutish than ever. Its macho styling makes it a highly formidable road presence. Despite its bare bones styling, when T&F ME took it on a test drive it received plenty of attention from other vehicle traffic; a number of people approached us and spoke fondly of their experiences with the vehicle. The Patrol commands respect for what it is – a no-frills, utilitarian 4×4 that gets the job done.

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Under the hood, the Patrol packs a 4.8L inline-6 engine that churns out 280hp and 451Nm of torque. It comes with a choice of five-speed manual and automatic transmissions; the vehicle we tested had a manual gearbox.

At times I felt the need for a sixth gear, such as during a 120km/h highway run when the tachometer was stuck at 3,000rpm. Then again, this vehicle is not fitted with a neutered CVT that lets out an annoying drone for the sake of improved fuel economy.

The Patrol pickup is made for hauling cargo and towing things around; its towing capacity is 2,500kg. When 4×4 is needed, a transfer case allows shifting from 2WD to 4WD High and Low, and the pickup comes with a rear differential lock as standard. The test model was equipped with a winch, which would be really helpful in the event we got stuck, although I think it would probably be best put to use trying to pull out other less fortunate 4x4s.

The fuel economy left much to be desired; we averaged around 16l/100km. It’s a good thing that the vehicle is equipped with a sub-tank too. The main tank can hold 95L and the sub-tank an additional 80L, for a combined fuel capacity of 175L, ideal for long cross-border drives.

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The pickup has an all-steel body built on a ladder frame chassis, which adds to its ruggedness. Its suspension incorporates a heavy-duty coil spring suspension with three links in front and leaf springs at the rear.

This means the ride is less comfortable when the vehicle doesn’t have much of a load; but if you’re driving a Patrol pickup, you probably have cargo to move around. With a loaded flatbed, the leaf springs don’t allow the vehicle to bounce as much. The seats are uncomfortable, and you can forget about trying to recline, at least in the single-cab version.

The only creature comforts in the spartan interior were a CD player, aux-input and electric windows. Perhaps this is a good thing. The less electronics in a vehicle, the less that can potentially go wrong. That said, the pickup’s deficit in terms of interior styling is perhaps also its shield.

The Nissan Patrol pickup’s only competition comes from Toyota, in the form of the Land Cruiser Pickup affectionately known in Arabic in the Middle East as the ‘Bu shenab’, which translates to the “father of the moustache”. The title confers respect and rugged machoism. One of the differences between the two vehicles is that the Land Cruiser comes with a 4.0L engine that puts out 228hp, 52hp less than the Patrol. The engine is also a V6 as opposed to the Patrol’s inline-6, which is a hugely popular engine with tuners.

If you’re in the moving business or you’re an off-road enthusiast, the Nissan Patrol pickup is a great option. What it lacks in fuel economy and comfort, it makes up for in off-road prowess, hauling cargo and towing capacity.

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Engine: 4.8l, six-cylinder
Fuel type: Petrol
Gross power: 280hp
Gross torque: 451Nm
Fuel consumption: 16l/100km
Service intervals: Every 5,000km
Price: $29,120 as tested

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