The list of SUVs you can drive that have an undisputed aura of power and respect is short and very distinguished, and often very expensive.
There's the Mercedes G-Class, the BMW X5, or even the Range Rover. Yeah, that last one is a crossover, but it doesn't make that much of a difference in terms of the respect you get. From the U.S., you can opt for the Ford Expedition, a Chevrolet Suburban, or even the Cadillac Escalade, but you'll have to resort to the gray market for a Caddy. If you want to go Japanese, then the options are the Mitsubishi Pajero, the Toyota Land Cruiser 200, and this: the Nissan Patrol Royale.
The Patrol Royale, like many -if not all- of the vehicles on that list, is very common amongst the hefes of the industry like COOs, CEOs and Chairmans, or amongst those who are often called Cong, Mayor, or Gov. It's not hard to see why: today's Patrol quite simply exudes power.
That wasn't always the case, as the Patrol can trace its roots to a post-war first generation model (AKA 4W60) that is veritably a military-style 4x4 in the tradition of Jeep. The first Patrol was created in response to the Japanese government's request for a rugged vehicle that can capably traverse post-war Japan's devastated road network. The military contract for Japan eventually went to Toyota for the first Land Cruiser.
Over the decades, the Patrol continued its evolution. Over 5 generations, from 1951 to 2010, the Patrol has served in a huge variety of 4x4-related roles worldwide. Some versions were intended for utility, maximizing the ability to reach faraway places -often with few or no roads- with confidence. Some were for military and special security units like United Nations peacekeeping forces or even our own Presidential Security Group. But it was inevitable, really, for the Patrol to evolve to target those looking for luxury on any kind of terrain.
The current Patrol is no spring chicken. It's been around since 2010, initially launched by the one of the predecessors of Nissan Philippines that dealt specifically with the utility vehicles of the Japanese brand: Universal Motors Corporation. In 2018 Nissan Philippines launched the facelifted version, and that's the model we're driving.
The changes are relatively minor. Nissan swapped out the bumper for one that had different foglamp housings, a revised grille that does away with the honeycomb of old, and a new pair of LED projector headlamps with unique LED DRLs. There's actually a slightly newer look for the Patrol with round foglamps, but for some odd reason, that's not the one we're driving.
The new model rides on 20-inch wheels, but overall the vehicle's body is the same. The one thing that really sticks out is the liberal use of chrome on, well, anything they can. Quite frankly it reminds me more of a yacht especially in this shade of white. It just so happens to have four wheels. Maybe I should ask the MYC how much the berthing fees are.
Size-wise, the Patrol is larger than the LC200 overall. At 5165mm, the Patrol is just 5mm shorter than the premium version of the LC200, but the Nissan is 15mm wider and 10mm taller. In terms of wheelbase, it's not a contest: the Patrol's 3075mm wheelbase is 225mm longer than the LC200's. The distance between the front and rear axles may seem like inconsequential info, but a longer wheelbase vehicle (with all other qualities being equal like suspension settings, weight, etc) will have a better ride and better stability than a vehicle with a shorter wheelbase.
Getting inside the Patrol Royale isn't that easy for the vertically challenged (i.e. myself) but the big and wide stepboard does help a lot. The first thing you'll notice upon sitting down is the level of comfort of the leather front seats; the plushness is superb, reminiscent of a La-Z-Boy rather than a car seat. All that's missing is a seat massage function.
The second thing you'll notice is the rather old-fashioned aura that the dashboard has. Yes, there's quite a bit of technology and an abundance of buttons for high-tech features like the 4x4 system and other safety functions, but it already looks a bit dated. Older Y62 models had cream leather, but this new model has a black leather interior; which is more to my liking. But I do find that the brown faux wood paneling could have been omitted for something like gray ash wood and satin silver accents.
The color of the paneling is something you'd find in your dad's (or grand dad's) old “Chedeng”, and the grain pattern is reminiscent of those gaudy leopard prints from the 80's. But hey, some may like this style; it's just not something I would pick, and my DOB and personal account means I'm not exactly their target market.
The Patrol is an 8-seater; 2 in the front, and 3 for the middle and third rows. Sitting in the very back is alright and getting in isn't too difficult, though it's really best left for smaller and younger individuals because you do have to crouch quite a bit to get there. The middle row is very nice though, and something tells me that most customers will sacrifice the middle passenger in order to fold down that rather plush armrest instead; all the better to enjoy the ride and the dual screens on the driver and front passenger headrests.
The DVD entertainment system for the rear passengers is a nice touch, and there are options to plug in the included headsets, which will be useful to keep kids relaxed. There's an HDMI plug, too, so you can hook up your TV Plus or your phone (presumably). There is also a USB port for the rear that connects to the screens, but unfortunately we were unable to test whether the system can play AVI, DIVX, or MP4 files. Hello, torrenters!
Firing up the engine is done simply by pushing the button, all while the keyfob is in your pocket. There's no judder or clatter when you do so, and that's because this isn't a diesel: what's under the hood is a massive petrol (gasoline) twin cam, 32-valve V8 that has a displacement of 5.6 liters. The engine is good for 405 PS and 560 Nm of torque, which are plenty for the Patrol.
The key thing about the Patrol's drivetrain is not the engine though: it's how that performance is harnessed and transferred to the road. A 7-speed automatic takes care of the shifting duties, and its transferred to all four wheels automatically on demand. No, there is no 2H here (that's basically the Auto mode), but there are different selections and settings depending on terrain such as On-Road, Sand, Rock, or Snow. Climate change is getting palpable, but hopefully in the foreseeable future we won't need to use that last mode in the Philippines anytime soon.
As an urban drive, the Patrol Royale delivers as advertised, and more. Acceleration is quick, smooth and quiet. The Royale can go from 0 to 100 km/h in just under 7 seconds. At low speeds it's a big, comfortable SUV, but it isn't as plush riding as I thought it would be for two people (i.e. just you and your spouse). The suspension appears to be stiffened to give the Patrol Royale the ability to carry 8 (plus some cargo), so you do feel more bumps than you would have expected with something so big.
But where the Patrol Royale surprisingly excels is in urban maneuverability. Now while that sounds like a mistake, it isn't: the Royal is far easier to maneuver than I thought it would be. Taking tight 90 degree corners isn't bad at all, and you can easily place the front tires with a fair degree of precision and accuracy. And if you're doubtful, there's a monitor with four cameras that allows you to see all around the car and avoid costly curb rashes on those 20-inch wheels.
The big departure with this Y62 compared to the Y61 is the suspension and drive system. Patrol fans would know that prior to this Y62, the model has always had live axles; a feature that off-roaders swear by. The Patrol, since 2010 for this Y62 Royale, has transitioned to independent suspension on all four corners, and has caused somewhat of a stir amongst purists. But there are clear benefits to using independent suspension for highway cruising, cornering, and for off-road use. Actually, the Patrol's 273mm ground clearance was achieved because they can put the lowest points of a live axle 4x4 (the front and rear differentials) further up into the chassis.
Cornering is actually quite decent, and definitely far better than I expected. Yes the Royale is a big, heavy gargantuan of a vehicle, but it doesn't feel like one. The steering is light, and you can feel the Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) stiffening up the outer side (in relation to the turn) for better stability. It's probably best to think of HBMC as somewhat of a smart swaybar system, but honestly it still feels a bit odd if you've been used to standard SUVs. HBMC is also supposed to adjust the stiffness of the suspension to deliver a better ride at speed to better cope with bumps, but it feels a little delayed at times.
As for off-road performance, honestly we only had three days with the Patrol Royale, and the busy work week didn't really accommodate adventuring out into the wilderness. But we already did take the Patrol Royale's Dubai equivalent off-road in the Moroccan desert, romping around at 160 km/h on flat but rough dirt like it was nothing. And then dune bashing without getting stuck despite its significant weight handicap. As for those who desire a rock crawling review, well, we'll try that out when we can; this particular unit is, after all, the official vehicle of the president of Nissan Philippines. We didn't really want to return it in less than pristine condition.
The only issue with the Patrol is the fuel consumption. In urban traffic (18 km/h average) the Patrol Royale clocked in a 3.9 kilometers for every liter. That goes up to 4.3 km/l at a slightly higher average speed (23 km/h), but still, this thing is thirsty. On the highway it's better, but still at around 8.5 km/l (89 km/h average).
Some would point to the size of the engine, but I suspect that it's not just the size: it's also about the oversquare nature of its design. Now those who know engines would know that term: an oversquare petrol engine basically means that the bore (the diameter of the piston) is bigger than the stroke (the distance the piston travels up and down) in the engine. There are many pros and cons to both, but the key disadvantage to an oversquare engine, like the 98mm bore x 92mm strong 5.6L V8 in this Patrol Royale, is fuel economy simply because torque at low RPMs isn't that strong yet, meaning you'll have to rev a bit more to get going.
The engine may have variable valve timing with variable lift and fuel injection goes straight to the combustion chamber for better efficiency, but essentially they're fighting the big displacement and the design. So yeah, this Patrol Royale has a rather royal thirst. It's not much of a problem for the Patrol's biggest region which is the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) where gasoline is cheap: UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, among others. In the Philippines its going to hurt, especially since gasoline here costs north of PhP 50 per liter... or just over $1 per liter.
Heavy as the consumption may be, that might not be as big of an issue once we look at the pricing. The PhP 3.888 million price tag for the 2019 Nissan Patrol Royale seems expensive, but over the years Nissan has lowered the pricing for the model. When they first launched it in 2010, the Royale in this similar spec (more or less) retailed for PhP 5.375 million. Yes, the Patrol Royale has shed almost 1.5 million off its SRP, and that's largely due to new tax regulations and the fact that this Japan made unit qualifies for extra breaks. And even when compared to the LC200 (albeit in diesel) which starts at PhP 4.474 million, the Patrol Royale looks like really good value for what it is. Just close your eyes when you send in up to 140 liters of the premium fuel it uses into its tanks.
Yes, the Y62 has two.