Whenever automakers give their models a refresh or a facelift, they usually only give it only subtle -if not minor- changes. From tweaked headlights, a restyled grille, a more high-tech infotainment system, or additional features, it's just one of their ways of keeping a model fresh and up-to-date.
However, there are car companies that go the extra mile. Take for example Nissan which launched the 2022 Terra three months ago. Despite being just an update, it actually looks more like an extensive redesign of the entire vehicle. From the exterior to the interior, as well as the extensive equipment available, Nissan seems to have spared no expense in making sure their midsize SUV can keep up with the likes of the Everest, Fortuner, Montero Sport, and mu-X.
After getting to test the top-of-the-line VL 4x4, Nissan recently gave us the keys to the VL 4x2 variant. Since the 4x2 versions tend to outsell the 4WD offerings, this could be Nissan's most important model in the lineup. But did Nissan have to remove some features originally found in the 4x4? And just how more affordable is the VL 4x2 over the range-topping version?
I've already said it before, but Nissan really outdid themselves when it came to updating the Terra's looks. The first thing that immediately pulled me in are the quad LED headlights and L-shaped daytime running lights (DRLs). There's also the larger V-Motion grille finished in chrome which further adds to the Terra's stylish looks. Speaking of chrome, Nissan also gave the foglight bezels the shiny treatment. The result is a bolder-looking SUV that also looks more upmarket.
Also worth mentioning is the redesigned rear. It now gets sleek LED taillights and a new chrome garnish that gives it a flashier appearance. Speaking of flashy, the Terra also rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 255/60/R18 tires. Not only do the new wheels suit the Terra's sleeker looks, but they're actually standard across the range.
So the Terra looks good from the outside. However, I did notice it could do with a recess that will help drivers open the tailgate easier. That's because the Terra's remodeled tailgate only has a small recess where one can easily press the automatic release (hidden above the plate holder) in order to open the back. Without an automatic function, those carrying plenty of bags might have a difficult time opening the tailgate when loading stuff in. Hopefully, Nissan rectifies by making it easier to actually grab onto the tailgate itself when someone has to open it.
If you thought the exterior looked great, you'll also be impressed with the restyled cabin. In the past, buyers complained that the interior of the Terra looked too much like its pick-up sibling, the Navara. Nissan rectified this by completely redesigning the interior for the Terra's facelift.
With it, the dashboard looks more upscale and sophisticated; like something you would find in a more luxurious SUV. It even gets a new D-cut steering wheel, slimmer aircon vents, a revised center console, and leather-trimmed door cards. Then there's the leather-padded dashboard which is perhaps my most favorite part of the cabin. Thanks to its Burgundy Red finish, it serves as a neat contrast against the black leather seats.
Need to quickly get to the third row? Instead of fiddling with the levers on the second-row seats, drivers can just flick a button on the center console which can automatically fold the 60:40 split-folding seats. It's faster, less cumbersome, and a neat trick to show off to the kids.
On the technology front, there's the new 9-inch touchscreen infotainment. It's leagues ahead of the previous system and comes with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, AM/FM radio, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity. Thanks to its tablet-like ergonomics and faster processing speed, it's easy to navigate through each menu. Speaking of navigation, this also has satellite navigation as standard. Should you find yourself in a place with no data coverage (meaning no Waze or Google Maps while on the road), the Terra's built-in sat-nav will point you in the right direction. Did I mention it also comes with an 11-inch drop-down monitor for the rear passengers?
Sorry Bose fans, the 8-speaker audio system is only available on the 4x4 VL trim. However, the standard six-speaker sound system on the VL 4x2 delivers admirable sound quality. Plus, you can still adjust the audio fidelity via the touchscreen's settings.
Aside from equipping the SUV with upgraded amenities, perhaps the most important upgrade the Terra received (safety-wise) is the expanded advanced safety features. From forward collision warning, intelligent emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, and rear-cross traffic alert, these features can really enhance the safety you feel while driving.
But what I really liked with the Terra is the 360-degree camera system they cleverly called the “Intelligent Around View Monitor”. From its namesake, it provides drivers with an all-around view of the vehicle thanks to a set of specially-placed cameras. Not only does this make parking the Terra that much easier, but it can also monitor the vehicle's surroundings should there be someone or something nearby.
Also part of the Intelligent Mobility package is a special rearview mirror. Instead of an auto-dimming mirror, the one on the Terra actually doubles as a digital screen. By simply flipping the rearview to 'night mode' as you would on a traditional day/night mirror, it activates a screen that gives you a real-time view of what's behind you without the glare. Now that's nifty.
So we've seen its refreshed exterior and comfier interior. Under the hood, however, all remains the same. That means the Terra continues to be powered by the 2.5-liter YD25DDTi turbo-diesel inline-four. It makes 190 PS at 3600 rpm along with 450 Nm of torque at 2000 rpm. Power is then sent to wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox with sequential shift.
Despite the engine receiving no updates, the turbo-diesel still delivered gobs of low-end torque. That means you can easily put your foot down when you need to overtake other vehicles on the road. There are no paddle shifters present, but it does come with sequential shifting which allows drivers to change gears manually. Personally, I left the transmission at 'D' most of the time.
But if there was one thing I have to complain about the automatic transmission, it would be its gearing between third and fourth gears. Like the 4x4 VL unit we tested months ago, the gearbox tends to hold onto the aforementioned gears for longer than it should. We're not entirely sure why it does that, but it could be due to the programming of the transmission's computer box, or gear ratios. Other than that, the transmission is fine and actually delivered admirable fuel economy figures.
Since this has no 4WD system, it's actually lighter than the 4x4 VL. This technically translates to a better fuel economy over the range-topping Terra. In normal city driving, it managed to return around 8.5 km/L. In heavier traffic conditions, the Terra was only able to average about 7.5 km/L. Out on the highway with just myself and two companions, the SUV was able to sip fuel at around 14.0 km/L. Not bad, but I believe the Terra can easily do 15.0 km/L if taken on a long journey.
The powertrain may have been a mixed bag, but what I really liked about the Terra is the ride quality. After being behind the wheel for a week, I can truly say that the Terra is one of the most comfortable midsize SUVs in the market. Whether you're seated at the front or at the second row, you'll be treated to a soft ride. The driver and front passenger will also be glad to know they are seated on Zero Gravity seats which is a godsend especially when you have to drive for hours on end.
I wasn't able to test the riding comfort while seated on the third row. But since those seats are already sitting on top of the rear axle, ride quality for those at the very back could be slightly bouncier than the ones seated on the second row. They're best left for kids, but I'm happy to report that I was able to fit my 5'8 frame at the third-row with ease.
While handling is not exactly the Terra's best feature, Nissan did swap out its previous power steering unit with a new one that delivers quicker turning. It's still hydraulic-based instead of electric, but that's fine with me since it provides more road feedback over electric power steering (EPS) units.
With a sticker price of PHP 1,999,000, the Nissan Terra in VL 4x2 trim offers great value for money. Almost every feature that's available in the 4x4 version is present in the 4x2 VL (minus the Bose sound system, hill-descent control, 4x4 and locking rear diff). Combined with its comfy ride and wide array of standard amenities and safety features, Nissan really did their homework with the Terra VL 4x2.
However, I do wish Nissan actually work on the powertrain issue with regards to the transmission. The turbo-diesel has plenty of pull, but if they can make the automatic shift gears smoother, then it would be almost perfect.
If you're in the market for a midsize 7-seater SUV that's brimming with high-tech features, a comfortable ride, and a suite of intelligent safety systems, then the Terra VL 4x2 could be the next vehicle you're looking for.
- Make: Nissan
- Model: Terra VL 4x2 AT
- Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve Inline-4 VG Turbo Intercooler
- Max Power: 190 PS @ 3600 rpm
- Max Torque: 450 Nm @ 2000 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed AT with manual mode
- Price as Tested: ₱1,999,000