Does size still matter in this day and age where almost everything is becoming smaller and downsized?

Take the SUV, for example. Before, they were known for being big bulky vehicles that are great for going off-road but greatly compromised on pavement. Fast forward to today and things have greatly changed. SUVs nowadays are usually seen sticking to the road rather than off of it. And because of the rise of the crossover, some now see true 4x4s as a bit of a dinosaur.

Of course, there are those who still want ultimate off-road capability, but these days, having compromised road manners is no longer an excuse. Also, what if you preferred something with more heft and power, and size was not an issue? This brings us neatly to the Nissan Patrol Royale.

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First introduced way back in 1951, the ‘King of the Off-Road’ (according to Nissan) has come a long way from its rugged roots. Now geared towards luxury, the flagship SUV from Nissan has plenty to offer and then some.

We know what you're thinking: Doesn't the Toyota Land Cruiser have the same back story? Yes it does but we've always been curious about Nissan's cruise ship on wheels. Besides, there are loads of Land Cruisers on the roads (and we mean on pavement) that we think the it's about time we talked about the Nissan this time around. Thankfully, that opportunity came along recently. 

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Classy and Stately

It was a cold and rainy Wednesday when we had to meet up in Bonifacio Global City for the three-day ride-and-drive. While the weather did dampen our early morning meet-up, getting to see the Patrol Royale up close made waking up early worth it.

Call it brutish, butch, or bold, the Nissan Patrol Royale is far from subtle. If you’re a fan of the previous generations of the 4x4, you’ll like the Patrol Royale’s combination of both old and new design elements. Upon first glance, its commanding presence is quite a sight amidst today’s slew of sleek and angular crossover SUVs. It’s unapologetically massive, further emphasized by its boxy and upright shape as its predecessors. 

Stylish LED headlights, along with the huge V-Motion front grill give the 4x4 its signature look. Neat touches of chrome on the foglight bezels, door handles, side mirror caps, roof rail  as well as the taillight garnishes give it a more sophisticated look. It even gets running boards, large 20-inch alloy wheels, along with a tailgate-mounted spoiler for good measure.

Personally, I wish there was less chrome trim, particularly on the taillights as I think they would look better without them. Then again, that’s just me being nitpicky with the minor details. To be honest I wasn’t exactly sure about the Patrol Royale’s look. But in the end, it grew on me and won me over with its stately demeanor.

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Business Class on Wheels

Enough oggling at the exterior, it's time to see what the Patrol has inside. Open the doors and acres of tan (or black) leather cover the entirety of the cabin and is complemented by generous faux wood trim and metal accents. Both the driver and front passenger are treated to power-adjustable seats (with memory function for the driver) that also have generous shoulder and side support. Speaking of space, both the second and third row seats are capable of seating three individuals, making the Patrol Royale an 8-seater.

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The 'Royale' part of the name can be best experienced in the best seats in the house (or in this case 'SUV'): the back. Aside from the fact that it has enough space for three people to seat in, the rear quarters are essentially a mobile entertainment system. Behind the front headrests are two monitors which can play your favorite movies or series via a flash drive or HDMI port. You can also play DVDs on them via the infotainment system. But unless you’re going somewhere, the system will automatically stop playing the DVD once it senses the Patrol is mobile. Luckily, that’s not the case when you’re watching via USB / HDMI.

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But what if you have kids that want to watch a different movie instead of the one you’re already viewing? Don't fret as the system can simultaneously display two different things. That way, you, the kids or someone else can enjoy each of their own preferred movies while on the go.  As an added bonus, it even comes with two wireless headsets that can be used. 

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And should a friend or relative of yours want to watch along, they can plug in their own headset via a 3.5mm jack located below the center console in order to listen as well. Should it only be you (and the driver) inside the Patrol, you can channel the movie’s audio onto the 13-speaker Bose sound system. Perhaps the only thing it lacks right now are a pair of optional captain seats for the second row. Are you not entertained yet?

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All-around 360-degree visibility

Much like the Navara and the Terra, the Patrol Royale now also comes with Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility. This means it comes equipped with a 360-degree around view monitor that acts as the car’s extra pair of eyes and ears. With a push of a button, one can now see their immediate surroundings without having to look out the window. This is great for when you have to park the Patrol in tight parking spaces, or for when you have to maneuver through narrow pathways.

And should you happen to be taking the Patrol Royale off-road, the system can serve as your own personal spotter. That means you can now avoid debris, cross narrow bridges, and see how near the wheels are from a ledge or embankment. Plus, it’s also a great help when you have to climb up (or go down) steep hills without having to estimate your distance to the ground.

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Japanese Muscle

The Patrol may be of Japanese origin but its V8 can give the Americans a run for their money. Normally we associate the word 'muscle' with big American cars and SUVs. With large V8s under the hood along with a deep thunderous exhaust, these cars means business when it comes to delivering sheer horsepower and torque. The Patrol is no different.

Underneath its long hood sits a stonking, 5.6-liter naturally-aspirated V8 dubbed the VK56D. It generates 400 PS 5800 rpm along with a meaty 560 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. It benefits from direct injection, as well as Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL) which makes it quite rev-happy if you bury your foot on the accelerator (which I had the pleasure of doing several times).

The Patrol makes its presence known with a throaty exhaust. Push the engine beyond 2500 rpm and the eight-cylinder will start to belt out a deep and thunderous note. Overtaking other cars was not a problem for the Patrol thanks to generous amounts of torque available at low RPMs.

And since it’s not afraid to make use of all those revs, the Patrol is also quite the highway performer. In both CAVITEX and along the Ternate-Nasugbu road. the V8 performed stellarly and did not miss a beat. And did we mention how smooth the seven-speed automatic transmission is? We hardly felt any shift shock from the gear changes during our time with the Patrol Royale.

With eight cylinders nestled under the hood, you can probably guess the downside of driving a Patrol Royale. In case it wasn't obvious, it's thirst for gasoline. During our drive from BGC to Tagaytay via CAVITEX, Kaybiang and Ternate, we were only able to average between 5 - 7 km/l at best complete with overtakes and snaking through heavy traffic. And since it has a 95-liter tank, expect to pay expensive fuel bills with the Patrol Royale.

Comfortably Refined

Let’s face it, big hulking SUVs are the last type of vehicles you’d expect to be agile. But for a vehicle that weighs nearly 2.8 tons, it takes on bends without feeling too unhappy about it. That’s because the Patrol Royale comes with Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC).

In a nutshell, this unique feature ensures that there is less body roll when tackling the twisties. While it’s not exactly the type of vehicle I’d use for taking on corners, the HBMC did keep the Patrol Royale planted. Combined with its light steering and fully-independent front and rear suspensions, driving the Patrol Royale isn’t as daunting as one might think. Sure, it's no GT-R but you won't have the sensation of the mammoth 4x4 tipping over at the mere suggestion of a corner. Seriously, one must be able to try it should you have a chance to drive a Patrol Royale and see how it works for yourself. 

As for ride quality, this is probably one of the most comfortable SUVs that I’ve had the pleasure of being in. It is so comfortable that there was one point where I just wanted to sit in the back and let the others drive it. Bumps on the road, pock-marked and rutted streets, as well as the occasional pot holes pose no challenge for the Patrol Royale and its soft ride.

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Go anywhere you please

It may be more of a luxury vehicle now but Nissan says the Patrol is more than willing to get its wheelarches dirty. Sure, you'll rarely see these giants take on the trail, but it's nice to know that it still can. It was also nice that we got to experience it first hand too.

With permanent four-wheel drive (4WD), the Patrol is capable of going anywhere it wants despite what Mother Nature throws at it. No rain, no mud, no floods, and no tricky trail will scare off this big bruiser of a 4x4. With a turn of a switch, the Patrol can go from 4WD-Automatic to either 4WD-High or 4WD-Low. It even comes with rear-locking differentials, as well as four driving modes: On-road, Rock, Sand, and Snow. As much as we had fun driving through the twisties and along spacious highways, we just had to take it off the beaten path.

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With a ground clearance of 273mm (about 10.75 inches), trekking through tricky terrain was easy despite its bulky physique. The short front and rear overhangs also helped the 4x4 maintain its mobility as it did not get stuck. With loads of torque always available thanks to the V8, climbing over terrain was easy as can be for the Patrol Royale. And should you be afraid of going down hilly dirt roads, you can activate hill-descent control and let the Patrol do the braking for you. One less thing to think about when you’re out and about in the trail. The only limitation is its size as some trails won't exactly accomodate this two-meter wide SUV.

Despite being fitted with highway tires, I was impressed how the 4x4 kept its composure in the mini off-road trail that Nissan set up for us. What more if it came with all-terrain tires on all four corners? That would have been a treat indeed.

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At what cost?

So how much will this piece of mobile real estate set you back? Php 5 or 6 million perhaps? The Patrol Royale with its huge V8, lavish interior and classy-looking exterior will only cost you Php 3.888 million. No we’re not the kidding; that is the suggested retail price of Nissan’s flagship luxury SUV. Where else will you be able to find such a huge 8-seater that comes with 4x4, a full leather interior complete with a decked-out entertainment system, an engine that can practically tow a Terra, and a comfortable and lofty ride?

Sure coughing up nearly Php 4 million is still a huge investment, but compared to its closest rival, the Toyota Land Cruiser which starts at Php 4.374 million, the Patrol Royale easily trumps the Toyota in pricing alone. Plus, the Nissan has more going for it thanks to a wide array of standard features whereas the Land Cruiser in basic trim comes with lesser equipment than the Full Option (which is selling for Php 4.740 million).

But what other features are fitted as standard on the Patrol Royale besides the one I mentioned earlier? It has cruise control, power-adjustable steering column, power tailgate, three-zone automatic climate control, power sunroof, and heated and ventilated front seats. As far as safety features are concerned, the Patrol has the following: anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, limited-slip differential, stability and traction controls, hill-start assist, reverse camera with parking sensors, and six airbags.

Some might say that despite all its amenities, features and creature comforts, a turbo-diesel engine will be more efficient and less costly on the fuel bills. But to be frank, the fact that you can buy one of these means gassing up every now and then will not be a problem for you. Besides, maintaining a gasoline-powered car will be less costly in the long run compared to a diesel-powered one, give or take.

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So what do we think of this huge luxury barge that is the Patrol Royale? If you’re the type that wants to live large and wants something equally large to carry all your luggage and family, the Patrol Royale should be on the top of your list.

Its huge size means there is plenty of cabin space and that powerful V8 can take you anywhere you want swiftly. It has plenty of toys inside that will keep you and the others entertained for hours and its soft yet planted ride means you will not get easily carsick when going over long distances. And with its 4x4 capability at the ready, taking the road less traveled with the Patrol Royale will be a walk in the park.

As SUVs and crossovers continue to become smaller, the Nissan Patrol Royale refuses to go quietly into the night as it stands tall and proud. If you happen to have Php 4 million burning a hole in your pocket and are looking for a huge estate on wheels, Nissan’s flagship SUV is waiting for you.