As the saying goes, if you're late for the party, you have to bring the best gift.
The second wave of pickup platform vehicles has been out in the market for quite some time now and yet, one of the pioneers of the segment seemed to be missing. We are, of course, talking about Nissan.
However, that's all about to change this year as the Japanese automaker has officially debuted the Terra, their Navara-based SUV. You could say that it faces an uphill challenge given that its key rivals have been established in the country for quite some time now. But does the Terra have the numbers to lure potential buyers from the establishment?
By now, you might have figured the Terra's key rivals. In case you need a refresher, Nissan's latest SUV is set to go head to head with the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Ford Everest, Isuzu Mu-X, Mitsubishi Montero Sport and, the perennial best-seller, Toyota Fortuner.
The Chevrolet Trailblazer first came out in 2013 but got a major overhaul in 2016 with a significant update both inside and out. Ford's Everest on the other hand has been one of the segment's top-rated models thanks to a healthy dose of tech. Like the Trailblazer, the Isuzu Mu-X got a significant refresh with new engines under the hood, as well as tweaks to enhance ride and refinement. On to the Mitsubishi Montero Sport and it got a quiet update sometime last year while the Toyota Fortuner finally got more standard equipment and an upgrade to rear disc brakes.
Of course, all the SUVs mentioned are derived from existing pickup truck platforms.
Potent range toppers
It's safe to say that the default engine choice in this class would be a diesel. In fact, out of the six SUVs here, only one still offers a gas-fed engine, but that's another story.
Leading the pack is the Chevrolet Trailblazer. From its 2.8-liter Duramax engine, it makes 200 PS and a truly impressive 500 Nm of torque. These stats put it at the top of the heap. While the Ford Everest does match the Trailblazer's horsepower figure at 200 PS, it's down by 30 Nm as it is rated at 470 Nm in top-spec, 3.2-liter, inline-five guises.
So while Chevy and Ford take the top two spots in engine power, the Nissan Terra takes third and is also the most powerful Japanese option here. It also makes the most out of its engine as its 2.5-liter mill makes 190 PS although torque is in the mid-pack at 450 Nm. With the Nissan's figures, that drops the Mitsubishi Montero Sport into fourth. Before the arrival of the Terra, it was the Montero Sport that had the best horsepower per liter rating as its 2.4-liter engine makes 181 PS and 430 Nm of torque. Still, the Mitsubishi has perhaps one of the more novel engines here as it comes with variable valve timing.
The Isuzu Mu-X and Toyota Fortuner are tied for fifth as both make 177 PS, although their engine sizes differ. Under the hood of the Isuzu is a 3.0-liter engine while the Toyota squeezes out the same power from a smaller 2.8-liter unit. The Fortuner does leap ahead of the Mu-X in terms of torque with 450 Nm, on par with the Terra. With that, the Mu-X brings up the rear in the torque race with 370 Nm.
The tale of the tape
Who makes the biggest pickup-based SUV? In terms of length, that would be Ford which measures in at almost 5 meters long. The Chevrolet on the other hand is the widest of the group, and by quite a margin too. As for height, the Isuzu is the tallest of the bunch although it's just a 3 mm taller than the Everest. While there are three different models for longest, widest and tallest, Only one SUV can be declared the smallest overall. That would be the Mitsubishi Montero Sport.
Where does that leave the Terra? Well, it's one of the larger options in the segment, although not the outright largest. The Terra comes closest to the overall length of the Everest, the third widest in the group, and just 5 mm short of being the tallest in class.
As for wheelbase, it's a tie for the lead with the Ford Everest and Nissan Terra coming in at 2,850 mm each. It's also a tie for second with the Chevrolet Trailblazer and Isuzu Mu-X just 5 mm behind, perhaps no surprise as the two are based on each other. Even though it's the smallest overall, the Montero Sport has a longer wheelbase than the Fortuner.
Climb every mountain...
You could argue that ground clearance is perhaps one of the reasons why people get SUVs in the first place. One look at these cars and it looks as though they can clear ruts and obstacles with ease. Besides, the lowest SUV here sits 218 mm off the ground, which is a respectable figure.
With that, it's the Montero Sport that has the lowest ground clearance. Interestingly, three cars here have, on paper, the same ground clearance. The Terra, Everest and Fortuner have a claimed clearance of 225 mm. A few millimeters higher off the ground is the Mu-X; 5mm to be exact.
That leaves the Chevrolet as the SUV with the most clearance, and by quite some margin too. At 253 mm, it's quite a gap between it and it's cousin, the Mu-X.
...Ford every stream
Going over obstacles is one thing, but going through deep water is another matter. So how deep can you dunk these SUVs in water? Both Ford and Chevrolet claim the highest water wading capacity at 800 mm each, which is about two and a half feet. Toyota and Mitsubishi both rate the wading capacity of the Fortuner and Montero Sport at 700 mm. Isuzu on the other hand claims 600 mm for the Mu-X.
The Terra? Nissan (conservatively) rates it at 450 mm. Yes, it sounds low (because it is) but we'll let Hinori Awano, Chief Vehicle Engineer for the Terra, explain.
“The 450mm wading capability is what we guarantee that the Terra can handle without problems. The Terra has been tested to handle deeper water, but we cannot officially state what that maximum number is because there are too many factors involved,” said the engineer.
Surprise and delight
While these are all pickup-based SUVs, each one of these offer a unique selling point to sway you into the dealerships. As mentioned, the Trailblazer has the most potent engine in its class while the Everest tries to impress customers with its active safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and lane departure warning. Mitsubishi on the other hand has the novel MIVEC diesel engine and its class-leading eight-speed automatic. Also, the Montero Sport will let you have the option of four-wheel drive with a manual transmission.
Isuzu meanwhile loads in as much standard equipment as possible in the Mu-X, from an entertainment system to reverse cameras and stability control standard even in the lowest-spec models. As for Toyota, the Fortuner got new disc brakes at the back, added automatic climate control to the G variants, as well as a wide variety of engine options.
Being the new kid on the block, the Nissan Terra has to come with a lot of features that will make it unique. Fortunately, Nissan did their homework with the inclusion of their Intelligent Mobility safety suite, a barrage of sensors and cameras, plus a neat rear view mirror that also shows other hard to see angles out of the vehicle. One particular neat feature of the Terra is a button by the driver's seat area that allows the second row to slide forward for third row access.
Forthe top of the line versions, it would be the Chevrolet Trailblazer 4x4 Z71 that comes with the smallest price tag at Php 1,988,888. Another surprise is the range-topping Nissan Terra Premium 4x4 as it undercuts the rest of the established (and older) group at Php 2,096,000. Standing in the middle ground are the Isuzu Mu-X 3.0 LS-A BluePower at Php 2,145,000 and, for a little more, the Mitsubishi Montero Sport GT at Php 2,164,000.
Two SUVs break the Php 2.2 million mark, namely the Toyota Fortuner 2.8 V and Ford Everest 3.2 4x4 Titanium. The top-spec Fortuner starts at Php 2,245,000 while the Everest with all the bells and whistles rings up the cash register at Php 2,288,000.
By the looks of it, the Nissan Terra doesn't exactly pull up class-leading figures. Power ratings are near the top, it's not the largest, nor can it go that deep in a flood, according to Nissan's conservative ratings at least.
However, numbers can only go so far to describe the Terra. For starters, the spec sheet won't tell us how it will drive and perform. The Terra packs a lot of features and its pricing undercuts four of the biggest names in its class, both in base two-wheel drive and fully loaded four-wheel drive models. Plus, our editor's first impressions were pretty favorable too.
But really, the toughest test of the Terra is coming soon. That would be a full review in the real world. How will it do? Watch this space.