BUYERS GUIDE - UTES & CAB CHASSIS MEDIUM
On paper, the Nissan Patrol ute had it over the opposition, because its live-axle, coil-sprung front end could be matched with a choice of leaf rear springs or coils In DX spec’ level. However, the execution wasn’t brilliant and the Patrol finally bit the dust in 2016.
The last of the Patrol ST cab/chassis came with four coils, air conditioning, power windows, central locking, moquette upholstery on twin bucket seats, non-MP3 CD player, power aerial, carpet, a lidded centre console, twin SRS air bags and twin map lights.
However, this tough and well-specified vehicle was let down by its powertrain and the wrong choice of wheelbase and gearing. Sadly, the workhorse 4.2-litre diesel was no more; replaced by a revamped three-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel.
Those who expected the upgrade to common-rail injection to revitalise this nine-year-old powerplant were disappointed: 118kW at 3200-3400rpm and, more significantly, a torque peak point of 380Nm at a heady 2000-2400rpm eclipsed the figures of Nissan’s 1988-vintage TD42 six, but didn’t compare with what the competition had to offer. The Navara’s Renault V6 diesel with its 550Nm of torque couldn’t come soon enough for the Patrol, but never did.
With a half-tonne load on board the Nissan took a decidedly down at heel stance. The cause was well known to Nissan and to anyone who bought a Patrol cab/chassis: the 2970mm wheelbase is too short for load carrying and the forward position of the rear axle puts a disproportionate amount of weight over the rear axle. The LandCruiser’s 3180mm wheelbase was much better.
If you want to buy a Patrol cab/chassis – coil or leaf rear end – and correct the wheelbase problem, budget five grand for a chassis and propshaft extension.
The Patrol’s vacuum-assisted hydraulic clutch linkage, or the pressure plate, produced an irritating ‘drag’ on release and the lever action was heavy and notchy.
Worse, the 4.262:1 first gear in the Patrol box was way too fast for 4.111:1 diffs, behind a revvy three-litre engine and all our testers found it too easy to stall the Patrol on lift-off. We’d hate to tow a heavy trailer with the Patrol cab/chassis.
A well cared for 4.2-litre, factory-turbo Patrol ute is a better buy than a newer three-litre.
Patrol coils sag easily, so a taller, stronger set is required, along with matching shock absorbers. The wheelbase is too short, so if you intend fitting a camping body on the back, an engineer-approved wheelbase extension is recommended.
Being a part-time 4×4 wagon the Patrol can benefit from a rear-axle self-locker, ideally matched by a driver controlled front locking diff.