Now before anyone jumps up and down and says that I don’t know what I’m talking about, let me just say this: It’s only a personal opinion, nothing more…
Right, I have been looking forward to this for a while now, and driving both vehicles off road is also something of a quite different experience.
Now, I am comparing the Patrol Ti 4.5 litre petrol straight 6 automatic with Series 2000 XGS heavy duty suspension with a 50mm lift front & rear and a rear diff lock.
Against a Landcruiser 4.7 litre V8 auto, also running Series 2000 XGS suspension only with this vehicle, it only has a 40mm lift at the front, and 60mm lift at the rear, without diff locks, and independent front suspension. The torsion bar has not been replaced only wound up by 40mm.
Both vehicles shod the same rubber being 285/75R16 BFGoodrich All Terrains.
So, with anticipation, there needs to be a level of understanding that the Patrol is lifted 10mm higher at the front, and has the advantage of a rear diff lock.
The area in which I spent the day, was at Howes Valley and the Yengo mountain trail, and a quick drive along the Old Settlers Trail at Woolomi, which took us through a number of private properties which I have been driving for many years and know this part of the world like the back of my hand, so I am well aware of the areas in which required a diff lock for me to gain access to and where I can make it without the diff lock engaged.
Now firstly both vehicles handle the fast dirt roads extremely well with the TJM suspension, though with the Landcruisers independent front suspension it was far more comfortable and soaked up the bumps with much more supplelty (SP) almost limo like…and because of the independent front suspension of the Cruiser, it seemed to keep all wheels firmly planted on the dirt than the patrol did, as the patrol seemed to skittle across some corrugations on the corners much more than the cruiser did allowing me to drive just that little bit quicker with a lot more confidence.
There is a 16 kilometre stretch of fairly rough secondary road to gain access to where we were headed at Mt Yengo, so it gave me a good chance to evaluate both vehicles. I have done this same stretch of road in the Patrol at least 50 times on previous occasions, both with 4 wheel drive engaged and the Landcruisers centre diff lock also engaged.
Conclusions to the secondary roads were that the Cruiser handled the stretch with far more confidence and in a lot more comfort than the Patrol ever did. We were much more refreshed at the end of the jaunt than we were in the Patrol. I think the firmer seats in the Cruiser played a part in that though.
Now we have entered some pretty rugged tight twisty tracks for which a lot of negotiating to avoid scratches came into play.
Firstly, there is one extremely tight bend in the track which requires you to reverse 2 times to get around the bend as both vehicles are not known for their nimbleness in tight corners, though this was interesting. This particular bend which requires the patrol to reverse 2 times to get through the corner the Landcruiser only had to reverse once as it’s turning circle is better than the patrol is, which may have something to do with the wheel base of the two vehicles because the wheel base of the patrol is 120 mm longer in the Nissan than it is in the Landcruiser.
I wasn’t aware of this until I went home and looked it up as I didn’t realise that the Patrol was so much longer in the wheelbase!
Which makes sense now when you think about it, as the Patrol always looks so much higher off the ground than the Landcruiser is which gives the illusion of better off road capabilities, though because of the longer wheel base, it needs to be higher so that the ramp over angle is 27 degrees as opposed to the Landcruiser of 25 degrees despite the Landcruiser looking so much lower than the patrol.
This would explain to a small degree why the two vehicles drive so different on the road as the patrols body is always higher off the ground than the Landcruisers…only an observation…Anyhow, I digress, on with my little test…
Traveling along the track, there were very few undulations which cause either of the vehicles any problems until we reach the first of 3 extremely steep inclinations.
Now this bit’s interesting….
The first part which always requires me to lock the rear difflock on the Patrol because the rear just lifts slightly enough to loose traction didn’t faze the Landcruiser, absolutely no slip what so ever…obviously it has better rear wheel articulation than the Patrol does which was very interesting.
Anyhow, a little bit further is an area which requires your passenger to get out and help with the placement of your wheels as severe damage could occur without knowing exactly where to position the wheels.
Onward to the top of the first part without any dramas.
The next section was the worst, it requires skill & patience or you will never make it…Lucky I had a passenger who knew what he was doing eh.....
We have our hand winch just in case….once again, there was no trouble what so ever reaching the top with very little spinning at all.
In the Patrol, you cannot make the incline without the difflock engaged as it just keeps loosing traction and you just sit there….
Now, having said that, the Ti Patrol doesn’t have a LSD, it operates on an open diff until the difflock is engaged, so in my humble opinion sort of sucks.
I think a capable LSD at the rear is a far better option than the open diff arrangement which as me quite often spinning the rear wheel around a corner in the wet on bitumen roads….I guess you can’t have everything eh…
After reaching the top of this track, I was extremely happy with the performance of the IFS Landcruiser, and if this is an indication of it’s capabilities without a front diff lock, I at this stage don’t see any reason why I should even spend my money....well, for a little while anyway...
The Conclusion of the climb is that from all indications I can establish, I can’t see the Patrol going anywhere in which the Landcruiser won’t well at least up until the last 5% if severe terrain.
and I’m sure that with a front diff lock, it will probably go even further…that said, it’s my personal opinion....
The front articulation of the IFS maybe dismal, though the rear articulation makes up for any short falls the IFS has over the live axel arrangement of the Patrol to a small degree at least.. I personally can’t see a great difference in off road ability of a live axel over that of a IFS, as more often than not, both vehicles over this particular section had their front wheels cocked in the air anyway, regardless, once one of the front wheels start to spin with open diff’s you are relying totally on the rear axel anyway….so in my line of thinking, whether it’s a live axel or IFS, once that front wheel is in the air or looses any sort of traction, there is absolutely no difference in ability what so ever…so, then it comes down to the rear articulation……Noted that the IFS will lift long before the live axel will…sometimes.
So, if that’s the case and the rear articulation is what is most important in may cases, it looks like in some circumstances, the IFS may even go further….it certainly will if the IFS has a locking front diff as opposed to a useless open arrangement…I carry on.
Ok, now we have got up the top (After 5 hours…) had our coffee, and now it’s time to turn around and go back…
Now this is a little more interesting……
On the first decline, going back (The steepest section) I nearly came unstuck in the Patrol a number of times and slid about 10 metres once as the engine braking couldn’t hold me back as the track is very slimy and damp…..
The Landcruiser however really surprised me with its ability in low locked first to just idle down the hill with absolutely no run away what so ever. I never once needed to touch my brakes at any section of the track!
In extremely slow crawling descending work, The Patrol didn’t bestow on me the same confidence I now have in the Lancruisers low range.….
That said, I think with the extremely supple suspension in the Cruiser and the fact it soaks up the bumps with much more comfort than the patrol does, doesn’t give you the same “Feel “ of obstacles under the wheels than the patrol does unfortunately. But it’s all what you get used to though I guess.
The rest of the return didn’t bother the Landcruiser for one moment.
In my conclusion to this little personal test is that I can honestly say that I have no problems in getting anywhere the Patrol did in my Landcruiser, it did everything capably and with a lot, and I mean a lot more comfort.
I have no regrets.
During this drive, the bottom of the Landcruiser definitely scrapped a little more than the Patrol did, but after getting under the truck after the day, there were absolutely no tell tale marks anywhere which may have been of a concern.
There is one particular section where a large rock has to be driven over, and without fail the Patrol always just scraped the rear overhang ever so slightly, just enough to have to get out the touch-up paint after each trip saw the Landcruiser just by a whisker avoid that particular rock! I was so happy to see that, I didn’t really want to get out the touch-up paint on my first off road stint. So in comparison, the Landcruiser definably has a better departure angle than the patrol…Ok, may be not much, but it’s is better, even if only by a whisker.
I am very pleased.
One minor detail worth mentioning which I found particularly handy, is the fact that the Landcruiser has 2 12 volt cigarette lighter sockets in the front, which meant I could have both my Navman & My Magellan GPS plugged in at the same time without having to unplug one to use the other.
Another thing I discovered was this…..I had stopped on a particular dangerous part on my way up, and decided to get out and have a look before proceeding, so I turned off the engine and navel gazed for a while to contemplate my next step.
Anyhow, I jumped into the truck, just touched the ignition key and immediately wanted to jump out and check something else when I noticed that the engine cranks over continuously until the motor fires up without you having to have the ignition key turned on!
I thought this was a bit strange so I went home and looked it up and sure enough, that’s the way the ignition is designed to do.
You just ever so slightly hit the ignition key, let go and the engine will crank over until the motor starts to a maximum of 15 seconds!
Pretty neat eh!
I learn something new every day with this truck!
One thing which really has to be understood, there is so many variables when it comes to off roading, 2 exact same vehicles can perform quite differently with different drivers at the wheel.
Different tyre pressures, a slight different line on a difficult section can all play to a different ending and which vehicle makes it in the end.
Sometimes it's just plain luck too.....
If you want to know what I thought of the differences on the blacktop, go here: