WITH the Patrol kitted up with its new Toyo Open Country R/T tyres, 40-inch Lightforce light bar and Ironman 4X4 roof rack and awning, we left Melbourne for two weeks of touring in the Victorian High Country. Our last fuel stop to top up the 140-litre tank was at Bruthen as we headed towards the New South Wales border and, travelling with a bunch of diesel-fuelled 4X4s as we were, the conversation centred on how long the big petrol V8 Nissan would last before it needed a top up.
The Ironman Instant Awning proved its worth on the first night out when dark clouds came over our camp on the Snowy River, and I elected to set up the awning to cover my swag. The threat only amounted to a small shower throughout the night, but I was happy to roll-up the swag nice and dry the next morning.
That day saw us head into the High Country proper, and the Ingeegoodbee Track is a stout initiation to the steep terrain. The long, steep climb is rutted in places, but the Patrolís V8 was never found wanting for power and the traction control nicely calibrated to address any wheel slip. The factory side-steps found every erosion humps on the track if you tried to drive straight over them and, unlike the other cars in the convoy that all had suspension lifts, the Patrol best traversed the humps diagonally when possible.
Engine braking is surprisingly good for a petrol engine/auto transmission combination, but when you consider the 5.6-litre capacity of the engine, so it should be. In fact, it is almost too good, as low range first gear is too low for all but the steepest descents, and you need to shift up to second gear and hover over the brake much of the time. The transmission holds first gear when you want it to, unlike the seven-speed auto in the old TDV6 Navara, which always shifted up at the worst possible moment.
It was on the steep descents, such as Billy Goats Bluff, where I found the Patrolís throttle control to be annoying. Crawling down in low-first, if I want to increase the speed a bit, I would normally lightly apply a bit of accelerator to bring the revs up to a speed that is both safe and comfortable. But the Nissanís throttle wouldnít hold a constant engine speed and flared up, even with steady pedal application. The only way to speed up was to shift up to second, which always seemed to allow the car to run away, so you needed the brakes. I tried the hill descent control but, like most of these systems, I hated the noise and jerkiness of its operation.
I was keen to see if this was just an issue with this car or if it was common to the Y62 when we did the road test elsewhere in this issue (page 32), and I was pleased to hear one of the other drivers comment on exactly the same issue before I brought it up. Itís a small blemish on an otherwise polished off-road performance, and itís certainly not a deal breaker if youíre considering buying one.
What was more annoying was that after three days of driving, mostly in low-range up and downhill all day, the Patrol was getting low on fuel and was the only car in the group that had to break from the trip to find a town and top-up the tank. None of the diesel cars had to do this for another couple of days. Thankfully the aftermarket has long-range tanks available for the Y62, and Iíd be fitting one if this sort of driving would be commonplace.
For the record, our average fuel consumption over the two-week trip was 22.8L/100km, and that included a highway run to Melbourne and back over the weekend in the middle of the trip Ė swags up on the roof rack did affect the aerodynamics. Our worst figure was 34.0L/100km when we were constantly in low range in the hills.
Fitted with a long-range tank, a lift from On Track 4X4, and some added protection from aftermarket side-steps and a front bar, the Y62 becomes an on- and off-road weapon. Yes, the side-steps were pretty trashed by the end of it, and the paint was scuffed on the lower parts at either end of the front bumper, so perhaps some added clearance and metal protection would be appreciated.
Paint protection would be a good idea, too, as the Y62 copped some pretty bad bush pinstripes while on this trip. A huge thanks to the detailers at American Vehicle Sales for the great work polishing the scratches out.