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2018 Nissan Terra 4×4 VL First Impressions (With Video)

It's simply the best now in terms of on and off-road capabilities.

For quite some time now, Nissan has been teasing us with the prospect of a midsize SUV/PPV that would rival the likes of the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest, and Mitsubishi Montero Sport. There was a lot of hype, even if it already premiered China, so all of us from the motoring media world already knew what they were going to launch. It was the people, however, whom have no any idea yet on what car was Nissan launching. They were late to the party, admitted by Vincent Wijnen, Nissan’s head for Marketing and Sales for Asia and Oceania, from yesterday’s Q&A session, but they said they pulled out all the stops to make an SUV that is specifically tailored to the Asian market. Have they done their well? Let’s find out.

From the outside, things look promising. Sure, its design won’t bring any passionate songs of inspiration to anyone who sees the thing, but it’s a design that’s done just right. It looks elegant, purposeful, and authoritative with just the right amount of bling. Up front, you get Nissan’s trademark V-Motion grille that’s flanked by LED headlights with boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights. This is all standard Nissan corporate design language, one we’ve already seen in the Navara on which it is based, albeit in a different interpretation. It isn’t sexy, but it isn’t boring either, and will surely age well as time passes by.

There’s a sense of familiarity once you step inside, due to its dashboard design straight out of the Navara. Whether or not that’s a good thing or not depends on you, but we wish that Nissan could’ve made the interior a bit more plush by adding some soft touch materials on the dashboard or on top of the door trims. At least fit and finish is excellent all throughout, and there’s not a tacky piece of design detail anywhere. It’s a conservative but classy and durable mix of black and silver trims. Up front is a Blaupunkt factory-installed infotainment system, which contains Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a rear entertainment screen that mirrors whatever is in front.

One of the Terra’s unique features are its one-touch operated 60/40 split folding second row seats. One tug of the lever is enough for it to tumble forward, giving easy access to those who wish to sit at the third row. What makes this unique is that, this can be operated by the driver by pulling one of its two buttons just behind the gear shifter.

Elsewhere, you get the obligatory smart key with push button start, electronically adjustable driver’s seat, leather interior, three 12 volt outlets, and what Nissan calls its Nissan Intelligent Mobility suite of safety features. More about those in a moment.

As we set off to our journey to Mt. Pinatubo, we first cruise down SCTEX, which highlighted how stable and refined the new Nissan Terra is. Even at triple digit speeds, the Nissan Terra is very stable and quiet, with very minimal wind and road noise. This is partly thanks to Nissan employing techniques that range from the use of acoustic glass that Nissan says absorbs high frequency noises, and the extensive use of sound insulation in the dash, floors, and carpeting. Combined with the refined engine and stable handling, the Nissan Terra is off to a flying start in terms of refinement, which is no surprise, as the Navara on which it is based is highlighted by its refinement and comfort.

A Nissan review won’t be complete without talking about its trademark air conditioning, and as expected, it performed flawlessly. The second row passengers, in particular, are blessed with so much air vents, which are mounted behind the center console, and on the ceiling. Even in the sweltering heat of the day, the air conditioning was able to give more than enough cold air for everyone.

The 2.5-liter YD25 diesel engine that makes 190 hp and 450 Nm of torque is the same with the Navara’s, so it’s no surprise that the engine performs similarly in the Terra. The 7-speed automatic does a good job of putting the car into the right gear. Power delivery is relaxed rather than boomy, with peak torque coming in at 2,000 rpm. Its power is sufficient enough to put the Terra up to speed (cue Up To Speed theme song) when merging into expressways and when overtaking other vehicles.

This is where we were able to check out the Nissan Intelligent Mobility suite of safety features. Blind Spot Warning worked well when we were using it to check if there are oncoming vehicles when switching lanes, while Lane Departure Warning gives an audible and visual feedback when unintentionally drifting off the lane. Other features such as the 360-degree Around View Monitor cameras and Smart Rear View Mirror became handy during our off-road run.

As we enter the off-road trek going to Pinatubo’s Delta 5 route, the terrain became narrower and narrower until we reached the lahars. For this section, we programmed the 4WD system into 4L (4WD low) and turned on the Around View Monitor. It also has an option to display both the view from the front right wheel and the 360 degree view of the car, which is a major blind spot even when simply just parking the vehicle or getting out of tight spaces.

Even in rough terrain, the Nissan Terra manages to ride really well. Its 5-link rear suspension system with a solid rear axle not only provides excellent ride comfort, but also plenty of movement for the wheels to articulate well and remain in contact with the surface. This is further highlighted once we got to the extremely rocky parts of the terrain, wherein its excellent approach (32.3 degrees) and departure angles (26.6 degrees) showed its benefits. Combined with its relatively high 225 mm ground clearance, the Nissan Terra is able to climb up ridges that are even twice as high as sidewalk curbs without scraping the overhangs or the underbody. If the above photo isn’t proof of its capability, then I don’t know what is.

We’ve also driven through lahar, putting it into 4H (4WD high) as we entered the loose surface. If one drives too slow over it, wheels could sink into the lahar, which will make it hard for the car to get out of the surface as the wheels stuck into the ground. Lahar is like sand, making your feet sink into it if you stand on it too long. Thankfully, the riverbed created by the climatic eruption that happened more than 20 years ago was flat enough for us to drive relatively fast without worrying about getting stuck. Just be careful because there are some large rocks hiding underneath the riverbed, which could really rattle the vehicle as you splash through the riverbed.

As we finally finished the course, took some photos, and go back to Clark, we were very surprised how extremely capable the Nissan Terra is off-road. Beeboy Bargas, one of the lead instructors for the media drive and one who has made a name for himself in the off-roading scene, told us that this is one of the most extreme off-roading courses he and his team has designed. and yet, the Nissan Terra performed flawlessly and without any hiccups.

On the road, the Nissan Terra is also one of the most refined and comfortable in its class that we’ve ever been in to. It was so stable, refined, and well-mannered throughout the trip in paved roads. Due to its unique and capable attributes on and off the tarmac, the Nissan Terra may as well be one of the best that we’ve ever driven in the midsize SUV/PPV class.

Nissan was late to the party, and even they admit that. Some even say that they took too long to develop a midsize PPV to rival the Fortuner, Everest, and the likes, but one thing is for sure, they really did took their time, and they did it right. It may miss out on some interior plushness, or in some street cred, but from the way it rides and drives, it’s one of the best, period. We can’t wait to get our hands on one to show all of you how it is on a daily basis.

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