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AF­TER an epic two weeks ex­plor­ing the Vic­to­rian High Coun­try in the Y62 Pa­trol, it was back to the black­top for ANU-576, but thank­fully not lim­ited to the city com­mute. A week­end run to Ade­laide and back was on the cards, and the big Nis­san is a beaut high­way tourer. With its lux­u­ri­ously ap­pointed and spa­cious in­te­rior, and that pow­er­ful V8 en­gine backed by a smooth-shift­ing sev­en­speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, the Pa­trol makes easy work of long-dis­tance drives, and Melbourne to Ade­laide passes like a quick trip.

It’s dur­ing a solo drive like this when you re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate some of the finer fea­tures of the TI-L Pa­trol. The Bose au­dio sys­tem is a killer; the leather seats are big and com­fort­able and can be heated or cooled to your lik­ing, de­pend­ing on the cli­mate; while the ac­tive cruise con­trol makes keep­ing your speed on the right side of the law much eas­ier.

A lot of four-wheel driv­ers will tell you all these com­fort and con­ve­nience fea­tures are un­nec­es­sary and just some­thing else that could wrong in the bush, and when I’m driv­ing my old Land Cruiser I tend to agree with them. But it’s a case of ‘you won’t miss them un­til you’ve had them’, and I find I want those fea­tures again when get­ting out of the fully equipped Pa­trol and into lower spec 4x4s. You might scoff at heated leather seats, but how many of you would buy a new ve­hi­cle with­out air-con­di­tion­ing or power win­dows? You won’t miss them un­til you’ve had them.

One fea­ture I’ve be­come ac­cus­tomed to – and one Nis­san hasn’t got right – is the voice recog­ni­tion soft­ware for us­ing the phone. I spend a lot of time in cars, and hav­ing an easy-to-use Blue­tooth phone sys­tem is es­sen­tial and made even bet­ter (and safer) with voice-com­mand di­alling. But the Pa­trol’s sys­tem never works. It never gets the mes­sage and I end up scream­ing at it in frus­tra­tion – it’s lucky the unit is in­te­grated into the dash, be­cause I would have thrown it out the win­dow a long time ago. I reckon it must be a Ja­panese thing, as the voice com­mand in every Toy­ota 4x4 I’ve driven is equally as use­less and frus­trat­ing. Un­like the sys­tems in the Ford Ever­est and Ranger, Jeeps, and most re­cently the Mercedes-benz X-class, which all work


very well, al­low­ing safer use of the phone while driv­ing.

Driv­ing to Ade­laide was also the first time we’d done some se­ri­ous high­way miles with the Toyo Open Coun­try R/T tyres fit­ted, as well as the Iron­man roof rack and ac­ces­sories mounted up top. The car de­vel­oped a wind noise that seemed to be com­ing from up top, which was strange as noth­ing up there had changed or moved since the High Coun­try trip. I spent the first six hours of the drive try­ing to pin the an­noy­ing whis­tle down – stop­ping and ad­just­ing the light bar, mov­ing the awning and play­ing with the rack it­self, but to no avail. It was only when the cli­mate con­trol switched from re-circ to fresh and the note of the whis­tle changed that it twigged it was some­thing else. Open­ing and clos­ing each of the win­dows changed the tune again and re­vealed that the pas­sen­ger rear win­dow was cracked a mil­lime­tre in­side the rub­ber, and that was where the whis­tle was com­ing from. It was such a re­lief to get back to the quiet cabin which re­mains rat­tle-free, even af­ter its re­cent bush bash­ing.

The Toyo R/TS are also quiet on the road, but, along with the roof rack, they didn’t help with fuel con­sump­tion. The Pa­trol slurped 14.31 litres of PULP on its in­ter­state trip. Not too bad, re­ally, when just sit­ting on the speed limit on the high­way.

The Pa­trol rides on Toyo Open Coun­try R/TS, and these have proven quiet on the road.

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