What's the Best Road Trip SUV? We Put the New Nissan Terra to the Test
Summer is the perfect time for beach pics and out-of-town selfies. Road trips are always fun, too. That is, until your car gets stuck in mud and you find yourself screaming at your phone with no signal in the middle of nowhere.
But this is exactly what Nissan Philippines dared us to do at the Go Anywhere Drive in Legazpi, Albay, where we got our hands on its all-new SUV, the Nissan Terra.
Landing in Legazpi on an early Tuesday morning, we were welcomed by a gorgeous view of Mt. Mayon on the tarmac. Outside the airport, a fleet of shiny new Nissan Terras was waiting for us. Having never seen a Terra in person before, I thought the balance in design was striking: it’s not too high, too long, or too wide—it’s just right. Macho and pogi are words that come to mind.
As modern as it gets
Hopping in the backseat, I was greeted with very generous leg room which was definitely welcome as we headed off to Naga to test the Terra’s on-road attitude. Being in the top-spec VL variant, everything inside it was, well, top-spec. It has comfy leather seats, leather door accents, and more aircon vents than you can count. It’s 7-inch touchscreen looks more like a computer and can be a bit confusing at first. But hey, there’s Apple Carplay!
I rode with three other journalists, which means we had a gazillion gadgets. In this regard, Terra is certainly road trip-worthy as I counted three cigarette lighter sockets and two USB ports in the dash and center console. Naturally, we used all of them. At the same time.
At home on the road
How’s the ride for passengers, you ask? You’d be happy to know that this hulking SUV loves the highway. It’s not as stiff and bouncy as other SUVs in the segment, but it’s not too soft so you won’t feel like you’re on a boat. The “quietness” (NVH levels for car nuts) can be better though, as the engine noise often leaks into the cabin a bit too much.
After a few dozen kilometers, it was my turn to drive. The fully electronic driver’s seat was a neat surprise and allowed me to set my seat just right for my 6-foot frame. One minor negative though was the arm rest, which was a bit too far back for me. Or maybe I just have short arms.
The drive was comfortable and easy with the light but secure steering, and you won’t be left wanting more power thanks to its 2.5-liter YD25 DDTi diesel engine with 180 hp and 450 Nm of torque. Chasing the “fast and furious” drivers at the front of the convoy didn’t prove too difficult, as is passing tricycles and trucks every five minutes.
While driving at speed on our highly developed provincial roads (forgive the subtlety) is always challenging, it was a bit easier thanks to the Terra’s slew of safety features. The Terra is under the Nissan Intelligent Mobility platform, which is a fancy way of saying your car can be smarter than you at opportune times. An example would be Terra’s lane departure warning that gives off an alarm if you’re drifting outside of your own lane. Blind spot monitoring is also present.
After a quick lunch in Naga we headed back to Legazpi, taking a much longer but more scenic route. Again, the Terra handled everything like a champ, including sudden brakes to avoid road-crossing dogs, kids, and everything else you can expect on rural roads. The brake pedal does have a bit of a longer travel, but once it takes, you won’t be worried if it can stop the vehicle on time.
It was getting dark and we were getting a bit antsy when we arrived at our next stop. But what Nissan had prepared took our collective breaths away. I mean, look at this:
At the center of the sleep-inducing and super cozy lounge was the limited edition Fiery Red Nissan Terra, of which only 100 units will be produced. With Mayon as its background, the setup was meant to highlight the Terra’s importance to Nissan.
“Since the launch, Terra has contributed 12% of our sales, and our market share since August to December (2018) is about 14%-15% of the mid-size SUV segment,” said the beaming Ramesh Naramsihan, president and managing director of Nissan Philippines. “The Terra is a combination of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility and the legendary petrol heritage (of Nissan), and it has been really successful for us.”
Nissan promised an even more eventful second day, and the activities certainly lived up to it. We were divided into two groups, the first one was to drive ATVs to the base of Mayon while the other gets to test Terra’s off-road capabilities. I was with the first group, and just before lunchtime, we were within four kilometers of Mayon.
One hearty lunch later, the group switched activities and the Terra’s sensibilities seemingly switched as well. From a stable on-road steed, it turned to the go-anywhere workhorse Nissan has always meant it to be. It had the technology to do just that too, with on-the-fly 4-wheel drive shifting, hill start assist, hill descent control, and even an electronic locking rear differential (which is usually reserved for more hardcore 4x4 vehicles.)
What do all these mean? It means the Terra is one heck of a capable off-roader. We traversed trails, drove it through dry riverbeds and quarry sites, and none of it fazed the Terra one bit. Granted it wasn’t raining, but some of the drivers didn’t even bother to shift to 4-wheel drive and the Terra still hauled them through inclines and mud. The suspension toed the fine line of being stiff enough to tackle obstacles and soft enough to not give its occupants migraines. The Terra is really at home on off-the-beaten paths.
Nissan may be a bit late to the mid-size SUV market, but its patience is certainly represented well by the Terra. Fancy a beach outing or want a climbing expedition with your barkada? Terra, with its mix of reliable features and new technology, will certainly help you get there. #GoAnywhere isn’t just catchy tagline, after all.
Prices start at P1,499,000. For more info, visit www.nissan.ph