Going on roadtrips is probably one of my favorite pleasures.
Not only do you get to sightsee while on your way to your destination, you also get to test if your vehicle is up to the task. From covering hundreds of kilometers, to carrying plenty of cargo, as well as enduring rough roads, roadtrips are both fun and challenging for both driver and machine.
But there was one vehicle that I always wanted to try going on a long roadtrip: the Nissan Terra. Launched back in May 2018, it was Nissan's stab at the lucrative seven-seater pickup-platform vehicle (PPV). While relatively late to the party, it set itself apart with its suite of Nissan Intelligent Mobility features, and the more forgiving ride from the Navara pick-up.
So when Nissan invited us for a 3-day ride-and-drive with the Terra in Bicol, I jumped on the chance to finally take it on a long roadtrip in Southern Luzon, not to mention get to see Mt. Mayon up close. Our journey began in Legazpi City Airport where we were greeted by a platoon of Terras. With over 220 km of road waiting for us, we were more than eager to get things moving.
This was not my first rodeo with the Nissan Terra as I was able to drive it last year on Pampanga's famous lahar beds. For this year's drive, however, it will be a round-trip from Naga City then back to Legazpi City. With long stretches of road ahead of us, including a nice scenic route on the way back, I was looking forward to checking out how the Terra will perform.
For the first part of the trip, I was riding in the backseat. It has already been quite a while since I sat in one so this was a nice refresher to see how comfortable it was. While I was already impressed with its ride quality from before, we only got to test it along smooth highways and on lahar beds. This time, we got to test it on a mix of asphalt, rough concrete, as well as some off-roading which we got to do during the second day of the trip.
Like the Navara, the Terra rode through bumpy roads and pock-marked streets with ease. The multi-link and coil spring setup at the back was nicely tuned, including the dampers. But does having a soft ride meant the Terra was wallowy? Not so much as it kept its composure throughout the long drive. During heavy braking, however, the nose of the Terra tends to dive. Hopefully, Nissan can do something about that.
Having sat in the back of the Terra for about an hour and a half, it was now my turn to drive. As I climbed on to the driver's seat, I was pleasantly surprised by the car-like feel. Much like the Navara (from which the Terra is based on), the seating position on this SUV isn't so truck-ish. Every control is within easy reach while a commanding driving position means one can see out of the Terra with ease.
From testing its ride comfort, it was now time to check out the 2.5-liter turbo-diesel engine of the Terra once more. With 190 PS, 450 Nm of torque, and a seven-speed automatic transmission, this truck had no trouble whatsoever covering ground, as well as overtaking slower cars. Put your foot to the floor and gobs of power are immediately sent to the wheels. The transmission does come with manual select but since it was doing a nice job of going about its business, I left the transmission to D most of the time.
We finally arrived in Naga City to have lunch after nearly two hours on the road. Despite enduring several hours behind the wheel, I didn't feel tired or exhausted. The soft suspension, as well as the powerful turbo-diesel engine, meant it can overtake other cars on the road with ease, while still delivering a lofty ride no matter how things get rough.
After getting some much-needed sustenance and rest, it was time to get back on the road. I volunteered to get behind the wheel of the Terra again because I was curious as to how it would fair on some twisty roads. Instead of taking the fastest route back to Legazpi City, Nissan opted to go for a scenic route via the Bicol 630 coastal road.
Yes, the Terra is not exactly the type of vehicle you'd want to carve roads with but it was able to hold its own when we finally reached the coast. Turn after turn the Terra remained planted on the pavement and was a joy to drive through the bends. Yes, there is some body roll but what do you expect from a high-riding SUV? Also impressive was its steering, which was precise. Perhaps the only thing that needs improvement on the Terra's steering is its lack of feedback.
We arrived back in Legazpi City after about 3 hours. Despite the longer travel time, I thoroughly enjoyed driving the Terra through Bicol. But after driving for nearly half a day, we needed to get some rest in order to get ready for some off-roading the following day.
Rising up early for our second day of activities, it was now time to check out the Terra's 4x4 capability in and around Mt. Mayon. Having already gotten experience from last year, I was quite confident that the Terra will make short work of the terrain that laid ahead. We first set off in 2WD and were instructed to only switch to 4WD-High or -Low when told to do so by our drive master, Georges.
To be honest I was expecting to have the Terra set to 4WD most of the time. But surprisingly, the Terra was able to carry on forward in just 2WD. It was only on some tricky terrains like soft dirt roads, lahar fields, and steep rocky hils that we had to engage 4WD. Speaking of rocky terrain, the Terra kept its composure throughout the ordeal.
The ride remained soft despite the abundance of rocks, gravel and dirt roads. Going down hills also proved to be easy thanks to hill-descent control (HDC). Available only on the top-of-the-line 4x4 VL, HDC automatically applies the brakes for you whenever the system senses the vehicle is on a downhill incline. Not only does it make things easy for the driver, it also keeps the driver focused on pointing the car in the right direction.
But perhaps the best feature to have on the Terra while going off the beaten path is its suite of Intelligent Mobility Features. Thanks to a wide array of cameras and sensors all around, the Terra has a 360-degree around-view monitor system that serves as its extra pair of eyes and ears. Even without a spotter, we were able to easily navigate through narrow paths, blind corners, and even across some river crossings and streams.
What's more, is that Nissan recently updated the AVM system. Instead of just seeing the AVM through the rear-view mirror, the system also uses the main touchscreen for a better and bigger display.
After already proving itself during last year's first drive in Pampanga, did the Nissan Terra outperform itself? Yes, indeed. Not only did it show it can walk the fine line between on-road and off-road once more, the Terra also delivered when it came to overall comfort, as well as in performance.
Then there are the features which demonstrated their usefulness anew in every day driving. No longer do you have to guess how far you are from debris or obstacles, or how near your Terra is parked next to another vehicle, even.
Today's SUVs, like the Nissan Terra, really have come a long way from just being taller wagons with 4x4.