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It’s hard to imagine that just under a decade ago, Nissan was perhaps an ailing Japanese patient of the automotive industry that was selling its products based solely on the strength of its name, built on past glories long gone. Today, under the direct stewardship of Nissan Motors Limited (Japan), the brand has soared to new heights, launching one blockbuster hit after another. This year alone saw the launch of the heavily refreshed Navara, the electric Leaf EV, the equally rejuvenated Terra 7-seat SUV and the Almera subcompact sedan.

As with all Nissans, the latest Terra is packed to the brim with features, drives like a dream and is as safe as they get, undercutting its key rivals spec for spec and seemingly unaffected by the semi-conductor/microchip shortage plaguing many of the industry competitors at the moment. This ready stock should allow Nissan to capitalize on its strengths, bringing their units to a market long dormant but more than willing to spend now that signs of an economic recovery is upon us.

Launched last Sept. 1, the heavily refreshed Terra soldiers on with a new fascia and a gorgeous interior. It still has the same 2.5 liter CRDi turbocharged diesel engine codenamed YD25DDTI, producing a very ample 188 hp and 450 Newton-Meters of torque via a 7-speed automatic transmission that can drive all four wheels with a knob selector, and also delivering a respectable 450 millimeters wading depth should the Terra need to park in flooded waters, and 800mm if the Terra will be crossing bodies of water without stopping. It also has a small 5.7 meter turning radius making it surprisingly maneuverable in tight city streets, and when off-roading or overloading on tight trails. The 225mm minimum ground clearance helps here too.

As with any modern Nissan, the Terra is packed with safety and convenience features: forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, around-view / 360-degree monitor which has an off-road mode for rock-crawling on dangerous ground, a 9-inch Touchscreen monitor with wireless and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto playing through an8-speaker BOSE Premium surround sound system and wireless charging. Of course, the Terra has six airbags, ABS-EBD brakes with emergency brake assist, rear cross traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring sensor, blind spot warning, rain-sensing wipers and more. At the risk of reading like a brochure, let’s say there is just so much features for you to discover once you try out the Terra.

Slide into the Zero Gravity Seats which Nissan touts is the closest thing to floating while driving (it does feel very comfortable)), step on the brake pedal, slot in your seatbelt, press the engine START/STOP button, and the engine breathes to life. Nissan has worked hard to bring down NVH levels, and the YD25DDTI is noticeably more quiet inside the cabin. Interior space is excellent with the red terra cotta leather insert on the dash and on the door cards help give a bold, sophisticated atmosphere lacking in all of Nissan’s competitors. Combined with the black leather seats and the faux aluminum interior accents, the Terra feels somber and serious enough for the most conservative of drivers too. Adjust the 12-way driver’s seat, find a comfortable angle for the steering column and drive off. Nissan could have included a reach or telescopic adjustment for the Terra’s steering wheel, making it a more car-like driving experience but otherwise, it’s all good. The flat-bottom is a good touch too: a nod to motorsports but also gives extra clearance for plump people with big thighs when getting in the car.

The steering effort is on the heavy side but still more than manageable, the ride is excellent on its 18-inch directional six-spoke wheels and 255/60R18 Bridgestone Dueler HT tires; swap in some aggressive 50/50 true all-terrains and the Terra’s off-road ability improves further. There’s a fair amount of body roll through fast corners, and a bit of movement when I took it to my impromptu short off-road course, but still better than its key competitors.

Throttle is very progressive, and power is more than plenty. It doesn’t deliver a sudden surge of power but meters it out well, allowing you to drive it much more smoothly with a seemingly endless surge of power and torque. Of course, the 4-wheel disc brakes are more than a match for the power, delivering fade-free, equally progressive and well-modulated feel while competitors make do with drum brakes at the back.  

Best of all, the era comes with Nissan’s 5-year/150,000 kilometers warranty, with four variants ranging from P1.649 million for the 4X2 EL M/T to this, the range-topping VL 4X4 A/T for P2.339 million undercutting many of its key rivals.

A very competitive price, an impressive spec sheet to match its equally impressive driving dynamics and an industry-leading warranty. With Nissan focusing on customer experience rather than volume for the remainder of the year according to Nissan Pilipinas Inc. president Atsushi Najima, the latest Terra has what it takes to challenge for the top spot in the SUV segment.            

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