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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For It has a decent mix of on- and off-road abilities

Against It lacks image and its reliability is questionable

Verdict It's a decent enough family workhorse, but hardly outstanding

Go for… 2.7 TDi SE 5dr

Avoid… 2.4 S 3dr

Nissan Terrano 4x4
  • 1. It's not as reliable as other Nissans - the suspension is the weakest point, but check the engine and electrics, too
  • 2. It has a reasonable blend of on- and off-road ability, and makes a decent tow car
  • 3. The 2.7-litre diesel is the best engine. The 2.4-litre petrol is underpowered, and the 3.0-litre diesel too expensive
  • 4. It’s best to avoid the most basic models (LX and, from July ’96, S). Go for an SE instead
  • 5. Three-door versions are available, but give them a miss - the five-door is more spacious and smoother-riding
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Nissan Terrano 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The Terrano was one half of a joint venture between Nissan and Ford that also produced the original Ford Maverick. However, the Terrano has out-lived its Ford counterpart by several years.

Two very different versions of the car are available: a sporty three-door aimed at the fashion-conscious and the larger five-door, with a longer wheelbase, which makes a decent alternative to mainstream family car.

Overall, the Terrano makes most sense as a workhorse, as it’s not as trendy as rivals like the Toyota RAV4. The Nissan’s cabin lacks the class of a Land Rover Freelander’s, for example, but both versions have a decent amount of space inside.

True, it isn’t as sharp to drive as a Toyota RAV4 and it’s no Land Rover away from the Tarmac, but it does have a good, even blend of on- and off-road ability, and makes a decent tow car.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Crude but durable. 2.4 petrol cheap to buy but thirsty so best avoided

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Originally, the choice of engine was simply between a 2.4-litre petrol and a 2.7-litre turbodiesel, and it remained that way until April 2002, when a 3.0-litre turbodiesel was added.

The best engine is the stronger TDi version of the 2.7-litre engine, introduced in July 1996 and perfectly suited to the Terrano’s workhorse nature. The 2.4 petrol is cheaper to buy, but it just doesn’t have the pulling power of the 2.7, whereas the 3.0-litre comes only with the upper trims and remains very expensive.

Again, bearing in mind the car’s no-nonsense character, we think it works best as a five-door. Not only does it give you more space inside, it also rides more comfortably.

It’s best to avoid the most basic models (LX and, from July ’96, S) and look for an SE, introduced in ’96. SVE is the most lavish, with leather upholstery, but it’s not worth the expense.

Trade view

James Ruppert

2.7 diesel with Sport spec, prefer DI engine from ’02

James Ruppert
Used car guru

It isn’t cheap. Prices are on a par with the Land Rover Freelander’s, and higher than those for the Vauxhall Frontera.

Insurance costs are on the high side, too. Group ratings vary from 12 to 15, which is a little higher than those for a Freelander or Honda CR-V. The Honda is also a little cheaper to service, too.

To cap it all, fuel economy does the Terrano no favours, either. Its 2.4-litre petrol engine is thirstier than the 2.0-litre unit in the CR-V and the Freelander’s 1.8, while the 2.7 diesel is less economical than the RAV4’s 2.0-litre petrol engine, never mind its diesel.

However, Warranty Direct says that Nissan labour rates are among the lowest, and that the average cost of repairs to the Terrano are similar to those for other off-roaders.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Crude but durable. 2.4 petrol cheap to buy but thirsty so best avoided

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

There have been three recalls, of which the two most serious concerned the brakes. The first affected almost 5000 cars built between 1995 and 1997, and the second related to 840 cars built in the eight months from July 2001.

More surprisingly, the Terrano is unlike most other Nissans in that it isn’t all that reliable - worse than average, according to Warranty Direct. The company says that the Terrano’s weakest point is its suspension, although the brakes, electrics and engines can also develop problems.

It also warns that towing can strain the transmission, causing damage that is expensive to put right. And, as with any car that could have been abused off-road, check for any damage before you buy.

Trade view

James Ruppert

2.7 diesel with Sport spec, prefer DI engine from ’02

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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