As Nissan took its monocoque R50 Pathfinder/Terrano upmarket, that left its lineup without an affordable ladder-frame 4x4, so Nissan Australia began to import the Nissan Terrano II in 1997. It was based on the Navaro chassis that underpinned the previous generation Pathfinder/Terrano, and it offered the same engines, as well: a 2.4-litre petrol or 2.7-litre diesel. Where it differed from the Pathfinder was in the bodywork and packaging. Its tall body was penned by the Italian firm I.DE.A Institute, which was also responsible for the TATA Nano, sometimes referred to as the world's cheapest car.
The Italians tried to give Nissan's bargain bush-mobile some flair by affixing a bonnet scoop for the TDI's intercooler, and some models also got a more upscale-looking front end that had square lights and a chrome grille.
The interior of the Nissan Terrano II is functional, but not particularly stylish. The Nissan Terrano II provides a tall driving position and plenty of windows for visibility. There are three rows of seats, though the back row occupants may feel a little cramped. While the Nissan Terrano II may not compete as a luxury off roader, as evidenced by the fact that an automatic transmission is not available, it is a good basic off roader with plenty of storage compartments throughout the cabin.
If you encounter a rough track, the automatic free-wheeling front hubs can be activated at speeds up to 40km/h with the floor mounted selector lever. However, if you require 4-wheel drive, you will have to bring the Terrano to a complete stop. Once engaged, you will find that the diesel models have more than enough torque to muscle the big wagon over a myriad of obstacles. Approach and departure angles, along with suspension travel, are first rate.
With either engine, the Nissan Terrano II is not what you would consider quick. It is rather economical in its diesel guise, however. Thanks to standard front/rear anti-roll bars, it has rather decent on-road manners, too. You just have to be mindful of its high centre of gravity when making a turn.
The Nissan Terrano II came with either petrol or diesel engines. The petrol engine was a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder, with a single overhead camshaft and an aluminium head. It produced 105kW at 5,600rpm, and 206Nm of torque at 4,400rpm. This engine was used in the previous Pathfinder/Terrano as well as in the Navaro truck. But, in an off-roader that weighs in at nearly 2000kg, the engine can feel underpowered.
The 2.7-litre diesel engine, which came with a turbo and an intercooler, fed through that prominent scoop on the bonnet. Power output was 109kW, with a more useful 242Nm available at just 2,400rpm. Although this motor does not make the chunky Nissan Terrano II any quicker, buyers will appreciate the additional torque when crawling along a rough track.
The Nissan Terrano II comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, and the gearing will differ based on the engine you get.
In Australia, the Nissan Terrano II came in base RX trim or top-spec Ti. Both could be had with either petrol power or diesel, and all came with part-time 4-wheel drive. Seven-passenger seating was available, and the third-row seat could be removed to increase cargo volume.
The Nissan Terrano II RX was pretty basic, but the Nissan Terrano II Ti could be had with dual-tone paint, alloy wheels, upgraded upholstery, side steps, brush guards, and many other features. All Nissan Terrano II's came standard with an anti-theft system that would sound an alarm if a thief tried to remove the radio.
Back in the late-90's, if you wanted a big 7-seat wagon with actual off-road capability, then a Land Rover Discovery would have been the obvious choice. But if price was a concern, something like the Nissan Terrano II or a Holden Jackaroo filled the bill nicely.
The Holden offered nearly the same seating and cargo capacity as the Terrano II, and it had a more powerful range of engines, as well. However, Nissan's big 4x4 wagon is much cheaper on the used market, and it is every bit as reliable. If you want a bargain-priced 7-seat 4x4 wagon, a Nissan Terrano II deserves a closer inspection.