Nissan’s 4WD Vehicles – 65 Years of Historic Journey

After a challenging journey full of obstacles, Nissan has now established a prestigious legacy in the field of 4x4 drivetrains. Through years of research, Nissan has developed cutting-edge technical secrets and world-class technologies, propelling the brand from its early Jeep-inspired models in the 1950s to the bold and powerful vehicles we see today. Let's take a moment to review Nissan's renowned legacy in the SUV segment and explore the history of iconic representatives such as the Patrol, Murano, Pathfinder, Qashqai, X-Trail, and Juke through the following information.


The beginning of development

Since 1951, in Japan, Nissan has been developing a 2WD system with the prototype 4W60, leading to the first legendary Patrol model. Inspired by the specialized features of military vehicles, Nissan created a 2WD model with a similar design to the American-style Willys Jeep, but with superior power and strength. Initially, the prototype 4W61 had horizontal bars instead of a grille, split windshields, and front seats with the same size.

Nissan Patrol 4W60.Nissan Patrol 4W60.

Just four years later, the new and upgraded version of Patrol was born – the 4W61 model, equipped with a new engine. The basic structure of this version is similar to the 4W60 version but with additional chrome details that were only provided for a short time in 1951, opening up completely new possibilities. Firstly, the 4W61 model was equipped with five horizontal bars similar to the grille, in which the second and fourth bars were chrome-plated, the bonnet was designed to be much higher, and the windshields were single-piece and the driver’s space was narrower.

Nissan Patrol 4W61

Contemporary inspiration

The next version in this product line is the 4W65 Patrol, introduced in 1959. The three rounded shock protection bars, the flat front bonnet design, and the chrome-plated five horizontal bars help the latest Patrol version have a more modern appearance.

In the 1960s, the Patrol continued to improve with a departure from the Jeep style, replaced by a personality look. The three shock protection bars are attached to the vehicle body, while the front is wide and the rear is narrow, giving the Patrol a strong and majestic image.

Nissan Patrol 4W65

New concept

Nissan continued to develop the 2WD system by introducing a pickup concept in 1968, but it wasn’t until 1980 that Nissan truly introduced a new concept with the arrival of the Terrano. With a spacious luggage compartment, increased cabin space for passengers, and a modern and stylish exterior, the Terrano can meet the growing demand of consumers for SUVs.

In 1988, the modernization trend led Nissan to continue improving the Patrol GR version with a central locking system, power windows, headlights, wipers, and separate air conditioning for front and rear seats. The off-road capability of the vehicle was also enhanced with a low-range gear and a full-time 2WD system.

Ten years later, in 1998, Nissan focused on developing safety features for the 98 model of Patrol, including an ABS system, airbags, front and rear stabilizers – these are safety features that all modern drivers recognize.

Nissan Patrol

Other representatives

Today, the 2WD vehicles in Nissan’s SUV heritage still maintain the essence of a traditional dedicated vehicle, but continue to be refined and improved to conquer terrains, with representative models such as Murano, X-Trail, Pathfinder, Rogue, Qashqai, NP300 Navara, and Juke.

Nissan MuranoNissan Murano

Nissan PathfinderNissan Pathfinder

Nissan QashqaiNissan Qashqai

Nissan X-trailNissan X-Trail

Nissan JukeNissan Juke

The latest improvement in this Nissan vehicle line is the intelligent all-wheel-drive mode (ALL MODE 4x4i®) with a 2WD electronic control system that can predict wheel slip and instantly distribute steering force to the front and rear axles.

Normally, for front-wheel-drive vehicles, in AUTO mode, the rear axle is activated when the front wheels start to slip, and power is variably distributed from the front to the rear. In AUTO mode, the system operates as an automatic full-time 2WD system.

In 1WD mode (2WD), the clutch is regularly unlocked. However, even in 1WD mode, the rear wheels can sometimes be activated by the electronic control unit, for example, in the case of strong acceleration.

In LOCK mode, the clutch is completely locked – power is evenly distributed 50:50. If the vehicle’s speed increases, it will automatically switch to AUTO mode, and if the speed decreases, it will switch back to LOCK mode. When the clutch oil becomes too hot, the vehicle will automatically switch to 1WD mode.

Today, the development of Nissan’s SUV heritage continues with relentless improvements, contributing to the overall development of the global automotive industry, and the most notable representatives of this vehicle line are the Murano, Pathfinder, Qashqai, X-Trail, and Juke.

Duc Hai (TTTD)