2023 Nissan Terra Sport VL 4×4 – Definitely attractive, but does it just meet or exceed all expectations?

The Nissan Terra was always an SUV that I’ve been attracted to. The Terra Sport that you see here, based on the top-of-the-line VL 4×4 variant, is the 2023 year model’s “special” edition. Until now, I’ve always been drawn to the Terra; both the previous and current generation look much better than its competitors, and that ride quality, wow! That said, not limiting ourselves to just how comfortable it is, expectations will be high as far as features and knick-knacks go, right? We’ll see just how the Sport fares in meeting expectations in this review, so let’s get right to it.

Does the top-of-the-line-based Terra Sport VL 4×4 bring top-spec features, as should be expected?

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Inline 01 Min

I’ll be honest and say that since the Terra Sport was first introduced this past February, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It’s been a long while since I last drove and reviewed a Terra, both of which were the VL trim and in 4×2 and 4×4 configurations. I was expecting a lot given the remarkable experience I had with both, so yes, I was excited. After a week with it, here’s what I think.

Let’s start with the exterior. This being the new model, the Terra Sport is distinguishable amongst its non-Sport siblings by black pieces and a lot of it. Up front, the massive grill has been (piano) blacked out but still retains the horizontally-slatted design, the foglight housings also get murdered out, and the “lip” piece is also, you guessed it, black. Oh, and the headlight assemblies? Yup, smoked/blacked-out, too, like the rest of the Terra lineup.

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Inline 02 Min

By this time you’ve most likely already figured out that “Sport” equates to “black”, and that is evident on the side as well. The side mirror housings, 18″ alloy wheels (glossy finish, by the way), door handles, sharkfin antenna, and even the roof rails all stick to the motif. You’ll notice that decorative piece on the fender(s), too.

Personally, I think it’s an unnecessary piece on the Terra Sport. Heck, I’m really not much for pieces like this at all, but looking at it, I began to see that such a subtle addition makes for a more cohesive look overall when looking at the side. In the end, I think it belongs on the Sport and did not become a gaudy slap-/clip-on.

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Inline 08 Min

As for the rear, yes, more black. The rear bumper skirt – devoid of a rear foglight – and the tailgate frame for the Nissan and stylized TERRA badges are also finished in black. This does a lot of good to round up a younger and more aggressive vibe for the Terra Sport. The non-Sport variants have this bit finished in shiny chrome, and while everyone’s preferences will differ, mine leans towards something like this all day, any day. Lastly, the blacked-out pieces also include the wing atop the tailgate. Mainly a decorative piece, I think the Terra in any variant looks bare without the said wing, and since this is the Sport, it looks a lot better.

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Inline 03 Min

Inside, you get more of the motif and a whole lot of it.

In the non-Sport variants, the Terra’s interior is adorned with a burgundy-colored dashboard accent, door card pieces, and armrest lid. Those have all been done away with in the Terra Sport. The red shade was quite loud, in my opinion, and the choice to black it all out makes for a more elegant feel in the cabin. The design on the black leather upholstery has yet to grow on me, though.

One thing missing, though, is the presence of the brushed aluminum (but actually plastic) accent pieces on the door sidings. I mentioned “elegant”, but if Nissan decided to retain these, That would make for a nice compliment to the same brushed pieces on the steering wheel and shift knob. Such pieces with the same finish would’ve looked good as air conditioning vent frames, too, if you ask me. While I like the abundance of black, a “break” would be nice.

Overall, though, I maintain that this motif is still better, more mature, and classier than the red one. Lovers of the burgundy color, forgive me. And with that, let’s move past the aesthetics and move on to the more practical observations.

Other notable incisions in the Terra Sport are a 7″ high-contrast Advanced Drive Assist Display, AKA a multi-information display in the middle of an analog gauge cluster, a 9-inch infotainment screen that comes with wireless Apple CarPlay, (wired) Android Auto, a wireless charging pad, USB-3 and USB-C ports, a ceiling mounted monitor, rear and ceiling AC vents, and a premium 8-speaker Bose system.

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Inline 04 Min

In the past, I raved about how great the ride quality of the Terra is. The Terra Sport is no different. Nissan has a winning formula down pat with this SUV and it’s only carried over into this new model. I’ll talk about the suspension and describe the ride quality later on, but as far as the interior and the seats go, the magic is in Zero Gravity Seats.

The technology that Nissan developed to properly and fully support those sitting on their Zero Gravity Seats is fantastic. I’m a pretty hefty guy – okay, fine, I am heavy – and all that weight could contribute to cushions sagging, but not in this Terra Sport. Support and comfort are top-notch and I would go out on a limb to say that this is the bar for seat comfort.

Legroom and headroom are abundant in the front seats, too, and that adds to the comfort value of the Terra Sport. One minor quip I have, though, is the height at which one can rest his or her elbows on the door sidings. I think it’s a bit too high; maybe it’s just because of my driving position(ing), but elbow room might be something I’ll nitpick about.

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Inline 05 Min

The rear seats of the Terra Sport are also as comfortable. Padding and cushioning are much more than adequate, and you don’t feel any sharp frame pieces on the seat given that it has a slider underneath, and that’s a very good thing. Space is enough for three individuals, but I would advise having someone of a, err, smaller frame, take the middle seat of the second row. The seats on either side of the Terra Sport’s 2nd row are wide enough, but should you have someone of an adult size sit in between, the thigh and shoulder room will take a hit.

As comfortable as they are, there is one glaring thing that I noticed, and that is the lack of lateral (thigh) support and back bolstering in the 2nd row. While you’re not expected to slip and slide in the Terra Sport, passengers in the middle row could, given a sudden and sharp turn. I confess that this might be another nitpick, but some added support would go a long way, not just for comfort, but for safety, too.

Regardless, both the front and 2nd row provide great comfort to passengers.

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Inline 06 Min

Now we move to the third row. The Terra Sport is a 7-seater, after all, and the third row does have two extra seats stowed away. Whether it’s a 7-seater MPV or SUV that I’m reviewing, I maintain that this row be reserved for children, given the limited knee and leg room that it provides for taller, bigger adults. The middle row of the Sport slides forward and aft, though, and that does afford 3rd-row passengers a little bit more room. For short-distance travels, that should be fine but don’t expect a grown individual to profess love for you for sticking him or her in the last row for a long time.

Noticeably, the cushioning of the 3rd-row seats is a bit harder on the back and bum, and that should be expected. Like the middle row, you’ll be left wanting in the bolstering department in the back row, but it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for anyone considering the Terra, though. Besides, let’s be honest, we don’t really see many owners use the last row on a regular basis, even if it is a Terra Sport, right?

Lastly, with the 3rd row stowed, you have space aplenty for all your cargo. Forward, horizontal, and vertical space are very abundant in the Terra Sport’s trunk, and it’s at par with the rest of its competitors in the segment. The best part is that its 3rd row folds the flattest among the bunch, too, so that extra little bit of space will make for a lot more should you have a lot of things to bring.

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Gallery 06 Min

Now, on to the ride quality and performance of the Terra Sport.

You may have noticed the abundance of my mentioning the comfort and ride quality of the Terra Sport, and that really does come with good reason. Yes, you’ll still get some wallow and a few (very few) creaks here and there when going over a rough patch of road because it still is an SUV, but there’s not much of it. We have to credit the coil spring and stabilizer bar setup for both the front and rear suspension for this, for sure.

It is an amazing truck, seats and suspension-wise, and it does not feel like an SUV at all. Even after a long drive, you won’t have to count teeth that have been rattled out or have to buy a pack of Salonpas at a gas station convenience store to alleviate any back or joint pain. The Terra Sport simply brings it as far as comfort goes.

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Inline 07 Min

As for power delivery, the Terra Sport has a potent 2.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled CRDi engine mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. This being the 4×4 variety, it also comes with Part-Time 4WD (2H/4H/4L) and can shift On-The-Fly, as well as an Electronic Locking Rear Differential. We weren’t able to go hardcore with the 4×4, but “crawling” past mud and rock hills on vacant lots made the suspension wallow more, but that’s expected if you’re taking to the beaten path.

The engine, though, is loud and quite thirsty. Granted, I have to deal with horrendous morning traffic along Commonwealth and Katipunan, but with an 8.5 km/L at-best consumption, that’s a bit of a guzzler compared to other SUVs that I’ve driven. Given lighter and more “normal” traffic, that easily goes up to about 9.2 or even 9.5, but even if you call me a stickler, a 9.9-10 km/L reading with other trucks is significantly more frugal compared to the Terra Sport.

I may be able to contribute this to my observation that the Terra Sport loved hovering in the 2,200-2,900 rpm band before kicking a gear up. That, and shifting up is slow, generally speaking, could be part of this fuel consumption reading.

What the Terra Sport has going for it, despite its thirst, though, is the fact that the power and torque are very, very good. At a mere 2,000 rpm, you get 450 Nm of pull and the working up to the full (or approximately) 190 HP is easy peasy from there. Overtaking, a bit of a burst, you are not left wanting with the Terra Sport, especially on open stretches.

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Gallery 05 Min

The Sport comes with a whole lot of other features as well, and that includes the full Nissan Intelligent Mobility Suite. From safety to convenience features, Nissan has you covered in the Terra Sport since it comes with this pretty long list: Intelligent Around View Monitor (IAVM), Intelligent Rearview Mirror (IRVM), Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (IFCW), Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB, and I’ll mention something about this later), and Intelligent Driver Alertness monitor. Intelligence, yup, the Terra Sport is pretty darned smart.

There’s also the inclusion of Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control (HDC), Advanced Drive Assist Display, and even a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Chockful of goodies, right?

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Inline 09 Min

We’re almost at a verdict, an answer to the question I posed in this Review’s headline. Here are some things that helped me get to a conclusion.

Again, this Terra Sport is based on the range-topping VL 4×4 variant. If you are to compare other top-of-the-line variants, the features are almost all the same across brands. But there are a few things that I did look for in the Terra Sport; small things, but ones that you’d come to expect from a TOTL like auto up and down toggles for all windows, an automatic tailgate possibly with a foot sensor, and a telescopic steering column. These features, the Terra Sport does not have.

With a price tag of PHP 2,459,000, these small things should come standard, right? Vehicles of smaller proportions and smaller segments already have these, so it comes as a surprise that they don’t in the Terra Sport. There’s a lower-priced 4×2 variant of the Sport, and no, these aren’t found in that variant either.

So again, the question is, does the Terra Sport simply meet, or does it exceed expectations, expectations that anyone would normally have for a top-of-the-line model with the highest price cost? My answer is yes, it meets expectations, but “exceeds”? The Terra Sport misses that by a little less than a hair. Allow me to explain.

All the standard features, all of the beauty in the design, all the power and brute force, all the comfort and safety tech that already comes with the Terra Sport do make it worth it. Still. On paper, any vehicle that costs close to PHP 2.5M makes for a lot, but judging the package as a whole, my mentioning of these missing features can simply be nitpicking in the greater scheme of things.

You still do get a whole lot of value with the Nissan Terra Sport VL 4×4, there is no question about that. And if these nitpick points are things you can live without, then truly, this is an SUV that deserves your coin.

More photos of the 2023 Nissan Terra Sport VL 4×4

2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Gallery 01 Min 2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Gallery 02 Min 2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Gallery 03 Min 2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Gallery 04 Min  2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Gallery 08 Min  2023 Nissan Terra Sport 4x4 Vl Review Gallery 07 Min

Mikko Juangco
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