Review: 2021 Nissan Navara

Posted by Motorama in Vehicle Reviews
The Nissan Navara has just received its biggest update since 2015 and not only looks different, but also got some well deserved advanced safety features. Let's take the 2021 model for a spin!

Initial Impression

The new Navara comes with a style upgrade that brings it onto the same playing field as its competitors who have all gone through major upgrades. The Navara arguably looks the most aggressive, amongst a crowd that is trying to out-macho the others.

Inside, the top-spec ST-X steps it up from the range with sunroof, power sliding rear window, leather seats and steering wheel, a 7” touch screen sat-nav multimedia display, push button start and Advanced Drive Assist™ in the instrument cluster. The Navara shows its workhorse roots, though, by avoiding extending the leather to the steering wheel, as well as no vanity mirror in the sunshade for the driver.​

Driveability

The drivetrain in the new Nissan Navara is the same as the outgoing model, but there's nothing wrong with that as it's a tried and tested engine that works exceptionally well. The optional seven-speed auto is smooth, and adds to the appeal for driver’s looking for an easier option around town. The standard six-speed manual would be best for those looking to head off road, although both units are refined that there’s little to no difference. Besides, the auto comes with a sports-manual mode if you really want to change gears yourself.

The 2.3L Twin Turbo Diesel, one of two engine choices across the Navara range, can pull the big rig at speed, bearing in mind that the Navara weighs just south of 3-tonnes.

On the highway, the steering could use a little sharpening, where it can get a little vague, especially without a load in the back. But the Navara’s strengths lies in it’s ability to go anywhere at anytime. Thanks to electronically lockable rear differential, shift on-the-fly range selector and with an approach angle of 32.7º and a departure angle of 26.7º and just a hair under 23cm of ground clearance (thanks to the upgraded suspension), you can point it at just about anything and take a run at it.

Cornering is pretty precise, there’s certainly no skittishness or heavy lean to one side that you would find in a ute as large as the Navara. And generally, driving dynamics are pretty good. Heavy braking doesn’t cause the front to dive when in two-wheel drive, and the suspension is well tuned to soak up bumps, while not being overly soft so as to be soggy on the road. There’s not much in the way of active driver’s assist technology, but in the background, there’s a range of safety technology (including Vehicle Dynamic control with brake limited slip differential, electronic braking and traction control) to keep the Navara from getting into trouble.


Liveability

Need a ute for work, casual off-roading or towing on the weekend? The Navara ticks all the boxes. With a towing capacity of 3,500kg, the Nissan can pull pretty much anything you want to get from A to B. The tray is pretty spacious as well, with a 1.5m long loading area, with 1.1m between the wheel arches.

Nissan has recognised the need for comfort in a vehicle where people may be spending long stretches of time, or in between physical jobs (such as on the worksite, or digging out stranded drivers on off-road tracks) and have designed the cabin to minimise stress from driving. For example, all Navara models feature Spinal Support Front Seats to ‘promote a neutral seating position’, so that you’re focused on the road rather than on adjusting in your seat.

Sound deadening inside the cabin is excellent, with barely a whisper from the engine (just to tell you that it’s making the right noises) and hardly any road noise. Space for passengers is good at the front and – even though the rear seat suffers from a slightly raised floor – there’s a decent amount of room back there, and headroom especially is accommodating.

Apple Car Play and Android Auto are now also part of the standard package.

Fuel use is good; the twin-turbo manages to deliver single digit figures thanks to a slick design and efficient engine and drivetrain. Officially, Nissan says 7.3L/100km for the auto with a mix of highway and city driving, and if you’re doing long stretches, this is easily achievable, but around town you should expect something around 9.0L – which is still excellent at this end of town, given the size of the Navara and still slips in under competitors real world figures.

A 5-Star ANCAP rating is expected on dual cab models when it tested, and the case is certainly helped by seven airbags including front, side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee airbags, plus a host of passive safety controls including new generation Vehicle Dynamic Control with Brake Limited Slip Differential, Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Traction Control and Brake Assist.

Cost

The new Navara line-up has been streamlined, and now starts with the base model SL, available as a two-wheel drive cab chassis with a single turbo 2.3-litre diesel, starting from $33,890 drive-away. The Nissan Navara ST gains the LED headlights and tail-lights, alloy rather than steel wheels, and rear privacy glass, plus a few other features.

From the Nissan Navara ST and up, all models come with extra safety tech such as lane-keeping assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning and a 360-degree camera. The Nissan Navara ST is priced just over $50k drive-away for the manual and about $2500 more drive-away for the auto.

However, the Nissan Navara STX – priced around $60k drive-away – is likely to be the most popular variant as more buyers move upmarket. The flagship Pro-4X – is due in the coming months just over $62k drive-away.

Conclusion

The previous generation Navara’s survived for so long thanks to their simplicity and their sophistication relative to competitors. In trying to balance a mix of ruggedness and comfort, the new Navara comfortably sees those models off and leaves a durable, elegant new model for customers looking for a replacement. The new Navara comes at the perfect time as rusted-on competitor models are updated, revamped and overhauled left, right and centre. With a mix of safety, comfort and performance to replace the overwhelming top-spec of the old Navara, for those looking to step into a dual cab 4x4 ute that wouldn’t look out of place in the city, and excels out of it

Interested in a test drive? Motorama Nissan is the place to be - so make sure you come and see the Motorama Nissan team in Hillcrest .

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