The Nissan Navara has always been popular in Australia. So much so, the last two generations carried the torch as Nissan’s ute model for nearly two decades combined.
We took the new Navara out on the road, to see how it fares in a new world where utes have to do more than just a tradies duties.
The Navara of old came from a time where utes didn’t have to be anything other than durable enough to make it through a days work. However, the new model comes when the trend is toward making utes fit for family duties, making them much more versatile than just the farm and worksite they traditionally call home.
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.
Our test ST-X 4x4 dual cab from Motorama Nissan comes with a few optional extras on the Cosmic Black body, including fog lights, hard tonneau cover and matte black bull bar that gives it an even more aggressive look on the road.
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.
Starting the Navara for the first time will be daunting as large as it is, but once you come to terms with the Navara’s bulk; it’s surprisingly nimble. 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.
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. The ST-X also features an 8-way power adjustable drivers seat with power lumbar support, so it’s really more of a throne while you play king or queen of the road.
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 from the 18” alloys standard on the ST-X.
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.
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 7.0L/100km for the auto ST-X 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. The manual Navara’s are even better, with the 4x2 diesel manual models claiming a class-leading 6.3L/100km.
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.
Parking can be a little hairy in the Navara, if only from a visibility standpoint. The around view monitor providing a 360-degree birds eye view helps a lot though.
Overall, the Navara gives a stylish option for owners of the previous model looking to step up to something new and comes just at the right time to bring a gun to the knife fight in the consistently strong light commercial segment.
The previous Navara came to market with very few serious competitors, but now everyone wants a slice of the pie of customers looking for a heavy duty ute that looks equally at home off-road as it does on the black top.
Nissan has priced accordingly, delivering a full range of 4x2 and 4x4 models (initially as dual-cab models only, but with other cabin configured models on the way.)
The current dual-cab range starts with the 4x2 turbo diesel manual and rising through grades, finishing at the top-spec ST-X 4x4 Diesel automatic.
Premium paint, and Genuine Accessories are available at additional cost.
myNissan service certainty covers the Navara for it's first six years (or 120,000km) scheduled services.
The previous generation Navara’s survived for so long thanks to their simplicity (in the case of the D22) and their sophistication relative to competitors (in the D40). 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, the ST-X is the perfect model 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.
Contact Motorama Nissan to test drive the new Navara, and see what the ST-X has to offer.