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Nissan Navara first drive and tow review

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    Navara is arguably the best in the class offering a supple ride but retaining the ability to cope with heavy loads. Photo Gallery

Peter Barnwell road tests and reviews the new Nissan Navara.

You'd be a happy little Vegemite if you bought a new Nissan Navara ute seven years ago — because it is still pretty much the current model.

And better still, there's another two or three years in the old dog yet. Mind you, Nissan has tweaked Navara considerably since it was launched last decade and it scrubs up pretty well.

However, there are dark clouds on the horizon with four red-hot competitors fresh on the market or coming this year. They are the new Mazda BT50 and twin-under-the-skin Ford Ranger, new Holden Colorado and the new Isuzu D-Max.

Toyota performed major surgery to the look and price of Hilux in the middle of last year. But the rock-solid Navara should have it covered especially given the latest 4x4 dual cab refresh.

WHAT'S THE DIFF'?

The price of the top-of-the-range ST-X 550 4x4, V6, turbodiesel with standard seven-speed auto drops a few thousand bucks to $62,990 and there's an additional, similar V6 ST-X at $56,990. But the 550 gets leather, Bose audio, satnav, a hard drive and a reversing camera.

The four cylinder ST models (from $46,800) gain a more powerful turbodiesel and vehicle dynamic control is standard across the range along with three point seat belts for all passengers.

Navara ST also gains 17-inch alloys, a five channel Utili-Track load system, dual zone climate control, optional five-speed auto and six air bags. Base RX Navara retains the older powertrains but gets additional safety kit.

UNDER THE BONNET.

That  sweet V6 turbodiesel in ST-X is a 3.0-litre unit with 170kW/550Nm while the four pot in ST is a 2.5-litre with 140kW/450Nm.

The V6 is only available with a seven-speed auto transmission offering "manual'' sequential change mode. The four is available with a six-speed manual or a five-speed auto again with sequential manual change mode.

SAFETY

Doesn't get the coveted five star crash rating — it's a four star vehicle. Won't get five until the next generation with a totally new superstructure. However, Nissan has put in more air bags, three point belts and stability control to elevate Navara's rating to the highest it can achieve. A reverse camera is only on the top of the range model — should be on all of them.

IN THE CAB

Despite its age, Navara scrubs up pretty well with a neat dash design and easy to use controls although it's all hard, dark grey plastic. The seats lack lumbar support and even the 550 only has electric seat adjust on the driver's side.

There's plenty of room for five inside and access to the rear seats is fairly easy through decent size rear doors. The high end models additional kit is impressive especially the Bose audio and satnav. But the leather is superfluous. Plenty of storage options and no issues for larger occupants.

ON THE OUTSIDE

We couldn't pick the difference but there is a new face, new bonnet, new bumper, repeater lights in the exterior mirrors on some models, sundry lights and new colours.

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ON THE ROAD

We got to tow 2.0-tonnes behind the ST-X 550 and barely noticed. Maximum towing capacity is a whopping 3000kg. The 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine is a gem — smooth and nearly silent with excellent performance spoiled by the poor throttle action which gives it a dead feeling in the mid-range.

The seven-speed auto is imperceptible when changing cogs. But for the money and for general application, the 2.5 four is pick of the bunch offering plenty of performance, strong throttle response and fuel economy of 8.5-litres/100km. 

Mention must be made of Navara's ride quality which is arguably the best in the class offering a supple ride but retaining the ability to cope with heavy loads. The dual cabs have a large tray and the square-set styling pays dividends of a practical nature.

VERDICT

The Navara 550 was overpriced at launch 18 months ago and nobody wanted to know. Extremely favourable exchange rates will have helped Nissan with sharper pricing that may give the higher end Navara's a leg up for 2012 but we reckon the ST four pot is the one — it ticks most of the boxes and costs a lot less.

NISSAN NAVARA

Price: from $50,990
Warranty: 3-years/100,000km
Safety: 4 star crash rating
Engine: 3.0-litre turbo diesel, 170kW/550Nm
Weight: 1796-2860kg
Transmission: 7-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Thirst: 8.5-litres/100km, CO2 235-256g/km
Towing capacity: 3000kg

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 7 comments

  • have a 2.5 ST and luv the ride and towing ability. Also have a Colorado for work. It is used for towing around 1.8-2.5 t regularly and after 170000k needs a new clutch and the ABS is stuffed. Goes to show no matter what you have none will last forever. By the way our Hilux 3.0t has had injectors replaced, rattles badly when cold, had the clutch replaced and a rear wheel bearing collapsed. It only has 80000k on the clock

    mike s of Griffith Posted on 27 June 2013 9:54pm
  • Agree with Troppo. My front drive shaft almost sh*t itself. Got that replaced for $2000. Vibrating so violently once it passed 70km/h my mates call my car a massage chair. Nissan’s 4WD is just not built for longevity and durability. Peel off some of the rubber seals you’ll find that the rubber seals seal the moisture in and rust the body. Couldn’t be any better. That was another $2000.

    Mous3 of Brisbane Posted on 22 February 2012 12:20pm
  • Just got rid of mine and have to say it was a very disappointing vehicle to own. Had trouble with the transmission after two months and it never towed my boat. A complete failure in the engine electrics led to a roadside stranding three times and a drive line shudder at 90km/h would threaten to shake loose any fillings in your mouth. Air-con drain was not plumbed properly and ended up flooding the carpet leading to a terrible wet stench inside for months. Overhead console fell out whilst driving in city traffic almost causing a crash from the fright - suspect this was due to the drive line shudder at 90km/h it really is that bad (the shudder) and a family friend whom has the same vehicle is now having the same drive line problems. Do yourself a favour, if you are considering this vehicle, DON’T.

    troppo Posted on 22 February 2012 10:20am
  • Bought a 550 Prem pack. Simply awesome to drive.  Tow a 2 tonne Van, get 12 l/100!  Hwy driving get 9l/100. 10 around town.  Drive it like a commodore, ie I use the power.  Best Dualcab I’ve had out of 3 previous. It is effortless to drive and tow with.  Would like to put a big van on one day to test. Worth every cent over the 2.5litre!

    ShaneR of Sydney Posted on 21 February 2012 5:01pm
  • Towing capacity has less to do with the engine than the strength of the drivetrain and chassis can safely handle. This ute would pull way more that 3-t with the torque it has but it would cause damage to the chassis eventually. Oh and our Colorado‚Äôs have a true 3-t towing capacity with 1200 in the back.

    Jason of Melb Posted on 17 February 2012 12:01pm
  • It ain’t a true 3 tonne , read the fine print Want to tow 3 tonne , get a land cruiser : 3.5tonne with a tonne on board

    Fred of here Posted on 16 February 2012 5:03pm
  • Pretty ordinary towing capacity given the V6 engine and high torque figure.

    DaleW Posted on 16 February 2012 1:11pm
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