Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior 2020 review: preview drive

With the market fairly screaming out for high-spec and high-performance dual-cab utes, along comes the latest in a long line of beefed-up work-and-play horses.

The problem is we've all become a bit cynical about anything touted as an action-ready ute because what's come before has been a mish-mash procession of wannabes (basically sticker-packs) with a smattering of more substantial examples (Ford Ranger Raptor).

Nissan Australia has answered the call in the most gung-ho way possible by handing responsibility for the entire process of creating a halo-grade Navara N-Trek over to Aussie company Premcar, a highly-regarded automotive product development and engineering mob. And by "entire process" I mean the "entire process": to develop, source, engineer, validate and manufacture the new pumped-up version of the N-Trek.

Our pre-production test vehicle – codenamed: Samurai – spent the lion’s share of its time caked in mud and covered in sand and dirt. Our pre-production test vehicle – codenamed: Samurai – spent the lion’s share of its time caked in mud and covered in sand and dirt.

As part of the mammoth job, undertaken in a high-pressure time-frame, the operation employed 40 people – with engineering and local manufacturing experience from several automotive manufacturers, which had recently closed down – to work exclusively on the N-Trek Warrior.

Reflecting the scale of the operation, Premcar dedicated a production line at its new 6300 square metre production facility in Epping, to the manufacture of the Warrior.

In July 2019, Nissan invited a select group of motoring journalists to their outback testing facility in Victoria's Big Desert Wilderness Area for an exclusive first drive of a pre-production Warrior during final stages of testing and tweaking.

They were dead-set keen to show off the results of hundreds of man-hours spent developing the Warrior, including exhaustive testing on Australian roads and tracks in harsh conditions.

But, after all of that, is the Warrior actually any good?

Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior will be available only as a dual-cab ute with a six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed auto.

It has a lot of carry-over equipment from the N-Trek, including the new 8.0-inch infotainment system (featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), as well as black stuff everywhere (such as grille, fender flares, sports bar, side steps, roof rails etc), and heated front seats and partial leather seats with dark orange fabric seat inserts.

It comes with 17-inch black alloy wheels. It comes with 17-inch black alloy wheels.

But the big news is the stack of Warrior-specific features, which are many and include: 275/70/R17 Cooper Tires Discoverer AT3 LT (light truck) All-Terrain tyres, upgraded (and Premcar-tuned) dampers, a 40mm lift over N-Trek, a hoopless, body-coloured steel bullbar (from EGR), 3mm stainless-steel front underbody protection (Frontline), integrated 470mm LED light bar (Hella), 17-inch black alloy wheels (Rosta Wheels), re-engineered towbar cross-member (to fit the full-size spare; Frontline), full-size spare wheel and tyre (Rosta Wheels), orange-accented fog-lamp bezel with integrated "bark buster" (RP Group), "Navara" tailgate decal (3M), N-Trek Warrior decal package (3M), N-Trek Warrior embroidered front head-rest (Zervi), orange-accented floor mats (Roadgear), and plastic components specific to N-Trek Warrior (RP Group).

At time of writing, no official price had yet been released and none was even hinted at, but given the amount of aftermarket-style add-ons and work that have gone into the N-Trek Warrior – and the fact the N-Trek costs from $59,000 and the Raptor, which Nissan Australia officials have described as the Warrior's "primary competitor", costs $75,990 – I reckon Nissan's new high-spec ute will cost upwards of $65,000.

We drove a pre-production Warrior back in July, so appearance-wise it was not wholly indicative of what will go into production and finally be available to buy. We drove a pre-production Warrior back in July, so appearance-wise it was not wholly indicative of what will go into production and finally be available to buy.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

As mentioned, we drove a pre-production Warrior back in July, so appearance-wise it was not wholly indicative of what will go into production and finally be available to buy – but at least it gave us a good hint. In a nutshell: it looks pretty good. Like an N-Trek but on the 'roids, but in a good way.

Premcar has embraced the challenge of fitting out the Warrior, outside and in, and, in chasing its goal, has sourced a range of parts, including the all-terrain tyres, the bullbar and underbody protection, from top-tier OEM level suppliers, as well as black alloy wheels and stuff like orange-accented floor mats to round out the package.

  • In a nutshell: it looks pretty good. Like an N-Trek but on the ’roids, but in a good way. In a nutshell: it looks pretty good. Like an N-Trek but on the ’roids, but in a good way.
  • Ground clearance has increased from 228mm in the N-Trek to 300mm in this ute. Ground clearance has increased from 228mm in the N-Trek to 300mm in this ute.
  • Its approach, departure and ramp-over angles also reflect its total 40mm lift over the N-Trek’s. Its approach, departure and ramp-over angles also reflect its total 40mm lift over the N-Trek’s.
  • It comes with 17-inch black alloy wheels. It comes with 17-inch black alloy wheels.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Warrior has the N-Trek's 2.3-litre twin turbo-diesel engine (producing 140kW at 3750rpm and 450Nm at 1500-2500rpm), as well as a seven-speed automatic transmission and dual-range transfer case.

How practical is the space inside?

The interior will look a lot like the N-Trek's apart from Warrior-specific features such as embroidered front headrest and carpet floor mats with orange accenting (front and rear).

The cabin of our pre-production test vehicle housed plenty of tech gear to monitor vehicle activity, such as the suspension set-up's performance, and boofy blokes for the duration.

What's it like as a daily driver?

We didn't do much bitumen driving – a few kays to a rural airport to catch our flight home after having covered a lot of bush-track territory – but it seemed fine; it was subdued and compliant, certainly moreso than the N-Trek we drove as a direct comparison.

But the aim of our visit was to drive the Warrior off-road, so that's what we did.

The cabin of our pre-production test vehicle housed plenty of tech gear to monitor vehicle activity, such as the suspension set-up’s performance. The cabin of our pre-production test vehicle housed plenty of tech gear to monitor vehicle activity, such as the suspension set-up’s performance.

What's it like for touring?

Our pre-production test vehicle – codenamed: Samurai – spent the lion's share of its time caked in mud and covered in sand and dirt while we were privy to the testing process. And that's how any 4WD worth its salt should spend its time. Bloody dirty.

I've always said that aftermarket tyres and suspension will improve any off-roader's performance in the rough stuff and, sure enough, that's what Nissan focussed on.

I know I always harp on about the importance of tyre pressures but the issue did come to the fore during our test drive. I know I always harp on about the importance of tyre pressures but the issue did come to the fore during our test drive.

The Warrior has a 40mm lift over the N-Trek – 15mm of that is attributed to new off-road-enabled springs and dampers; and 25mm of that is from the Warrior's Cooper AT3 All-Terrain tyres.

Wheel track is 1600mm, front and rear, which is 30mm wider than the N-Trek's (1570mm, front and rear).

Ground clearance has increased from 228mm in the N-Trek to 300mm in this ute. Its approach, departure and ramp-over angles also reflect its total 40mm lift over the N-Trek's – check out the table below for those figures.

N-Trek Warrior
Ground clearance
228mm 300mm
Approach angle (degrees)
33.2 35
Departure
28.2 29 (without towbar) / 19 (with towbar)
Rampover
24.7 27.5

 

Nissan reckons it used "a softer primary spring for ride comfort and off road articulation, with a higher but more progressive secondary rate to maintain composure and performance – both in cornering, heavy duty off-roading, when laden and when towing".

The increased spring length takes the larger wheel and tyre further away from the body.

Also, the dampers have been upgraded from the Nissan original equipment part to provide added compression damping on top of the piston for quicker response.

The Warrior test vehicle was a lot more controlled, and subdued, but much more responsive all round, in terms of steering, throttle and braking. The Warrior test vehicle was a lot more controlled, and subdued, but much more responsive all round, in terms of steering, throttle and braking.

"The outer tube diameter is larger with greater oil volume to improve cooling and rough road capability. The piston rod diameter has been increased to improve strength."

Premcar tuned the front and rear dampers with an internal valve code to match the springs and tyres. Its damper tuning program was claimed to have lifted all attributes – ride, handling, steering response, cornering balance and body control.

That suspension set-up has achieved slightly less bump compression, softer rebound, better wheel articulation and better control over bumps – and has made this ute a better all-round and more comfortable drive on- and off-road than an N-Trek.

The 2.3-litre engine still makes a fair bit of noise at low speeds and when you give it the boot, but that grumble is no deal-breaker. The 2.3-litre engine still makes a fair bit of noise at low speeds and when you give it the boot, but that grumble is no deal-breaker.

The more aggressive all-terrain tyres are, of course, better suited to improved performance when you hit 4WD territory.

All of this aims to produce a more off-road capable and comfortable vehicle, something nearing the realm of a high-performance ute, something that's better than the standard Navara N-Trek, which we drove back-to-back with the test Warrior.

On our drive loops – a mix of gravel roads, rutted and sandy tracks along with a few steep sand dunes – the standard N-Trek tended to thump through undulations, and there was plenty of rack rattle over even minor track imperfections, while the Warrior test vehicle was a lot more controlled, and subdued, but much more responsive all round, in terms of steering, throttle and braking.

The more aggressive all-terrain tyres are, of course, better suited to improved performance when you hit 4WD territory. The more aggressive all-terrain tyres are, of course, better suited to improved performance when you hit 4WD territory.

The differences were certainly significant.

Steering wheel jitter was greatly reduced, it held better around corners and through lumps and bumps and the Warrior seemed like an all-round more composed and stable off-roader than it was in standard form.

I know I always harp on about the importance of tyre pressures but the issue did come to the fore during our test drive. The Warrior, supposedly set at 30 psi (pounds per square inch) by product team members, cleared its first run up a steep-ish sand dune that had a long approach and then a chopped-up section just before its crest, but then it failed to do so on the next couple of attempts. Another driver (me) had a crack and cleared it, but the Warrior would have done it a lot easier if the tyres had been aired down more. (We dropped them to 20 psi soon after and had no issues after that.)

The aim of our visit was to drive the Warrior off-road, so that’s what we did. The aim of our visit was to drive the Warrior off-road, so that’s what we did.

The 2.3-litre engine still makes a fair bit of noise at low speeds and when you give it the boot, but that grumble is no deal-breaker and, otherwise, it's a solid, dependable unit.

The N-Trek (auto) has a payload of 917kg; the N-Trek Warrior has a 724kg payload.

The Warrior retains the Navara's 3.5 tonne towing capacity.

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption is claimed as 7.0L/100km (auto). We didn't have the chance to do a fill-to-fill fuel-consumption calculation.

We didn’t do much bitumen driving – a few kays to a rural airport to catch our flight home after having covered a lot of bush-track territory – but it seemed fine. We didn’t do much bitumen driving – a few kays to a rural airport to catch our flight home after having covered a lot of bush-track territory – but it seemed fine.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

It has a five-star ANCAP safety rating, as a result of Navara testing in 2015.

The Warrior does not have AEB but it does have driver and passenger front airbags, driver's knee-bag, driver and front passenger side airbags and curtain airbags for both rows. It also has a reversing camera, reversing sensors, the 360-degree Around View monitor, two ISOFIX child-seat mounts, vehicle dynamic control with brake limited slip differential, hill start assist, hill descent control, and an electronic rear differential lock.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Premcar worked hard to ensure that its local testing validated the changes so the N-Trek Warrior could be covered by a five-year / unlimited kilometre warranty. Roadside assistance is included.

Service intervals are scheduled for every 12 months/20,000km.

Navara service costs total an average of $629 a year.

This is no sticker-pack special, this is an OEM-level conversion. This is no sticker-pack special, this is an OEM-level conversion.

The Navara has always been a fairly decent off-roader, but the Warrior takes it to the next level.

This is no sticker-pack special, this is an OEM-level conversion. From the decent off-road tyres to tweaked dampers and suspension, the Warrior is better ready for 4WDing than any Navara before it. There's a fair bit of style, sure, but there's a chunk of substance as well.

I'd like to spend a lot more time in the N-Trek Warrior before making an informed judgement. I'd like to throw a load in there – see how it rides with that – and I'd like to take it camping – to see how it handles those duties – but at the moment, all signs are pretty positive.

Note: Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior pricing and its on-sale date will be announced soon.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

$65,000

Based on new car retail price

Daily driver score

3.8/5

Adventure score

3.8/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide

$65,000

Based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data