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Nissan Navara ST Black Edition 2019 off-road review

Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

27 Sep 2018 • 25 min read

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It might look like a ute that has been done up by one of those tradies whose mates have all got beefed up utes, right?

This is the new Nissan Navara Black edition, and – you guessed it – it’s got a lot of black bits.

Unlike the ST-X Black Edition that came before it, this one is based on the more affordable ST four-wheel drive dual cab model, but it certainly doesn’t look like a standard ST. There are 900 of these models available following big demand from customers after the last Black Edition sold out quick smart.

And being a Series III version of the Navara, it includes the all-important changes to the suspension and the steering. And it’s no more expensive than the standard ST.

Only 900? They’ll be gone in a flash. Read on to find out why.

You might also be interested in the Isuzu D-MAX

image of Isuzu D-MAX Compare to the Nissan Navara Discover More Download A Brochure

You might also be interested in the Isuzu D-MAX

image of Isuzu D-MAX Compare to the Nissan Navara Discover More Download A Brochure

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The new Black Edition of the Navara is said to have had its look toughened up, with a broad range of goodies added at no extra cost over the regular ST. 

Up front there’s a black nudge bar and LED light bar, plus there are new fog lamp surrounds and a black grille as well as a smoked bonnet protector.

Up front there’s a black nudge bar and LED light bar, plus there are new fog lamp surrounds and a black grille as well as a smoked bonnet protector. Up front there’s a black nudge bar and LED light bar, plus there are new fog lamp surrounds and a black grille as well as a smoked bonnet protector.

Further back you’ll find wheel arch flares, black mirror caps and 18-inch wheels with all terrain tyres (General Grabber AT rubber).

A sports bar, protective tub liner and soft tonneau cover have been added to the business end, and of course there are a few ute-special decals on the body. All of the extras are fitted in Australia, and everything falls under the brand’s warranty - more on that in the ownership section below.

A sports bar, protective tub liner and soft tonneau cover have been added to the business end.
A sports bar, protective tub liner and soft tonneau cover have been added to the business end.

Oh, and good news – you don’t have to have it with black paint: there are five colours available. 

It’s one of the more convincing special edition models to look at - admittedly, it’s a more lightweight offering than some, like the Colorado Z71 Xtreme or Toyota HiLux Rugged X, but if you want to take the customisation further, there’s a fair array of genuine parts available for the Navara, including a bull bar, nudge bar, snorkel, roof rails, roof racks and more.

How practical is the space inside?

Is there anything to differentiate the Black Edition inside? Actually, no - there’s bugger all difference between this and the regular ST apart from a mobile phone holster. 

Because it’s based on the ST, you still get carpet on the floor and cloth on the seats, but it’s a bit more hard-wearing and work-focused than the higher grades. For the most part, the cabin feels pretty good for the sort of money being asked.

I’ve always been a bit of a fan of the Navara’s cabin because it doesn’t necessarily feel like a tradie ute in here - but it is starting to age a bit.

The media system is pretty out of date when you compare it with what else is on offer in the ute segment, so you can forget about Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The best you’ll do here is Bluetooth streaming and USB, but at least there’s built-in sat nav.

I’ve always been a bit of a fan of the Navara’s cabin because it doesn’t necessarily feel like a tradie ute in here.

Along with the phone holder there are decent storage spots, including a pair of cup holders between the seats and two up on the dash, plus all four doors have decent bottle holders. 

Unlike some affordable competitors, the Navara gets a digital speedometer range-wide (added as part of Series III), and there’s a multifunction trip computer that offers a lot of info including fuel use, navigation prompts and direction of travel (good when you go bush like we did).

The rear seat of the Navara isn’t bad but doesn’t offer anything outstanding for the class. There is adequate knee, toe and head room, and like most of these dual-cab utes, you can fit three across if you need.

And as part of the Series III update, the Navara scored ISOFIX child seat anchors, too, which is good news for parents. The back-seat base can be folded up to allow for a decent storage area if you don’t want to put stuff on the seat.

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

Unlike some of the other show pony utes out there, the Navara Black Edition list price stays below fifty grand.

The ST Black Edition is priced identically to the two versions of the ST already sold: the manual is listed at $47,190 plus on-road costs, while the auto is priced at $49,690. 

The ST Black Edition builds upon the stuff already offered in the ST, which includes a 7.0-inch media screen with sat nav (plus Bluetooth and USB connectivity), cloth trim, vinyl flooring and a leather-lined steering wheel.

Other standard gear shared with the regular ST includes an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, electronic rear differential lock, privacy glass, LED headlights and daytime running lamps and cruise control.

Plus there’s all the black goodies: black 18-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tyres, a black grille, black sports bar, wheel-arch flares, black nudge bar, LED light bar, soft tonneau cover, a tubliner for the tray, black mirror caps, black fog lamp surrounds, body decals and a smoked bonnet protector. There is also that mobile phone holder in the cabin, as mentioned earlier.

This Navara gets black 18-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tyres. This Navara gets black 18-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tyres.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Navara ST (plus SL and ST-X models) comes with a 2.3-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine with competitive specifications.

It’s not short of horsepower, with 140kW of power (at 3750rpm) and 450Nm of torque (from 1500-2500rpm). Those figures are identical if you choose the six-speed manual gearbox or the seven-speed automatic transmission.

What about payload capacity? The Series III model still runs coil-spring rear suspension, but it has been tweaked with dual-rate springs to offer better stability and comfort. In ST spec the payload is pretty decent at 974kg for the manual and 968kg for the auto, which is pretty good, but not class-leading. All dual-cab Navara models have a gross combination mass (GCM) of 5910kg.

And unlike some rivals, like Toyota HiLux and Mitsubishi Triton, the Navara has segment-standard towing capacity for both manual and auto models; its unbraked towing capacity is 750kg, while braked towing capacity is rated at 3500kg. 

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption is rated at 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres for the automatic versions of the Navara dual-cab with the 2.3-litre twin-turbo engine, but we couldn’t quite match that during our drive.

Instead, we saw 9.2L/100km indicated on the dashboard - a little better than my recent trip in the ST-X, but unfortunately we couldn’t do an at-the-pump figure. 

Fuel tank capacity is 80 litres, so you could predict a theoretical mileage range of 870km from full to dry. 

What’s it like as a daily driver?

While our adventurous route from Perth to Margaret River in WA included a lot of rugged driving, we also spent some time on the highway and negotiating low-speed urban driving.

And, for the most part, the Navara was pretty decent; not the best in the class, but not the worst, either.

The drivetrain is generally very good, with strong punch through the rev range once you get past a little bit of low-rev lag at a standstill. We were in the seven-speed auto model, which exhibited a tendency to rev out a bit too far before shifting, and had a clattery engine noise during stop-start driving - it isn’t deafening by today’s standards, but there are quieter utes out there.

The ride impressed, with decent compliance and comfort without much weight in the tray. The ride impressed, with decent compliance and comfort without much weight in the tray.

The steering is much improved in Series III guise, with a more direct ratio and quicker rack, meaning less arm-twirling when you’re driving at all speeds. It is better, but still needs a fair bit of turning when you’re performing three- (or five-, or seven-) point turns, as the turning circle is big.

The ride impressed, with decent compliance and comfort without much weight in the tray. 

What's it like for touring?

I recently drove the ST-X model from Adelaide to Alice Springs, where I saw plenty of miles of open gravel roads. This group trip was a little more focused on slower-going off-roading, with some testing terrain outside Margaret River for the Black Edition - and it fared quite well.

The General Grabber AT rubber proved grippy over steep, rocky sections of ascent and descent, and we had no problems with grip on sand or muddy surfaces, either. However, the lack of a hill descent control system is annoying - you get it on the ST-X, but not here. That said, the rear differential lock offered on all 4x4 Navara models is a welcome addition - some rivals, like the Colorado, don’t have that on any grade.

I recently drove the ST-X model from Adelaide to Alice Springs, where I saw plenty of miles of open gravel roads. I recently drove the ST-X model from Adelaide to Alice Springs, where I saw plenty of miles of open gravel roads.

We had no call to engage low range (4L) on our test, as there was no super tricky stuff encountered. The switch-on-the-fly system was quick going between two-wheel drive high range (2H) and four high (4H), and we did that a lot over the few days of driving - switching from blacktop to scrabbly gravel, and even mucking about on a stretch of WA’s pristine sand.

The plan was for us to drive about 30km on sand, but we had to abort and perform a u-turn after 8km due to severe erosion (a storm the night prior had washed away what was a track the day before we arrived - a recce by Nissan’s safety team went off without a hitch before we arrived, but we weren’t so lucky).

We had no call to engage low range (4L) on our test, as there was no super tricky stuff encountered. We had no call to engage low range (4L) on our test, as there was no super tricky stuff encountered.

I found the Navara pretty easy to drive on the thick, loose sand we encountered, with the tyre pressures set to 20psi - and that’s coming from someone who isn’t the biggest fan of this discipline. The only point I’d make is that the transmission tends to want to upshift a little too soon at times (the opposite of the issue I had with it in normal, day-to-day driving), so I found myself reverting it to manual mode to take better control of the timing of the gear changes.

The engine didn’t disappoint, no matter the terrain, with good torque available in the mid-range.

I found the Navara pretty easy to drive on the thick, loose sand we encountered. I found the Navara pretty easy to drive on the thick, loose sand we encountered.

We also spent a lot of time on hard-packed sand, which was peppered with sharp-edged rock not far under the surface. While it was bouncy at times when we were trying to make good time (in other words, moving a bit too fast for the terrain), it managed lower-speed crawls quite nicely, and the coil-sprung rear axle presented some impressive articulation over seriously offset gradients.

Navara ST dual-cab models have quite aggressive angles: the approach angle is 33.1 degrees, while the departure angle (without towbar) is 28.1, and the rampover angle is good, too, at 24.5. 

Navara ST dual-cab an approach angle of 33.1 degrees, while the departure angle is 28.1. Navara ST dual-cab an approach angle of 33.1 degrees, while the departure angle is 28.1.

The ground clearance of the regular ST (which comes with side steps) is 226mm. The Black Edition test vehicles’ side steps copped a hiding on our test route, with deep drop-offs cracking the plastic covering on several, and bigger rock hits even caused some more serious dents.  Determined off-roaders may want to consider replacing them with more hardcore steel steps or rock rails. 

While the tubliner is excellent at stopping your paint from being damaged, some things may slip and slide on it. Also, the soft tonneau cover is far from sealed, and if you want to keep things clean, I’d suggest you store them in the cabin if you can, or invest in a hard top or canopy. 

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Navara dual-cab range has a five-star ANCAP crash test rating (scored in 2015). The same score applies to models fitted with a genuine steel or aluminium bullbar.

Against today’s ANCAP criteria, the Navara wouldn’t get five stars - unlike some competitor utes there is no advanced safety technology like auto emergency braking (AEB - standard on the Mercedes X-Class and SsangYong Musso), forward collision warning, lane departure warning and/or lane keeping assist, active cruise control or blind-spot monitoring. Perhaps a 2019 Series IV update will include some of those systems? We’ll see (and we hope).

Standard safety gear includes seven airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee), and dual-cab pick-up models get a reversing camera fitted as standard, but cab-chassis models miss out on a camera. ST models miss out on rear parking sensors, no matter the body type.

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

Nissan is lagging behind with a three-year/100,000km warranty - better warranty plans exist, with Ford, Holden, Isuzu and Mitsubishi all offering a standard five-year/unlimited km warranty.

At least the service intervals are lengthy - maintenance is due every 12 months or 20,000km, so long adventure drives are easily justified. Some rivals, like the Toyota HiLux, need servicing every six months/10,000km. 

Nissan’s capped price servicing plan covers six years/120,000km, whichever occurs first - but the service costs are high. For a diesel automatic Navara, the service costs are: $547; $571; $714; $571; $547; $738.

There’s a three-year roadside assistance program included at purchase. 

Some people may prefer the DIY route when it comes to customising their ute – but the 2019 Nissan Navara ST Black Edition offers a solid pre-fabricated option for very reasonable money. If you want one, head to your dealer because it’s bound to sell quickly.

Is the Navara ST Black Edition something you'd consider? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

$47,190

Based on new car retail price

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

4/5

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

$47,190 - $47,190

Based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data