The Nissan Navara has always been a comfortably reasonable ute* that’s never neared the sales heights or popularity of the Toyota HiLux or Ford Ranger, but it has, nonetheless, attracted plenty of passionate fans (#navlife anyone?). (*Before all of you Nav enthusiasts get offended by my opening sentence … full disclosure: I own a 2008 D22 Navara, an ST-R with, yep, the underwhelming 2.5-litre common-rail diesel engine, so don’t accuse me of negative bias. Or any bias…)
Well, now with a styling refresh, more driver-assist tech across the line-up, a payload increase for dual-cab utes, and a price-rise across the range to boot, the Navara is at least drawing nearer to its traditional rivals. Or is it?
I spent seven days testing an ST-X, a second-from-top-spec Navara, in dual-cab 4x4 form, with a chunk of decent 4WDing thrown into the mix. Is the new Nav worth your consideration? Read on.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
The ST-X is the second-from-top-spec Navara and, in auto dual-cab 4x4 guise, has a Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $58,270 (excluding on-road costs) – that’s a price increase of $1870 over the previous ST-X.
Driveaway deals at time of writing included $57,290 for ABN holders. Note: that price excludes premium paint and any options or extras, which will have an additional cost.
Driver-assist technology includes AEB, rear parking sensors and a tyre-pressure monitoring system.
The ST-X also has a genuine Nissan accessory tow bar and ball as standard.
Our test vehicle has a few additions* – including premium polished hoopless bullbar ($3237.75), bonnet protector (smoked) ($160.12), fender flares ($1051.05), winch ($2295.41), winch mount kit ($852.46), and LED Light Bar Combo ($955.56) – and, as a result, this Navara’s price as tested is $67,366 (excluding on-road costs). (*Dealer-fitment costs apply to these accessories.)
There's an LED Light Bar in the bullbar.
There's a ‘Navara’-branded bash-plate at the front.
The ST-X has a genuine Nissan accessory tow bar and ball.
The leather accented seat option pack – which includes eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (with power lumbar adjustment), and heated driver/passenger seats – has a listed price of $1500.
All premium paint – including solid white, burning red, brilliant silver, twilight grey, and forged copper – costs $650. The white pearl (aka white diamond) on our test vehicle, and black star are no extra cost.
Is there anything interesting about its design?
Bulky US-style grilles are all the rage now on new utes and so it is that the updated Navara cops the treatment. It’s not something that is generally my cup of tea, but the Navara manages to carry the look pretty well. The black patch of the AEB sensor on the grille, just under the Nissan badge, is rather noticeable and is a minor distraction from the aggressive front-end appearance.
Bulky US-style grilles are all the rage now on new utes.
The bumper and bonnet are more pronounced than before and there are some cool touches, such as the Navara branding on the front bash-plate and tailgate, but otherwise, the Navara’s overall appearance is a nice subtle variation of the gentrified SUV look of most of the ute mob these days.
The Navara’s appearance is a nice subtle variation of the gentrified SUV look of most of the utes these days.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
The 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel produces 140kW/450Nm.
It has a part-time 4WD system, a dual-range transfer case, with 2WD (two-wheel drive), 4H (4WD high-range) and 4Lo (4WD low-range) options selectable at the turn of a dial in front of the auto shifter, as well as button-activated rear diff lock and hill descent control.
Not a whole lot has changed inside, but it remains a nicely laid out and functional space. As you find in, for example, a Toyota Prado cabin, there is a comforting familiarity about the look and feel of the Navara’s interior, and the way all of the controls are set out.
All-round cabin build quality is rather impressive. There’s a fair bit of hard plastic, but in our ST-X leather accents were also in abundance, and so the interior strikes quite a nice balance between being ready for work and for play.
The steering wheel has been streamlined somewhat to bring it more in line with the style of our times.
The 8.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen is easy to operate and I had no issues pairing my smartphone (Android Auto OS) to the ute.
Not a whole lot has changed inside the Navara.
There’s a USB-A charging port in the console tray, two in the centre console (USB-A and USB-C), and a 12V outlet in the console tray and centre console.
The 7.0-inch digital driver’s display is bright, easy to read and a very handy upgrade.
Storage options include a shallow bits-and-pieces space in front of the auto shifter, a centre console, cupholders between the driver and front passenger seats (the two outboard under-vent cupholders have gone), and door pockets.
The ST-X’s seats, cloth as standard, are leather accented here, and they are supportive and comfortable in our test vehicle. There is plenty of room for a chunky middle-aged bloke such as myself and the driver can adjust positions enough to as closely approximate his or her favourite position anyway.
The interior strikes a nice balance between being ready for work and for play.
The second row is pretty good in terms of room and comfort although, as in most modern utes, if you jam three fully-grown blokes in there, things might become a tad awkward. Or fun, depending on your mindset at the time. As always, if the cabin is at capacity whoever draws the short straw and cops the middle seat is most unfortunate.
Back-seat passengers get a USB charging port and directional air vents on the back of the centre console, as well as seat-back map pockets, moulded door pockets, and a fold-down centre armrest with built-in cupholders.
The second row is pretty good in terms of room and comfort.
The ST-X has a power sliding rear window, operated by the driver via a button, below and to the right of the steering wheel, and that little window to the world is a nice touch and beloved of kids and dogs everywhere.
What's it like as a daily driver?
The Navara remains a rather refined daily driver, especially when driven with mature restraint – of which I am rarely capable.
This ute measures a listed 5311mm long (with a 3150 mm wheelbase), 1830mm high and 1850mm wide. Kerb weight is approximately 2147kg.
So, it’s not gargantuan, but nor is it diminutive. If you’ve spent any time in a ute lately, the Navara will not be a hassle to steer around.
Turning circle is listed as 12.5m, but it never feels like a tank to manoeuvre around suburban streets, busy beach-side carparks or along bush tracks – but more about that later.
Of note is the fact the driver can choose between drive modes – Tow, Sport, Standard, and Off-Road – which tweak, among other things, the transmission to suit the driving conditions.
This Navara measures in at 5311mm long.
The 140kW/450Nm engine and seven-speed auto is a reliably responsive pairing and generally works nicely to offer up controlled and sustained delivery of power and torque, making for a smooth driving experience.
But the engine can become quite noisy when put under pressure with heavy throttle work.
When unladen, the Navara’s suspension set-up (coil springs all-round, double-wishbones with stabiliser bar at the front, and five-link rear) manages to produce a comfortable ride and adds to a general feeling of controlled handling.
The heaviest load we had in the rear – three mountain-bikes and some camping gear – barely registered but you could still feel the Navara settle even further still with that minor burden.
It has disc brakes at the front, but the rear drum brakes are bigger now – 25mm larger than previously, in fact – and helped to haul the Navara to a pin-point stop each time we tested it with our patented “Watch out for that bloody roo!” emergency braking.
What's it like for touring?
It’s a solid off-road performer, as always.
And the bonus is that – loaded up with Nissan accessories – the ST-X certainly looks even more the part of an adventure-ready tourer than a standard Navara ever has before. Check out the hoop-less bullbar, LED light bar, synthetic-rope winch (with a 4536kg rated line-pull), and a substantial ‘Navara’-branded bash-plate at the front – and make up your own mind whether you think it at least looks tough enough for you.
As mentioned earlier, operation of the 4WD system boils down to selection of 2WD, 4H (high-range 4WD) or 4Lo (low-range 4WD) on a dial.
The Navara has a part-time 4WD system.
The Navara has a button-activated rear diff-lock and hill descent control, among other off-road-oriented functions.
The 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine has grunt enough to keep the Navara trucking through pretty ordinary terrain, including coastal sand, with ample low-end torque for steep controlled climbs up rocky hills and the like.
Ground clearance is listed as 224mm.
The combination of engine braking and hill descent control is good enough to keep the Navara to a steady, low-speed pace on severe slippery downhills.
Ground clearance is listed as 224mm and the Navara feels quite low, so it has to be driven with care through deeper ruts, over steep hills and traversing sharper entry and exit points to creek crossings to avoid scraping the undercarriage on the earth.
Off-road-relevant angles of approach, ramp break-over and departure are 32.7, 20.3, and 23.2 respectively. Take into account here, the addition of the hoopless bullbar and the Nissan tow bar, among other factors.
The Navara is vulnerable to water ingress, so a snorkel is worth considering.
Wading depth is listed as 600mm, but the Navara’s air intake is positioned in about the same spot as the Ford Ranger’s – near the top right-hand edge of the radiator – and that ute’s wading depth is claimed to be 800mm. They’re both vulnerable to water ingress and so, if you’re planning any off-grid touring, a snorkel is well worth considering.
The Navara’s Toyo Open Country A25 (255/60R18) tyres do a decent job off-road, but, as always, as long as you’re judicious with dropping tyre pressures to suit the terrain.
The 360-degree view camera/off-road monitor offers quite a murky-looking depiction of what’s actually going on outside of the vehicle, so it’s better used with a bit of good ol’ fashioned ‘sticking your head out the window’ observational skill, rather than relying on the tech alone.
The 360-degree view camera/off-road monitor is very murky-looking.
In terms of tub usability for touring, the tray is 1509mm long (at the floor), 1560mm wide (at the floor), 1134mm wide (between the wheel arches), and 519mm deep (apparently 45mm deeper than before). The tailgate opening is 1360mm wide.
It has a durable-looking tub-liner and Nissan’s Utili-track system, which replaces traditional fixed-in-place tie-down points with a channel on either side of the tray in which four cleats (two on each side) can be moved along and fastened in place to provide adjustable tie-down points to suit your load. They worked well for the soft loads (camping gear etc) and mountain bikes we threw in, but the set-up will rattle a fair bit over corrugated tracks if you don't properly fasten them in place.
The tray is 1509mm long, 1560mm wide (at the floor), and 1134mm wide (between the wheel arches).
Payload is approximately 1024kg, unbraked towing capacity is 750kg, and braked towing capacity is 3500kg. Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) is listed as 3150kg, Gross Combined Mass (GCM) as 5910kg,
The Nissan Navara keeps trucking along, no matter what. It all feels a bit aged, but, with some nice subtle touches and styling tweaks this time around, Nissan has shown that there’s still life in the ol’ dog yet.
And it shouldn't be dismissed.
The Navara is a reliably refined daily driver (for a ute), is rather capable off-road, and the light dusting of adventure gear on this ST-X makes it even more worthy of a Navara fan’s affection and attention.
Those in the market for a dual-cab ute could do worse than put the Navara on their shopping list of potential buys.
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