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Nissan Navara 2021 review

The 2021 Navara is available in 22 different flavours, ranging from SL grade up to Pro-4X.
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Nissan updates its Navara with fresh looks and more equipment to keep it competitive against the market-leading Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, but has it done enough to attract attention from worksite warriors and weekend wanderers?

Whereas passenger cars and SUVs are refreshed every four or five years with a new-generation model, utes often have a much longer shelf life. This doesn’t mean customer expectations are changed, though, as new pick-ups should still have the latest and greatest in safety and specification.

So, what is a brand meant to do when their all-new pick-up model is still years away?

In Nissan’s case, it means the 2021 Navara workhorse has received a light reworking with new looks, reshuffled pricing and more standard safety.

Despite being on the market in its current-generation form since mid-2015, do these new changes make the Navara a worthy contender against market favourites Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger?

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   6/10

The price of Nissan’s Navara has increased across the board this year, but more equipment is added as compensation. 

There are four grades of Navara available for now – SL, ST, ST-X and Pro-4X – mixed up with 4x2, 4x4, manual, automatic and three different body style options for a total of 22 possible permutations.

Kicking off the range is the SL, which comes in single-, king- and dual-cab chassis, and king- and dual-cab pick-up forms, with 4x2, 4x4, manual and automatic options available throughout.

The Navara ranges kicks off at $32,300 for the manual SL and tops out at $60,630 for the auto Pro-4X. The Navara ranges kicks off at $32,300 for the manual SL and tops out at $60,630 for the auto Pro-4X.

Prices for the SL kick off at $32,300, before on-road costs, making the point-of-entry to the Navara range $5150 more expensive than before.

However, Nissan has justified this, somewhat, with the inclusion of more standard equipment and safety.

The SL is fitted with 17-inch steel wheels, a 7.0-inch driver display, cloth interior, keyless entry, and powered windows and door mirrors, as well as more safety equipment, which we will detail further below.

All Navaras feature a 7.0-inch driver display. (ST-X variant pictured) All Navaras feature a 7.0-inch driver display. (ST-X variant pictured)

The next-step-up ST is available exclusively in dual-cab pick-up form and starts from $47,780, but adds digital radio, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-accented steering wheel and shifter, a chrome sports bar and LED headlights.

The ST-X meanwhile, is offered in king- and dual-cab pick-up bodies, priced from $51,270, and is fitted with 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, leather-accented interior, push-button start and auto-folding side mirrors.

The ST-X wears 18-inch alloy wheels. (ST-X variant pictured) The ST-X wears 18-inch alloy wheels. (ST-X variant pictured)

Our test car, the 4x4 ST-X dual-cab automatic rings the till up at $58,270 ($1870 pricier than before).

Sitting atop the range for now is the Pro-4X, which is available exclusively in 4x4 dual-cab pick-up form, priced at $58,130 for the manual ,and $60,630 for the automatic.

It differs from the rest of the Navara range with bespoke styling, leather interior and all-terrain rubber as standard.

All versions of the Navara are also fitted with an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support, Bluetooth connectivity and six-speaker sound, but ST grades and up also score satellite navigation and digital radio.

Inside is a 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. (ST-X variant pictured) Inside is a 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. (ST-X variant pictured)

In terms of pricing, the Navara line-up is now more expensive than equivalent diesel HiLuxes and Rangers, but is line-ball with newer offerings like the Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50.

However, this is somewhat offset a little by promotional drive-away pricing available to both private and business customers.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

Nissan’s updated 2021 Navara wears a new exterior design featuring a revised front grille, bulkier bonnet, fresh bumper design and tailgate stamped with its name.

By borrowing the look from the US market-Titan, there is no doubt this makes the new Navara butcher and more muscular than before, but I actually prefer the sleeker look of the outgoing car.

The 2021 Navara scores a revised front grille. (ST-X variant pictured) The 2021 Navara scores a revised front grille. (ST-X variant pictured)

Maybe it’s the swathes of chrome surrounding the front grille? Either way, I think the Pro-4X is the best interpretation of the new Navara, mainly thanks to its blacked-out bits that make it look even tougher.

The rest of the exterior hasn’t changed much, though the tray in dual-cab variants is now 45mm deeper, making the tub slightly larger.

There's a chrome sports bar out back. (ST-X variant pictured) There's a chrome sports bar out back. (ST-X variant pictured)

The tray now measures 1509mm long (floor), 1490mm wide (top), 1134m between the wheelarches, and 519mm deep, though it still won’t fit a full-sized pallet.

The 2021 Navara’s off-road chops remain intact with approach, departure and breakover angles at 32.7, 20.3 and 23.2 degrees respectively for our ST-X dual-cab, while ground clearance when unladen is measured at 224mm.

Stepping inside the 2021 Navara, and the cabin looks much the same as it did before.

The Navara's interior remains largely the same since 2015. (ST-X variant pictured) The Navara's interior remains largely the same since 2015. (ST-X variant pictured)

The steering wheel is new however, and borrows its design from the Qashqai and Leaf to make the interior feel a little less utilitarian and a just a little more chic, while the driver’s display is also a fresh addition to the 2021 model.

However, these small changes don’t do much to detract from the ageing interior, which has remained largely the same since 2015.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

Much of the 2021 Navara is carried over from last year, which means familiar switchgear, seats and trims.

Up front there is plenty of room for occupants, and storage options extend to generous door bins that accommodate large bottles, a deep centre console bin, two cupholders and a small tray just ahead of the shifter for wallets/phones.

Up front there is plenty of room for occupants. (ST-X variant pictured) Up front there is plenty of room for occupants. (ST-X variant pictured)

All options offer usable storage space, but the wallet/phone tray could be a little deeper with higher sides to stop things sliding around when cornering.

In the back – at least in dual-cab versions – the seating situation is, again, familiar to anyone who has been in the current-generation Navara.

The back seats offer decent head-, leg- and shoulder-room. (ST-X variant pictured) The back seats offer decent head-, leg- and shoulder-room. (ST-X variant pictured)

Outboard passengers are afforded decent head-, leg- and shoulder-room, but middle passengers might find it a bit of a squeeze.

Unfortunately, it’s a little no frills back there, with the only amenities being a fold-down armrest with cupholders, door bins, map pockets and air vents.

Rear passengers get directional air vents. (ST-X variant pictured) Rear passengers get directional air vents. (ST-X variant pictured)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The engine line-up for the 2021 Nissan Navara carries over unchanged from before, which means all but the base grade are fitted with a 2.3-litre twin-turbo-diesel four-cylinder that produces 140kW/450Nm.

The entry-level 4x2 SL manual versions meanwhile, are powered by a single-turbo 2.3-litre diesel engine, outputting 120kW/403Nm.

Manual Navara’s are fitted with a six-speed gearbox, while automatic versions are paired with a seven-speed torque convertor unit.

The 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel produces 140kW/450Nm. (ST-X variant pictured) The 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel produces 140kW/450Nm. (ST-X variant pictured)

4x4 grades also score selectable high- and low-range models, as well as a rear-wheel drive option.

Despite the carryover powertrains, the higher-output engine remains competitive against the ute segment, even when stacked up against newer rivals like the Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 that need a 3.0-litre engine to produce the same figures. 

The engine also affords a payload rating of between 1004-1146kg, depending on spec, as well as a braked towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes.

How much fuel does it consume?   9/10

Official fuel consumption figures for the Nissan Navara range from 7.2-8.1 litres per 100km, depending on engine, transmission, spec and body style.

The ST-X automatic we drove for review is rated at 7.9L/100km, making it about as thirsty as its competitors.

After a day of mixed driving conditions, including road and gravel with and without a load (as well as with a trailer), we averaged 9.0L/100km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The 2021 Nissan Navara wears a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, though its examination was conducted in 2015 when the current-generation model was introduced to Australia.

While the Navara from six years ago didn’t feature any form of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) or lane support systems, it still managed to score 14.01 out of 16 for the frontal offset test, and full marks in the side impact (16 points) and pole (two points) tests.

The overall score awarded to the Navara in 2015 was 35.01 out of 37 points.

Standard safety features in the 2021 model now include AEB, hill-start assist, cruise control, seven airbags, automatic headlights and trailer-sway control.

A reversing camera is standard on all grades barring the single cab, SL king-cab chassis and SL dual-cab chassis variants.

Stepping up to the ST adds rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view monitor, automatic wipers, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and high-beam assist, while the ST-X scores rear parking sensors and a tyre pressure monitor.

There’s no doubt the 2021 Navara is the safest iteration yet, but when competitors offer features like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as standard throughout the range, it’s hard to ignore the shortcomings on the Nissan ute’s spec list.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Like all new Nissan Australia models, the 2021 Navara comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with five years roadside assist.

This matches the assurance period offered by the likes of Toyota, Ford and Mazda, while falling short of Isuzu’s six-year/150,000km warranty.

However, the benchmark for warranty remains Mitsubishi and its Triton, which is offered with a 10-year/200,000km assurance period.

Scheduled servicing intervals in the Nissan Navara are set for every 12 months/20,000km, whichever occurs first.

Service costs are different for manual and automatic vehicles though, with five years/60 months maintenance on the manual adding up to $2883, and $2847 for the auto.

This means the Navara is more expensive to maintain than some rivals, which hover around the $2500 mark for five years’ worth of servicing.

However, the service intervals of the Navara are slightly longer at 20,000km, instead of competitor’s 15,000km range. 

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Without much changing under the skin, the 2021 Nissan Navara drives much as it did before; and that is to say it handles itself admirably on the black top.

With a unique multi-link rear suspension set-up, the Navara feels composed on the road, even without a load in the rear.

And when driving with some weight in the tray – in our case a 325kg box – the Navara remains as calm and collected as you would want in a dual-cab ute.

The Navara feels composed on the road, even without a load in the rear. (ST-X variant pictured) The Navara feels composed on the road, even without a load in the rear. (ST-X variant pictured)

Even with a trailer attached, the added weight and change in handling geometry is not enough to perturb Nissan’s ute on some of Melbourne’s tight and twisty roads.

Likewise, the carryover engine offers enough grunt to haul cargo about without much fuss, though the 2.3-litre twin-turbo-diesel unit in our ST-X test car proved a bit loud and grunty under load.

The 2021 Nissan Navara drives much as it did before. (SL variant pictured) The 2021 Nissan Navara drives much as it did before. (SL variant pictured)

It’s certainly punchy enough without any weight or a trailer in the back, though, and its 140kW/450Nm outputs keep it very competitive against other utes in the segment.

The seven-speed automatic transmission paired with the engine is also smooth and fast shifting, never hunting for a gear when needed. 

The Navara's 140kW/450Nm outputs keep it very competitive against other utes. (ST variant pictured) The Navara's 140kW/450Nm outputs keep it very competitive against other utes. (ST variant pictured)

For those that like to shift themselves, there is manual ratio selection available on the shifter, though there are no wheel-mounted paddles.

Road noise is also quite prevalent in the ST-X, due to the 18-inch wheels, while wind noise is also noticeable at freeway speeds thanks to the Navara sporting the aerodynamic profile of a large brick.

Is the Navara still as adventurous as its rivals? (Pro-4X variant pictured) Is the Navara still as adventurous as its rivals? (Pro-4X variant pictured)

These cabin intrusions are still noticeable despite Nissan’s claims of bulking up sound deadening to improve noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, but we’d have to drive both new and old cars back-to-back to determine if the tweaks are successful.

The big question mark here though is how the new Navara handles itself off-road, and with our driving limited to just paved roads, we’ll have to wait and see if Nissan’s new ute is still as adventurous as its rivals.

Verdict

Nissan’s new Navara might not move the ute game forward as much as some recent entrants, but those that want to stand out from the usual Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger crowd would do well to check out Nissan’s workhorse.

The added standard safety across the board is nice for those looking for a dependable workhorse, but the small quality-of-life updates such as a new steering wheel keep the Navara from feeling stale.

Would be even better if the interior was given a bigger overhaul, like the exterior, but the 2021 Nissan Navara remains a strong option in a competitive segment.

Pricing guides

$46,720
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$27,150
Highest Price
$66,290

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
SL (4X4) 2.3L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTOMATED MAN $47,600 2021 Nissan Navara 2021 SL (4X4) Pricing and Specs
ST-X (4X4) Leather/NO Sunroof 2.3L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTOMATED MAN $58,270 2021 Nissan Navara 2021 ST-X (4X4) Leather/NO Sunroof Pricing and Specs
DX (4X4) 2.3L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $33,300 2021 Nissan Navara 2021 DX (4X4) Pricing and Specs
N-Trek Special Edition (4X4) 2.3L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $57,100 2021 Nissan Navara 2021 N-Trek Special Edition (4X4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Price and features6
Design7
Practicality8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption9
Safety7
Ownership8
Driving8
Tung Nguyen
News Editor

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Pricing Guide

$55,770

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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