Ford Ranger 2020 review: Wildtrak
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak has achieved icon status. It’s the ute people refer to as the one they...
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Nissan’s long-running Navara has been on the market since 2015, but this year the Japanese brand has introduced a new flagship to better take on the lifestyle ute market dominated by the Ford Ranger Wildtrak. Though not the full-fat range-topper – that title belongs to the Navara N-Trek Warrior which also scores a number of mechanical changes to enhance off-road ability to better target the Ford Ranger Raptor – the Navara N-Trek opts for cosmetic differences to stand out from the crowd.
And stand out it certainly does thanks to bolt-on fender flares, a sports bar, reworked front grille, 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails and door handles all finished in black. The N-Trek also scores orange highlights on the side mirrors, side steps and front bumper, as well as decals running along the doors, which contrast nicely against the ‘Slate Grey’ exterior colour of our test car. To our eyes, Nissan have done a great job with the styling of the N-Trek, toughening up its dual-cab ute while retaining the same characteristics of the base Navara. My wife on the other hand, questioned Nissan’s aesthetic choices, especially the decals.
“The stickers and orange bits are a bit over the top,” she said upon seeing the N-Trek for the first time.
“But the alloys look good and the front looks mean.”
The Navara N-Trek certainly turned more than a few heads too in our first month with the vehicle, with the gaze of tradies Melbourne wide rotating to see exactly what vehicle we were driving. Having stopped in for a coffee in Melbourne’s inner north quite early in our N-Trek ‘ownership’, a carpenter even struck up a conversation with us.
“What’ve you go there?” he asked, as I clutched my repurposed jar now acting as some sort of ‘life hacked’ reusable keep cup.
“A soy flat white…?” I responded.
“No, the car,” he snapped back.
“Oh, it’s a Nissan Navara, the N-Trek variant,” I answer.
And he is right, at $56,450 before on-road costs for the manual and $58,950 for the automatic, which we have here, the Navara N-Trek is quite good value in the lifestyle ute market.
Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak, the HSV Colorado SportsCat, Mazda BT-50 Boss and the Toyota HiLux Rugged X all start above $60,000, while models such as the Holden Colorado Z71 and Toyota HiLux SR5 can be had from $54,990 and $55,240 respectively. For the money, the Navara N-Trek comes fitted with an 8.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, as well as satellite navigation and USB support. The cabin is also kitted out with orange accents on the steering wheel, shifter and seats to match the outside, leather pews with heating for front passengers, power-adjustment for the driver, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry and start.
Safety wise, the list includes a surround-view monitor (very handy when parking in tight inner-city spaces), rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, hill-start assist and control, and seven airbags. Of note though, the Navara N-Trek does not come with autonomous emergency braking, as the Aussie-spec versions are sourced from Thailand where the technology is not available. With Toyota leading the charge on light-commercial vehicle safety, it is a glaring omission from the spec sheet that Nissan Australia should rectify, and quickly.
Everything else about the cabin is functional, if not cutting edge. Take the multimedia system for example. An 8.0-inch screen might sound big, but against the sea of interior gloss-black plastic and silver accents, it does seem a little on the small side. The system is also not the more intuitive to use, with large buttons flanking the sides and the user interface hiding burying some functions under confusing menus. We do like the climate controls though, which can easily be operated, even while on the move.
Storage is also ample in the Navara thanks to two large cupholders between front occupants, a deep centre console bin and large door pockets (both front and rear) that will easily accommodate large water bottles. And as my mind trails off thinking about the Navara N-Trek’s spec sheet, I’m snapped back to reality with a cutting question from my new tradie friend.
“What’s it got under the bonnet?” he asks.
My mind starts to spin up again, wondering if this is where the N-Trek loses its appeal to the hardworking everyman that wants a good-looking ute for work during the week and play during the weekends.
“A 2.3-litre twin-turbocharged diesel, 140kW/450Nm,” I answer.
“Thought it would be more powerful given how it looks,” he replies.
Now of course, 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque is nothing to scoff at, especially compared to offerings such as the 147kW/470Nm Mazda BT-50 and Ford Ranger, 147kW/500Nm Holden Colorado, 130kW/430Nm Isuzu D-Max, 133kW/430Nm Mitsubishi Triton, 133kW/420Nm SsangYong Musso and 130kW/450Nm Toyota HiLux.
However, the engine outputs are no more potent than the standard Navara range, meaning the exterior changes are all show with no extra go. Don’t get us wrong, the 140kW/450Nm is more than adequate, especially paired to the smart shifting seven-speed torque converter automatic transmission, but the N-Trek certainly looks more aggressive than it goes. Power is delivered smoothly, if somewhat lazily, from a standstill, while the N-Trek retains the Navara’s on-the-fly switchable driving modes, which includes rear-drive, four-wheel high and four-wheel low modes. But my answer has done it, the tradie’s curiosity washes away as I realise this isn’t the new ute he is looking for.He wanders off without even a goodbye, disappearing into the nearby worksite that looks like too many townhouses are being jammed into a single, small block of land.
The Achilles heel of the Navara N-Trek then, is that the engine just doesn’t quite have the bite to match the bark. It looks like the incoming Navara N-Trek Warrior won’t fix that problem either, with the new flagship to be powered by the same engine, though it’s not like the Ranger Raptor is a barn-stormer with its 157kW/500Nm twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel. We like the Navara N-Trek’s engine, we just want to love it. Overall, our first month with the Navara N-Trek has been positive, it looks great, it drives well and it is decent value, let’s see what the rest of the time with the car reveals.
Acquired: August, 2019
Distance travelled this month: 404km
Average fuel consumption for Aug/Sep: 10.9L/100km
Dual-cab utes are increasingly being used as family runabouts, superseding the likes of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon as the people hauler of choice.
While SUVs might be the dominant body style in Australia, the dual-cab 4x4 ute has the advantage when it comes to weekend activities thanks to their go-anywhere ability.
But could a family actually live with one?
In this review of the Nissan Navara N-Trek, we look at how the ute handles family hauling duties, and whether the pick-up is a suitable family car.
While we personally do not have any children, we managed to enlist the young niece and nephew, twins aged two, for help with this test – getting the child seat installed.
If anyone at home has wrangled with child seat in the past, they know it can often be a mess of straps, clips and frustration as you make heads or tails of it all.
Luckily, the Navara N-Trek has Isofix points on the two outboard rear seats, making the seat installation that much easier.
However, the top tether strap in the Navara is just woven fabric loop, rather than a sold metal clasp as seen on many SUVs and passenger cars.
While this rule has now been changed, and all brand-new utes introduced to Australia will feature the same sort of anchorage point as SUVs and passenger cars, the Navara’s current fabric top is notable for being what it is.
Is it as safe and secure as a metal clip? Of course not, but it’s hard to tell the exact difference between the woven loop and its passenger car counterpart without putting a child seat through a crash test.
Once the seat is in however, it’s nice that there is still ample space in the second row to manoeuvre, even with the driver’s seat in position for our 185cm-tall frame.
Would it be comfortable in the middle of two seats? Certainly not, and the thin backrest and base of the second row doesn’t help ergonomics either, but it will do in a pinch.
So, the kids and car seat will get into the Navara N-Trek, but what about all the equipment such as strollers, change bags and spare clothes to go along with them?
Being a ute, of course there is sufficient room in the tray for all these items, but without a cover, they are all exposed to the elements.
While a hard tonneau would solve that problem, it is never going to be as secure as loading the equipment into the back of an SUV or sedan.
The items tend to slosh around in the back when cornering or braking if they are not tied down, not to mention the fact that the items can be hard to retrieve of they slide in towards the middle of the tray.
There is definitely some room in the cabin to get such items in, even with a few car seats installed, but it does eat into in-cabin comfort.
So, the Navara will do the family hauling thing, maybe not as well as something like a large SUV or even sedan, but it will definitely get the job done in a pinch with some compromises.
Acquired: August, 2019
Distance travelled this month: 463km
Average fuel consumption for Sep/Oct: 10.1L/100km
Being a ute, the Nissan Navara N-Trek certainly has utilitarian purpose, which we found the perfect opportunity to put through its paces in our third month with the vehicle.
With a payload capacity of 917kg, the Navara N-Trek can certainly haul some tools and building supplies to a site, but how about bearing the brunt of an entire engine and gearbox lifted straight out of our project car?
Yep! Certainly, does the job, and even has space for an engine crane in the back to go along with it.
We loaded up a B16A four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual gearbox from an old Honda Civic to make its way across town to the donor vehicle, a 1993 Honda Civic EG hatchback – our current project car.
What does that much weight to do the driving dynamics of the Navara N-Trek? Well, we weren’t exactly tearing through town with an engine in the back, but the 450Nm from the 2.3-litre twin-turbo-diesel engine is certainly appreciated here.
As expected, performance takes a hit, but not to the point where the Navara becomes sluggish or undriveable.
Yes, the engine sounds a bit more laboured on up hills runs and braking distance increases slightly, but putting a load in the back of the Navara doesn’t ruin its already capable driving experience.
We will note that the sports bar could make it hard to fully load the N-Trek.
The tray area is also generous and wide, though Nissan’s Utili-Track tie-down system does eat into some of the width.
Speaking of, the system is great to use, allowing you to adjust tie-down points to nearly exactly where you need them, making securing loads quick and easy.
Also, of note after three months of mainly inner-city use, the fuel consumption on the Navara N-Trek could be better.
By the end of our time with the Navara N-Trek we averaged 10.6 litres per 100km of diesel use, which dipped into the low 9s on freeway use and as high as 12.3L/100km in heavy traffic.
Those looking for a capable, go anywhere lifestyle ute could do worse than the Nissan Navara N-Trek, it is a formidable and well-appointed pick-up.
Its refreshed looks elevate what is now an ageing platform, but it is as fit for purpose and utility as any of its competitors.
Acquired: August, 2019
Distance travelled this month: 573km
Average fuel consumption for Oct/Nov: 10.6L/100km
|DX (4x4)||2.3L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$32,650||2020 Nissan Navara 2020 DX (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|N-TREK SPECIAL EDITION (4x4)||2.3L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$58,950||2020 Nissan Navara 2020 N-TREK SPECIAL EDITION (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|N-TREK WARRIOR (4x4)||2.3L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$62,990||2020 Nissan Navara 2020 N-TREK WARRIOR (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|RX (4x2)||2.3L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$29,050||2020 Nissan Navara 2020 RX (4x2) Pricing and Specs|