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Nissan Navara 2019 review: ST-X 4x4 dual-cab

We took the Nissan Navara ST-X to the northern reaches of the Queensland Sunshine Coast during the school holidays.

15 May 2019 • 11 min read

Give our family a dual-cab ute and we think camping. Who wouldn’t? What greater test for one of these steadfast machines than a family camping trip? Add three days of torrential rain and well, it’s just fun all round. That’s what we tell the kids, anyway.

We took the Nissan Navara ST-X to the northern reaches of the Queensland Sunshine Coast during the school holidays. It watched patiently as we got the tent up in the morning sunshine and then laughed heartily as we sheltered inside the cabin when the rain was at its worst at 2:00am.

What does it look like?

We like the muscular arches and tough, no-nonsense stance of the Navara with the chrome nose and sports bar adding a substance to that image. It is reassuringly large and confident without being unnecessarily imposing, with those traditionally softer SUV lines providing balance.

  • We like the muscular arches and tough, no-nonsense stance of the Navara. We like the muscular arches and tough, no-nonsense stance of the Navara.
  • It is reassuringly large and confident without being unnecessarily imposing. It is reassuringly large and confident without being unnecessarily imposing.
  • The Navara ST-X starts from $54,490. The Navara ST-X starts from $54,490.

On the inside the Navara ST-X appears to favour function more than form with modern niceties unable to disguise a utilitarian set-up. The harder plastics are a reminder that this is a work ute at heart, but the brushed metal highlights do their bit to lighten up the cabin and the fit and finish are without complaint.

Our test vehicle came with the optional leather trim package ($1500) which also includes heated front seats, seat-back pockets and a power-adjusted driver’s seat and while it was nice to have that added comfort, it is a bit cheeky, given the price of the ST-X, that these features are not standard inclusions.

How does it drive?

Dual-cab 4x4s, especially of the diesel variety, are never going to glide along surreptitiously while you lounge around in enveloping comfort.

Nissan has quickened up the steering wheel. Nissan has quickened up the steering wheel.

These are two-tonne units, after-all, built primarily for work and gainfully adapted to accommodate families with some level of civility so tradies would be further swayed by the vehicle’s practicalities.

Keep this in my mind when behind the wheel of the ST-X and you will be impressed by how easy it is to drive. Nissan has quickened up the steering wheel, so you no longer have to flail your arms around like you are corralling chickens, when you are turning or negotiating roundabouts.

Parking is easier, too, and even longer drives require less steering adjustment.

Now, the biggest change in this edition of the Navara is the adjustment to the coil-sprung rear suspension.

Navara now behaves better with a load in the back which was evident with our camping gear on board. Navara now behaves better with a load in the back which was evident with our camping gear on board.

Nissan’s earlier attempt to make the ride more comfortable for families, attracted criticism from those drivers who found the ute far from predictable once there was a load in the tray.

The Japanese manufacturer responded with a more middle-ground offering and while the Navara now behaves better with a load in the back which was evident with our camping gear on board, expect more wriggling and jiggling if the tray is empty.

The latter is not good news for those in the back seat especially if the roads you travel on have surface irregularities.

Despite its size, the Navara ST-X is pretty easy to manoeuvre around town. Despite its size, the Navara ST-X is pretty easy to manoeuvre around town.

Despite its size, the Navara ST-X is pretty easy to manoeuvre around town.

There is the expected sway around corners but not enough to be concerning and brakes work well to stop the ute as soon as you signal your intention.

The 360-degree camera is great when you are getting into and out of tight spots while the parking sensors provide added confidence.

The ST-X gathers speed quickly when needed in highway driving and is comfortable up hills under load, needing just the slightest persuasion to gather momentum.

The 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel engine that powers the Navara may be one of the smaller units in this segment, but it certainly doesn’t lack for power or the low-down torque that you need when towing.

You can access the four-wheel drive (4WD) on the fly courtesy of a dial at the bottom of the dash but while we used the Navara on secondary roads and hard beach sand, we had no call for engaging 4WD low-range.

How spacious is it?

Well, you would think a dual-cab ute would have oodles of space to roll around in, but hmmm, not so much.

While lodgings are attractive for the driver and front passenger with room to stretch out the legs and enough space between the seats for wider shoulders.

  • While lodgings are attractive for the driver and front passenger. While lodgings are attractive for the driver and front passenger.
  • It is a little squashier in the back with less room for knees. It is a little squashier in the back with less room for knees.
  • You have to option a cover for the tub. You have to option a cover for the tub.
  • Nissan’s 'utili-track' rail system allows you to secure loads with ease. Nissan’s 'utili-track' rail system allows you to secure loads with ease.

It is a little squashier in the back with less room for knees and toes and the straight-backed seats not aiding comfort levels. Taller adults may find the headroom wanting, too. You can fit two car seats in with little problem but there really no room for a third passenger to sit between them.

The lined tub is deep and practical for work and household gear with Nissan’s 'utili-track' rail system allowing you to secure loads with ease.

You have to option a cover for the tub though which should be an inclusion really given it is almost a necessity. There are no luggage hooks like you may find in an SUV so while the schoolbags and sports bags were fine in the back, I had to stow the groceries in the cab itself.

How easy is it to use every day?

The Navara has some useful in-cabin storage, the best of which is probably the slide out cupholders at the top of the dash. There are also two squarish cupholders near the gear lever which can take a water bottle and a smallish centre console and glove box to store other items. The door pockets are deep and will easily take a large water bottle and an iPad.

Wide side steps proved handy to climb in and out. Wide side steps proved handy to climb in and out.

The kids were a bit miffed that the back seat didn’t have a middle seat that pulled down with cupholders and storage (first-world problems) but liked being able to stash their books and art supplies in the seat pockets.

They were grateful, too for the rear air-conditioning especially in the steamy days that followed our camping deluge but were critical of the seats which had a very straight back and limited padding in the cushion.

The Navara sits off the ground so the wide side steps proved handy to climb in and out while the wider door openings also facilitated an easier entry and exit.

You can use the tailgate as a table which is cool with a place to hold your drink in place. You can use the tailgate as a table which is cool with a place to hold your drink in place.

The cabin set-up has the driver in mind with all the everyday dials and buttons within reach, the instrumentation clear and the steering wheel comfortable in the hand. I wish the steering was adjusted for reach as well as height though as it would have enhanced the driving position.

You can use the tailgate as a table which is cool with a place to hold your drink in place.

How safe is it?

What’s the tech like?

The Navara’s multimedia system works well enough but is ageing rather than ageless. The 8.0-inch colour touchscreen which is also the face of the satellite navigation system, is about par for the segment but the graphics are a little iffy and the camera picture is often grainy.

The Navara’s multimedia system works well enough but is ageing rather than ageless. The Navara’s multimedia system works well enough but is ageing rather than ageless.

Bluetooth pairing is simple but there is no smartphone mirroring which would be a bit annoying for tradies doing business on the run. There is a USB connection and a couple of 12-volt plugs which were great for recharging camping lights.

How much does it cost to own?

The Navara ST-X (from $54,490) comes with a three year/100,000km warranty with a capped price servicing plan for the first six services.

Service intervals are 12 months/20,000km and costs for the first six years ranging from $547 to $738.

We found the Navara quite good at the pump too and while we couldn’t match the official 7.0L/100km, we were happy enough with our 8.2L/100km.


The Wrap

The Nissan Navara ST-X makes good sense for buyers needing a work vehicle that offers family comforts. It is easy to drive, now behaves better with a load in the tray, and has some of those niceties that we love in SUVs. We love its practical nature – great for camping, trekking garden waste to the dump, even moving a bit of furniture – and all that on top of the day job. The Navara is not perfect but does enough well to leave a favourable impression.

Could a Navara be your next family workhorse? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

 

Likes

Versatility
Power turbo-diesel
Rear air-vents

Dislikes

Straight-backed rear seats
Ageing infotainment system
Jiggly over bumps

Scores

Vani:

3.5

The Kids:

3

$54,490

Based on new car retail price

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