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Nissan Navara 2023 review: SL Warrior - GVM test

The SL Warrior's has a less cluttered appearance than the fully-loaded PRO-4X. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5

Following the D23 Navara’s launch in 2014, it took about six years of continual refinement for Nissan to turn it into the competent all-rounder it now represents. 

The premium offering in the Australian Navara 4x4 line-up is the PRO-4X Warrior, which is designed, developed and assembled by Nissan's local engineering partner Premcar in Melbourne. 

However, given that the Warrior commands a $70K price tag, Nissan and Premcar wanted to unlock a lower-priced entry-point to ownership. 

So, they released the Navara SL Warrior, based on the entry-level SL model. We recently put one to work for a week to see how it measures up from a tradie’s perspective.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The SL Warrior, like its sibling, is available only as a 4x4 dual cab ute. It comes standard with the Navara’s familiar 2.3-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel and a choice of six-speed manual gearbox ($58,000) or seven-speed torque converter automatic, like our example, for a list price of $60,500, plus on-road costs. 

That’s $11,400 more than a standard SL Navara and for that extra spend you get a bespoke package of off-road equipment, starting with unique body decals and 17-inch alloys wearing Cooper Discoverer AT3 all-terrain tyres plus a full-size alloy spare.

The SL Warrior wears 17-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The SL Warrior wears 17-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

There's also a winch-compatible hooped bull-bar with integrated LED light-bar, black Navara-branded underbody bash-plate, wheel-arch flares, load tub-liner, 3500kg tow-bar and rubber floor mats. 

Big changes underneath include a 40mm increase in ride height to 260mm. This substantial gain in ground clearance (25mm from tyres, 15mm from springs) results in the approach angle improving from 32 to 36 degrees and virtually no change in departure angle with a tow-bar fitted. 

The suspension has been retuned with new springs, shock absorbers and jounce rubbers. The new front spring rate provides more front-end support and less body roll while the revised shocks produce improved compliance, noise isolation and reduced ‘float’ when towing and/or carrying loads. These changes also bring a useful 100kg increase in its GVM rating.

Rear seating is comfortable, but a bit tight. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Rear seating is comfortable, but a bit tight. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

In addition to Premcar’s hardware, the SL’s standard equipment list includes automatic headlights with halogen DRLs, tailgate assist, a rear bumper step, a reversing camera and rear diff lock. 

Inside, there’s a six-speaker multimedia system with 8.0-inch touchscreen and multiple connectivity including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, plus four USB ports, two 12-volt accessory outlets, 7.0-inch instrument cluster display with digital speedo, and more. 

So, although based on the entry-level model, it does offer numerous useful features. The optional 'Pearl White' metallic paint on our test vehicle adds $650.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

Its simpler specification results in a less cluttered appearance than the fully-loaded PRO-4X, with the SL’s lack of side-steps visually accentuating its higher ride height. 

We like the work-focused look and its wipe-clean vinyl floor would be well suited to tradie duties.

The SL looks less cluttered than the fully-loaded PRO-4X. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The SL looks less cluttered than the fully-loaded PRO-4X. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The interior, with fabric-trimmed two-tone upholstery, offers a visually pleasing and practical mix of contrasting chrome, satin chrome and textured hard surfaces, which show how base-grade ute interiors are moving increasingly upmarket. 

The front seats are supportive but a more prominent left footrest for the driver would enhance this. 

Inside is an 8.0-inch touchscreen. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Inside is an 8.0-inch touchscreen. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

With adjustable air conditioning vents in the rear of the centre console, rear seating is also comfortable, but head and shoulder room are marginal for tall adults, particularly when travelling three-abreast. 

For those that draw the short straw and end up seated in the higher central position, with their knees squeezed together between the front seat backrests and head pressed into the roof lining, this will only be tolerable for (very) short trips. 

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

With its 2033kg kerb weight, the SL Warrior’s useful 100kg GVM upgrade to 3250kg means it has an enviable 1217kg payload rating. 

It’s also rated to tow up to the category's benchmark 3500kg of braked trailer but to do that would require a huge and impractical 840kg reduction in payload to avoid exceeding its 5910kg GCM (or how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time). 

That would leave only 377kg of payload capacity, which could easily be used up by a crew of four large adults without luggage.

As a result, we reckon braked towing limits should always be based on a vehicle’s GVM. In this case, that would lower the tow rating from 3500kg (few if any owners would need that much anyway) to 2660kg, which is still a sizeable trailer and would allow you to keep the full 1217kg payload rating. That would not only be more practical, but also safer for towing.

The tub measures in at 1509mm long and 1560mm wide. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The tub measures in at 1509mm long and 1560mm wide. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The floor of the almost-square load tub is 1509mm long and 1560mm wide. However, with 1134mm between the rear wheel housings, it won’t fit a standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallet but it will take a Euro pallet. The four load anchorage points are located low where you need them.

Cabin storage includes a large bottle holder and bin in each front door, plus an overhead glasses holder and single glove box. 

The centre console offers a small open cubby at the front, two small bottle/cupholders in the centre and a lidded box at the back.

Each door features a large bottle holder. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Each door features a large bottle holder. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Rear seat passengers also get a large bottle holder and storage bin in each door plus a fold-down centre armrest with two small bottle/cupholders. 

The rear seat’s base cushion can also swing upwards and be stored vertically if more internal cargo space is required. 

Under the bonnet – what are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

Nissan’s Euro 5-compliant 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel features two-stage inline turbochargers that provide excellent lag-free response and ample output. 

It produces 140kW at 3750rpm and 450Nm of torque served at full strength between 1500-2500rpm.

The 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 140kW/450Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 140kW/450Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

It’s well matched with the snappy but smooth shifts of a seven-speed torque converter automatic, with overdrive on its top two ratios minimising engine rpm and maximising economy on highway hauls. It also offers manual sequential-shifting which can be handy when carrying and/or towing loads in hilly terrain.

The 4x4 transmission is dual-range part-time with shift-on-the fly electronic 4x4 engagement up to 100km/h, plus there’s an electronic rear diff lock.

Efficiency - what is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

Nissan claims average combined consumption of 7.3L/100km but after our 300km test, of which about one third was lugging a heavy payload, our figure calculated from fuel bowser and trip meter readings came in at 10.3L/100km. 

So, based on our figures, you could expect a ‘real world’ driving range of around 770km.

Driving – what’s it like to drive?

It’s not hard to climb aboard without side-steps. The driving position is good and although there’s no adjustable lumbar support, there’s more than enough in the seat's backrest to keep your spine straight. 

As previously mentioned, the only thing missing is a big left footrest to support a decent-sized boot.

The steering feel, like the PRO-4X Warrior, is the best it’s been in a D23 Navara and the ride quality and handling improvements resulting from Premcar’s tuning are commendable. 

Premcar has done a commendable job improving the Navara. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Premcar has done a commendable job improving the Navara. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Despite the raised ride height, body roll is controlled during cornering and when combined with the baggy tyre sidewalls it has a supple but disciplined ride over bumps. We didn’t get a chance to take it off-road but we’d expect similar ride and handling gains.

Cabin noise is pleasantly low at highway speeds, given our expectation of tyre howl from its off-road biased tread patterns. 

The engine requires only 1750rpm to maintain 100km/h and 1900rpm at 110km/h which is smack-bang in the middle of its peak torque band where throttle response is at its strongest.

With 770kg in the tub, the SL's suspension compressed about 80mm. (image credit: Mark Oastler) With 770kg in the tub, the SL's suspension compressed about 80mm. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

To test its load-carrying ability we forklifted 770kg into the load tub which with our crew of two equalled a 940kg payload. 

Although the rear coil-springs compressed about 80mm under this loading they still maintained about 60mm of static bump-stop clearance, which was more than enough to ensure it didn’t bottom-out on our test route.

The engine’s 450Nm of torque easily conquered our 13 per cent gradient, 2.0km-long set climb at 60km/h with this load on board and its engine-braking on the way down was equally robust, which for a four-cylinder engine with only 2.3 litres displacement is commendable.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

The SL Warrior is a good-looking, well-engineered and practical package that provides an alternative entry point to Warrior ownership. 

However, its low-$60K pricing also pitches it against more upmarket rivals like the Ford Ranger XLT, Mazda BT-50 GT and Toyota HiLux SR5.

So, when comparing relative values, do Premcar’s unique body/chassis enhancements compensate for the SL’s shorter safety menu and vinyl-floored workhorse cabin to justify its price? 

That comes down to intended use and personal priorities - and only a buyer knows what they are. 

$35,777 - $82,990

Based on 232 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5
Price Guide

$35,777 - $82,990

Based on 232 car listings in the last 6 months

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