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Nissan Navara ST-X 2018 review

The updated Series III Nissan Navara ST-X is now more adept at hard work than it was previously. So has it finally got the balance between work and play right?
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

28 Feb 2018 • 19 min read

Daily driver score

3.7/5

Tradies score

3.7/5

There has been a lot of action in the ute segment since the start of 2018. But with all the fanfare around a certain ute (the one wearing the three-point star), as well as a range of rugged and sporty new additions to the dual cab segment, some of the biggest improvers have missed out on their share of the limelight.

One such model is the Nissan Navara, which has been updated - again - in order to address some of its shortcomings when it came to doing actual ute things.

The Series III Nissan Navara models have seen changes to the suspension and steering, and some new equipment has been added as well. Nissan claims this all combines to offer a more compelling and, importantly, more work-ready ute than the models that came before it.

So, has the Nissan Navara 2018 range finally got the balance between work and play right? Let’s find out.

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

One of the most appealing aspects of the Nissan Navara range is the value on offer. There are invariably good deals to be had across the model range, and the high-end ST-X model is one that often sees much better drive-away offers than the list price suggests.

The official asking price for the Navara ST-X automatic is $54,490 before on-road costs, but be sure to be vigilant in your search for a good deal - and make sure you don’t accidentally buy the previous Series II model. A manual version of the ST-X is available, priced at $51,990.

Like for like, the ST-X is an affordable top-spec ute, with many competitor mid-spec models close to the price of the range-topping Navara. 

Standard on this spec are side steps and roof rails, and there’s a sort of integrated rear spoiler built into the tailgate. Standard on this spec are side steps and roof rails, and there’s a sort of integrated rear spoiler built into the tailgate.

Standard equipment on the ST-X model includes niceties such as a surround-view camera system, rear parking sensors, auto wipers, LED headlights with auto on/off function, 18-inch wheels with a full-size spare, a sound system with six speakers, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen media system with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming plus USB connectivity (but no smartphone mirroring - so no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto). 

Other inclusions, such as dual-zone climate control, push-button start and keyless entry, add some passenger-friendly flare to the top-spec Navara. It also has an auto-dimming rearview mirror, carpet mats and three 12-volt outlets, as well as rear-seat air vents. There will be a digital speedometer in all models built from June 2018, but our car didn’t have one. 

The ST-X model’s tray sees the standard fitment of Nissan’s very clever Utili-Track adjustable tie-down system, too - the X-Class also has that, but it’s an optional extra, even on the top-spec model - and that’s in addition to four more tie-downs in the tub.

All Navara dual cab models have the electric sliding rear window above the front of the tub, which - again - is an option on the X-Class. A chrome sports bar pairs with chrome highlights on the outside of the ute, and it has a rear step bumper to make climb-in access to the tub easier. 

Other inclusions, such as dual-zone climate control, push-button start and keyless entry, add some passenger-friendly flare to the top-spec Navara. Other inclusions, such as dual-zone climate control, push-button start and keyless entry, add some passenger-friendly flare to the top-spec Navara.

Our test vehicle had two optional extras fitted: an electric sunroof (it’s the only ute in the segment available with one), which costs $1000 and also sees the inclusion of rear map lights. And a leather seat option pack, which sees the inclusion of leather trim on the seats, leather on the door trims, electric seat adjustment for the driver’s seat, heated front seats and seat back pockets for extra rear-seat storage - it costs $1500. 

Our car also had an optional towing kit (which you can get fitted as standard on some competitor flagship utes), and ours also had electric trailer brakes because we did a short towing review using quite a large caravan.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Not much has changed. In fact, nothing has, apart from the ride height, which is a little more upright due to the revised suspension. 

Still, it’s a conventionally attractive offering in the ute segment, with a nice mix of muscle and subtle lines that some of its competitors can’t match.

Standard on this spec are side steps and roof rails (great if you need to fit roof racks), and there’s a sort of integrated rear spoiler built into the tailgate. It’s not a fully sick body kit, but hey, you can find those online if you so choose (and Nissan even did a special edition sports model with one).

How practical is the space inside?

I can still remember when I went to the launch of the current-generation version of the Navara in Thailand back in late 2014, and I came away thinking that the Navara’s cabin was one of the most SUV-like spaces in the segment.

That remains an opinion of mine to this day, and in most respects the interior is ageing quite well. There are nice additions to the Series III model, like ISOFIX rear child-seat anchor points (to compliment the top-tether straps of the predecessor), and the storage is all fairly logically laid out - there are cup holders between the front seats, decent bottle holders in all four doors, and some usable loose item stowage where you’d expect it.

Space in the cabin is not bad, especially if you’re a tall back seat passenger. Space in the cabin is not bad, especially if you’re a tall back seat passenger.

The media system is showing its age, with a lack of smartphone mirroring tech and a pixelated display working against what is otherwise a pretty usable system. 

But look, I’d feel a bit ripped off if I was buying an ST-X model and it didn’t come with leather trim - I mean, a low-$40k Triton has it, so why should it be an option on a top-spec Navara? And the fact the option pack includes rear map pockets, but the regular range-topper doesn’t have them? That’s just a bit slack.

Space in the cabin is not bad, though - better, in fact, than the X-Class if you’re a tall back seat passenger, because in the Merc you sit up a lot higher and that impacts on your ability to see out the windows comfortably. But in the Nissan, the seat base isn’t as bolstered, and while it’s not the most comfortable second-row in the ute segment, it’s not the least comfortable, either.

The Navara isn’t that big when you consider its rivals. It measures 5255mm long (on a 3150mm wheelbase), 1850mm wide and 1855mm tall. 

As for tray dimensions, the internal tub measurements of the Navara dual cab pick-up are as follows: 1503mm long, 1560mm wide (but only 1130mm between the wheel arches, so it’s not broad enough to cope with an Aussie pallet), and 474mm deep. 

The internal tub measurements of the Navara dual cab pick-up are as follows: 1503mm long, 1560mm wide and 474mm deep. The internal tub measurements of the Navara dual cab pick-up are as follows: 1503mm long, 1560mm wide and 474mm deep.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Under the bonnet of the Nissan Navara ST-X is a 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel motor, which offers up pretty competitive specifications in the ecosystem of dual cab utes. 

The engine is good for a decent amount of horsepower - we’re talking 140kW of power (at 3750rpm) and 450Nm of torque (from 1500-2500rpm). 

Those power figures relate to the Navara with the seven-speed automatic transmission, and the six-speed manual offers up the same power and torque.

Payload capacity is rated at 931kg for the regular ST-X, but in the models with the optional pack fitted, that drops 11kg to 920kg - that’s not the most you can get at this level, but it is better than some of its direct competitors. The Navara dual cab range has a gross combination mass (GCM) of 5910kg.

The Navara dual cab range has a towing capacity of 750kg for an un-braked trailer, or up to 3500kg for a braked trailer, putting it equal among the best of its peers.

The engine is good for a decent amount of horsepower - we’re talking 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque. The engine is good for a decent amount of horsepower - we’re talking 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque.

How much fuel does it consume?

The fuel consumption claim for the Nissan Navara ST-X dual cab diesel automatic is listed at just 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres, which is very good for the class. 

It largely lives up to the frugality claim in the real world, too. Over a test loop that included a short stint of towing a 2880kg caravan, some extended commuting and a run with 500kg in the tray, we saw consumption of 9.6L/100km, which is better than acceptable.

The Navara has an 80-litre fuel tank capacity, with a theoretical range of 1143km if you can reach the claimed fuel use. Real world, you’re more likely to get about 835km to a full tank.

The fuel consumption claim for the Nissan Navara ST-X dual cab diesel automatic is listed at just 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres. The fuel consumption claim for the Nissan Navara ST-X dual cab diesel automatic is listed at just 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres.

What's it like to drive?

There is no better way to say this; the updated Series III Navara is simply a much better vehicle to drive than its immediate predecessor.

The changes to the steering ratio mean you won't find yourself battling the steering wheel through corners thanks to a quicker action, and it now needs fewer turns lock to lock (down from 4.1 to 3.4) which allows for less arm-twirling during parking moves.

It still has a big 12.4m turning circle (not as big as some, though) and the steering isn’t as fingertip-light at low speeds as, say, the Ford Ranger, but the changes have transformed the drive experience for the better.

The five-link coil-spring rear suspension has been reworked to include dual-rate rear springs, which are said to improve composure when laden. And the revised rear suspension setup also has what Nissan calls a “dynamic rebound damper”, which is essentially a bump stop that helps reduce body movement when loaded up. 

Because of the stuff done under the tray, the back end sits higher as a result, and you will notice it when you’re loading things into the tray if you’re short (or even if you’re not) because it has quite a posture to it.

So, is it more work-ready? Having driven the new Navara with 500 kilograms of weight in the tray, I can attest to the fact that it is considerably better than the model that preceded it. I previously drove a Series II Navara ST with 650kg in the tray and it was a very uncomfortable experience. 

This time around, the suspension is firmer, more compliant with weight in the back, and exhibits less sag at the rear - and therefore less lift at the nose - than it did before.

There is a downside to the rejigged suspension; it is more rigid and jittery at the rear end than it once was, and that might be a little annoying if you don’t intend to load much weight into the back of the ute. But it isn’t as fiercely sharp as some competitor utes when unladen. For mine, it’s completely liveable day to day.

The drivetrain remains one of the better four-cylinder units in the ute space, dealing well with its weight and not struggling when you’ve got more weight on board, either. For comparison’s sake, I had this Navara just a few days after I tested the Mercedes X-Class Power, Toyota HiLux Rugged X and Ford Ranger Wildtrak against each other, and it offered better in-gear acceleration with weight than any of those other utes. It wasn’t as good from a standstill, though, with the transmission a little too eager to hold on to gears rather than shift quickly to remain in the torque band. 

This time around, the suspension is firmer, more compliant with weight in the back, and exhibits less sag at the rear. This time around, the suspension is firmer, more compliant with weight in the back, and exhibits less sag at the rear.

The transmission was a little flummoxed at times when towing the mega 2880kg off-road caravan we had on hand (sorry, we didn’t get any photos), overruling the driver on up/down shift control, but it did a decent job in other situations.

Towing that much weight wasn’t the best experience in the Navara - it was unhappy at speeds over 80km/h, with some notable yaw/sway at that point, and we’d recommend that if you want a more steady towing vehicle for a caravan that big, take a look at a Ford Ranger. If you’re towing 2000kg, it could be just fine.

It wasn’t part of the testing regime this time around to do an off-road review, but the off-road specs of the Navara ST-X are pretty promising. Its approach angle is aggressive at 33.2 degrees, while the departure angle (without towbar) is 28.2deg, and the rampover angle is good, too, at 24.7deg. Unladen ground clearance (mm) is rated at 228 - not bad, either. 

(Author’s note: For what it’s worth, having driven the high-spec X-Class within days of the high-spec Series III Navara, I would go for the Navara… and not only because it costs about $20,000 less...)

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Nissan Navara 2018 range continues to carry a five-star ANCAP crash test rating, which it originally achieved on the first generation of the Navara, back in 2015. The same five-star score applies to a Navara fitted with a genuine steel bullbar or genuine aluminium bullbar.

The standard safety offering across the Navara dual cab range includes seven airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee), but only the dual cab pick-up models get a reversing camera fitted as standard - the cab-chassis models miss out on a camera. 

The ST-X model tested here gets Around View, which is the best camera system available in the range - it’s a surround view camera/360-degree-view system that offers both rear and overhead views. Plus the ST-X has rear parking sensors, which is helpful when you’re trying to park in tight spots.

The dual cab pick-up models get a reversing camera fitted as standard, but the cab-chassis models miss out on a camera. The dual cab pick-up models get a reversing camera fitted as standard, but the cab-chassis models miss out on a camera.

For parents, there are now dual ISOFIX child-seat anchor points and top-tether straps as well. Series I and II versions of the Navara didn't have ISOFIX.

But unlike a few of the competitor utes out there, this top-spec model misses out on smart safety systems like auto emergency braking (AEB - standard on its cousin, the X-Class), forward collision warning, lane departure warning and/or lane keeping assist, active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring… yeah, it’s missing plenty of stuff for a top-spec ute.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Nissan backs its vehicles with a three-year/100,000km warranty, which is about what you’ll get from most ute sellers. But there are better warranty plans out there from the likes of Isuzu and Mitsubishi (both five-year/unlimited km).

Servicing is due every 12 months or 20,000km - those are very trade-friendly intervals, meaning only one trip the service department per year, unless you do a lot of long-distance driving. The maintenance plan covers the Navara to six years/120,000km, whichever occurs first.

The costs of the the services, though, are comparatively high. For a diesel automatic Navara, the service costs are: service one - $547; service two - $571; service three - $714; service four - $571; service five - $547; service six - $738.

All Navara models have a three-year roadside assistance program that is included at purchase - a nice touch the goes a little of the way to sweetening the sour taste of a short warranty and expensive servicing.

The updated Nissan Navara ST-X definitely did not garner the attention it deserved at launch, because this is definitely an improvement on the previous iteration of this brand’s ute.

It isn’t a benchmark setter, and it lacks some equipment that its competitors have, but when it comes to actually offering ute buyers a strong and stable double-cab option, the Series III Navara is a good value offering that deserves a second look. 

Would you choose a Navara over one of its competitors? Let us know in the comments section below.

$44,900 - $53,490

Based on 11 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.7/5

Tradies score

3.7/5
Price Guide

$44,900 - $53,490

Based on 11 car listings in the last 6 months