We love having a big, sprawling four-wheel-drive at our house, swayed of course by its rugged nature, no-nonsense appearance and its innate ability to approach all challenges as adventures. What better way test it than the week you are moving house?
The Nissan Navara ST made numerous trips to the dump and the Salvation Army, making hasty work of, “but it’s precious to me” mountain my girls have gathered over the last few years, and the “you can’t throw away a good shirt” pile my husband has accumulated over the last two decades.
Not many changes have been to the latest Nissan Navara dual-cab but those that have are quick to make an impact and with that enhance the ute’s flavour.
With its muscular stance and boxy profile, the Navara is one of the better looking dual-cab utes around. Signature running lights and new projector headlights add some interest to the exterior. Along with the polished side step, chrome accents, used sparingly mind you, and the chunky sports bar on the tub.
If the interior of this updated Navara looks familiar, it’s because it is. Nothing has changed here but it probably didn’t need to, although it wouldn’t have hurt to allow the steering a reach adjustment to accompany the rake.
The cabin is rather pleasant, workmanlike with a hint of style – and it takes nary a minute to get your bearings. The relevant layout and uncluttered design allows for ease of use.
Seats are comfortable and supportive enough accommodating both my feminine shoulders and my husband’s much broader pair. The kids were suitably ensconced in the second row, a nicely-shaped angled pew keeping complaints to a minimum.
Storage options are fair with places to keep phones and incidentals, usefully shaped cup holders and generous door bins.
The centre console bin and glovebox are smaller than you would expect. Someone that’s likely to annoy for tradespeople who use their utes as offices.
Dual-cab utes have certainly made technological advancements in the last few years and the Navara’s 7.0-inch integrated multi-function touchscreen is a pleasing result of that. It could be a bit bigger given the size of this vehicle but graphics quality is good, the system is intuitive to use and smartphone integration via Nissan Connect is easy to achieve.
There is a single USB port, four 12V outlets, including one in the tub, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at this time.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The Nissan dual-cab ST is powered by a 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel, the gruntier of the two engines that drive this Navara range. The 140kW/450Nm unit, which comes from Renault, is not the most powerful in the class but does enough to spirit the ute along although it does take more than a moment to draw breath when pushed under load.
The seven-speed automatic transmission makes informed choices moving through the gears astutely to underline a pleasant driving experience.
The Navara gets seven airbags, including curtain airbags for rear seat passengers. Stability and traction control as well as hill descent control and hillstart assist.
The reversing camera is clear and precise and offers good guidance, especially in the absence of reverse sensors.
You will need the top-of-the-range ST-X is you want blind spot monitoring, overhead camera view and proximity key, but even that model will have to wait for autonomous emergency braking.
Navara had previously set itself apart from the rest of the class by using coil springs at the rear rather than the leaf springs favoured by other brands.
The point of difference for the updated dual-cab Navara is the improvement in overall driving dynamics thanks to the new dual-pitch coil springs at the rear. Basically this means that the twists in the lower half of the coil are closer together than at the top.
The changes have been made following criticism that Navara sometimes behaved erratically around road bumps, slow and steady one minute, and all wallowy and inefficient the next. But this dual-pitch setup means the Navara is capable of a comfortable ride with no load and a more supportive ride under load.
The difference is noticeable. The ST doesn’t jiggle around half as much as it did, it is more composed and predictable over a series of bumps and it just feels better balanced.
Nissan has also retuned the power steering and adjusted the ratios so that you don’t have to turn the steering wildly to get around a roundabout. The turning circle is unchanged.
The Navara is no ballet dancer, which ute is? It’s quite simple to drive but will struggle at times when asked to perform under load, the extra effort resulting in a loud protest but it can be persuaded to keep its head.
Off the beaten track, the Navara once again impresses almost finding the nimbleness that is elusive on the road. It scrambles and clamours over challenging terrain with glee but battles a bit with the shorter suspension when the going is really rough.
There will be limited resentment at the fuel pump with the Navara not straying too far from the official 7.0L/100km.
Nissan gives a three year, 100,000km warranty with service intervals at 20,000km or 12 months. A ‘service certainty’ program sees fixed-price servicing for the first six years ($3700).
Nissan Navara proved a most willing companion during our week in the seat showing the sort of determination and easy accomplishments we expect from a high functioning dual-cab ute. This Series 3 update has added a spring to its step and definitely makes for a ute worth considering.
Nissan Navara 4×4 dual-cab ST pricing and specifications:
Price: from $49,990 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.3-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel
Output: 140kW and 450Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed auto, 4WD
Fuel: 7.0L/100km (ADR Combined)
Warranty: Three years 100,000 kilometres
Safety Rating: Five Star ANCAP
What we liked:
More predictable ride
What we didn’t:
Short on power especially under load
Limited features package