While the rise and rise in popularity of SUVs has been the most obvious feature of the Australian motoring scene in recent years utilities (aka utes, pick-up trucks, etc) have ridden the wave of that popularity to such an extent that they have consistently occupied many of the top-three slots in the overall national sales charts.
Indeed, dual-cab utes have effectively become quasi-SUVs, providing the same practical family transport solutions, albeit with an alternative mode of storage, but versatile enough to take on the more traditional heavy-duty work of utes.
Nissan was at the forefront of this change with its evolution when, in late 2005, it began importing a second Navara model, designated the D40 Navara, to sell alongside the existing workhorse D22 Navara workhouse .
Like most of its competitors Navara is sold in a variety of bodies, everything from a bare bones cab-chassis, through single cab and extended cab to a four-door double cab. That latter configuration is by far the most popular and the latest updated version, launched in December 2020, is the subject of this review.
The upgrade included some model changes, a facelift, upgraded safety and additional driver-assist technologies.
The new model range now runs: SL, ST, ST-X and the recently-added, off-road oriented PRO-X. Prices range from $32,000 to $60,630 plus on-road costs.
Styling changes for the latest Navara are dominated at the front where a much bolder chrome surrounded grille shows the way.
These are large vehicles so the rear seats can take three adults, though, as is generally the way, two and a child will be more comfortable. There’s good head and legroom.
The touchscreen and controls are all large and sensibly located to be within easy reach of the driver.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Power comes from a choice of two Renault-sourced 2.3-litre common-rail four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engines one single, the other a twin turbo. The single turbo in Navara SL produces 120kW and 403Nm. The twin turbo has 140kW, and 403 Nm (manual) and 450Nm (automatic) from 1500rpm to 2500 rpm.
Seven -speed automatic is standard in all variants with six-speed manuals also widely available.
Standard safety equipment includes seven airbags (front, side seat, curtain and driver knee): stability and traction control; enhanced ABS brakes; Hill Start Assist; Trailer Sway Control; Daytime Running Lights; Intelligent Forward Collision Warning; Intelligent Emergency Braking and Driver Alert; LED High Mounted Stop Light and automatic headlights.
Models from ST-X up get a reversing camera; reverse parking sensors; Hill Descent Control; Lane Departure Warning and Intervention; Blind Spot Warning and Intervention; Rear Cross Traffic Alert; Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection; and LED Signature daytime running lights.
All Dual Cab Navara variants now has a payload capacity of at least one tonne
Standard in all Navara variants are two screens, a 7.0-inch Advanced Drive-Assist instrument cluster display, and a high-definition 8.0-inch touchscreen display. Also, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and four USB sockets. Satellite navigation and DAB+ digital radio are added to models above SL.
Our test Navara was the ST-X 4×4 Dual Cab ute.
Access is excellent with no stooping or climbing required. The seats are large, supportive and comfortable although the lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel did restrict our choice of driving position.
Around town it’s easy to forget that you’re driving a light commercial vehicle rather than an SUV.
Visibility is excellent to the front and side although somewhat restricted to the rear with its three-panel window arrangement and headrests. The reason for the three windows is that the centre one can slide open to provide limited access to the tray.
Parking can be a bit if a challenge thanks to Navara’s bulk and a 12.5-metre turning circle. All models do come with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors with our ST-X also having a 360-degree camera.
The twin-turbo engine, which Navara shares with the Mercedes-Benz X-Class ute is right up with the best in its class.
Fuel consumption of 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle is listed for the Navara ST-X. We averaged 9.9 L/100 km during our week-long test.
Out onto the motorway and backroads there’s little road noise intrusion and the cabin has a refined feel.
There’s also a reassuring feel to the Navara’s handling and cornering.
We were able to co-ordinate the timing of our Navara road test with some overdue home and garden renovations so were able to get a feel with ballast to the tray. The tray is relatively high which made loading a bit awkward.
We didn’t need to use the $1000 towbar kit fitted to the car which allows for up to 3500 kg to be pulled with a braked trailer.
Aussie buyers love dual-cab utes and most of the mainstream brands have something to offer. Navara sits around mid-field in the sales chart which is a bit of a surprise given it’s been around since 1986. The new model should give sales a boost.
Nissan is offering attractive drive-away prices so make sure you get in there and haggle.
All Nissan models now come with the five-year unlimited kilometre warranty which is steadily become the industry standard.
AT A GLANCE
SL Single Cab Chassis Cab 4X2: $32,300 (manual), $34,800 (automatic)
SL Single Cab Chassis Cab 4X4: $39,300 (manual), $41,800 (automatic)
SL King Cab Chassis Cab 4X2: $38,800 (automatic)
SL King Cab Chassis Cab 4X4: $45,800 (automatic)
SL Dual Cab Pickup 4X2: $39,600 (manual), $42,100 (automatic)
SL King Cab Pickup 4X4: $47,600 (automatic)
SL Dual Cab Chassis Cab 4X4: $44,800 (manual), $47,300 (automatic)
SL Dual Cab Pickup 4X4: $46,600 (manual), $49,100 (automatic)
ST Dual Cab Pickup 4X2: $47,780 (automatic)
ST Dual Cab Pickup 4X4: $52,280 (manual), $54,780 (automatic)
ST-X Dual Cab Pickup 4X2: $51,270 (automatic)
ST-X King Cab Pickup 4X4: $58,270 (automatic)
ST-X Dual Cab Pickup 4X4: $55,770 (manual), $58,270 (automatic)
PRO-4X Dual Cab Pickup 4X4: $58,130 (manual), $60,630 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Nissan dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Nissan Navara PRO-4X 2.3-litre turbo-diesel four-door utility)
Capacity: 2.298 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 140 kW @ 3750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 450 Nm @ 1500 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.1 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 213 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5311 mm
Wheelbase: 3150 mm
Width: 1875 mm
Height: 1855 mm
Turning Circle: 12.5 metres
Kerb Mass: 2146 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres