Reviewed for you: Nissan Navara

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23 May 2019 by smartleasing

The Nissan Navara used to be one of the country’s best-selling dual-cab utes, but it’s fair to say the D23 Navara has failed to hit the mark with sales falling away. Much of this was because of its unique rear coil springs which caused poor towing and load carrying which prompted two quick succession suspension retunes.  So, has it been a case of third time lucky for Nissan?

What’s the price and what do you get?

Like other utes, there are single- and crew-cab and 4x2 Navara variants but as far as sales are concerned 4x4 variants are where the volume is. And here, the Navara RX 4x4 starts from $42,990+ORCs. The SL 4x4 is priced at $46,490+ORCs and runs steel wheels, flared guards, side steps, LED headlights, a digital compass, rear locking differential and quicker steering compared to 4x2.

But Nissan gets most of its sales volume from the $49,690+ORCs ST and $54,490+ORCs ST-X. The former offers 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, sports bar, leather-wrapped steering wheel and satellite navigation on a 7.0in touchscreen to the mix. This latter flagship then adds 18in alloys, keyless auto-entry with push-button start and electric-fold door mirrors, a tub liner, hill-descent control, rear parking sensors and a 360-degree camera. It then asks $1500 for leather trim with an electrically adjustable driver’s seat and heated front seats, then another $1000 for a sunroof.

What’s the interior like?

Hard plastic is generally the order of the day when it comes to dual-cab utes, even those costing $50k. But, compared with key rivals the Navara ST and ST-X feel a step behind with a cabin that feels a little cramped, and storage isn’t amazing either. The dash has a real passenger car look, but beyond some contrasting trims it’s all very black and dull and the infotainment screen while it features native sat-nav misses out on Apple or Android connectivity.

What’s the passenger space like?

The front seats are broad and comfortable, but they lack any real side support for when the going gets bumpy. That said, there’s decent length in the base which will make those with longer legs happy on longer drives. But the back seat is one of the least comfortable in the segment with a very upright backrest and short seat base, meaning you sit in a real knees-up position compromising its potential as a work-and-play vehicle.

What’s the tray like?

The tray measures 1503mm long which is shorter than the tray on a Mitsubishi Triton, but it’s a good 90mm wider than the Triton’s tray. The top-spec variants get a tub liner, and you can also get Nissan’s clever tie-down system. But the headline grabber for the back of the Navara is the changes to the rear suspension. The softer rear coil springs have been replaced with stiffer, variable rate ones which are much better at handling a load than before, and allow for a more comfortable ride when fully loaded. It’s worth noting, only the SL, ST and ST-X 4×4 dual cabs take the new suspension tune as well. But Nissan reckons 90% of buyers pick the dual-cab, 83% of them choose one of those grades and 80% of the total select 4×4 so at least most buyers get the upgrades.

What’s under the bonnet?

Depending on the variant, you’ll get either a 2.3-litre four-cylinder (single) turbo-diesel or a twin-turbo offering a segment-competitive 140kW and 450Nm of torque. We’ll talk about the latter as it’s proven to be the most popular and it’s a ripper. Although in typical diesel fashion, it’s quite noisy at idle, it smooths out once you get going. It’s mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission which does an excellent job of keeping the engine humming with impressive response when you need it.

What’s it like on the road?

It’s much better more of the time than it used to be. Before its update, the Navara felt very comfortable unladen, and you could almost have described the ride as SUV-like, but put anything heavier than a push bike into the back and the old car used to drag its backside along the road. Not anymore. It’s comfortable across 90 per cent of surfaces whether loaded or not only becoming a little jittery across country back roads when driven at speed but, hey, it’s a dual cab ute, and beyond the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok they all feel like this. Driven off-road the Navara is comfortable and capable, and the basic 4x4 system, 4x2, 4x4 (only to be used on low-traction surfaces like dirt) and 4x4Lo and rear differential lock is effective and on-par with competitor 4x4 utes.

What safety features does it get?

The Nissan Navara continues with its five-star ANCAP rating from 2015, but it lacks any sort of active safety which other dual-cab makers are fast shoehorning into their vehicles. So, you get seven airbags, traction and stability controls and depending on the variant, a surround view monitor, reversing camera and rear parking sensors, but that’s it. There’s no autonomous emergency braking, or blind-spot monitoring, all things you get on Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton now.

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