After our comparison test of the Navara Pro-4X and Ford’s Ranger FX4 Max, we held on to the Nissan, only for it to be stuck at NZ Autocar HQ in lockdown. Its duties thereafter were limited to grocery runs and taking the kids and their bikes on (localised) adventures.
Navara now has a larger tray with taller wellsides, giving it more capacity. It swallows the bikes easily and is a great place to have lunch when you’re out and about but the groceries are better stashed in the cab. Picking up the shopping isn’t exactly what a ute was designed for, even if plenty of people use them for just that. The flip-up seats in the rear of the cab are handy for such jobs, providing a flat space and you can stash quite a bit back there.
A ute without a tonneau cover ain’t much use, especially if the cab is full of family members but the aftermarket is awash with options. We’ve tried plenty, yet there isn’t a perfect solution; it all depends on your needs. Hard lids provide better security but limit what you can fit on the back. Soft options are more versatile but are fiddly in operation.
Speaking of accessories, Nissan has launched a whole swag of them with the updated Navara, though only one is a tonneau cover. Lifestyle options include ski and snowboard racks and bike carriers for the roof, along with a 410L storage pod. We’d opt for the all-weather rubber mats for the cabin which have a lip around their edge to contain the muck. The regular carpet mats aren’t much chop.
Of more use to work trucks is a sports bar with an integrated rack, so you can actually carry something on the back. Being Nissan Genuine Accessories, the company claims to have put them through a rigorous testing regime, while they have a ‘perfect fit’, given they are designed by Nissan for a Nissan. And they are covered by a one-year, 20,000km warranty.
Those buying the Pro-4X might be tempted to beef up the look further with a bull bar, the optional LED light bar and winch. The latter is rated to pull 4500kg, though you’ll probably have to upgrade your front springs given the added weight of these big beefy bars.
Most think the look of the Pro-4X is bang on, and tend to ask how it fares off road. “Yeah, pretty well”, we say, playing along, not letting on that the beach is as far off the tarmac as we’ve taken it. The 4×4 clicks into action quick smart on the fly but, being the old fashioned sort, expect some binding of the driveline when turning. The all terrain tyres don’t adversely affect the handling in day-to-day running. Neither do they rumble like proper chunky pluggers, and they have the desired effect of adding to the macho imagery.
The new Navara hasn’t gained the benefits of active cruise control, even this $70k, top-of-the-line model, but it has been upgraded with a few safety minders, including forward collision warning and braking, and blind spot monitoring. The lane departure mitigation uses the brakes to help drag you back on line, as the Navara still has hydraulically-assisted steering so can’t self-steer. The benefits of this gadget we can live without, and it can be permanently switched out, unlike the overly sensitive system in the D-Max/BT-50 ute.
The infotainment system is logically set out and therefore easy to use. It also features a surround view camera and, while it isn’t blessed with the greatest resolution, it is handy to have on a rig with a big turning circle. You usually don’t have great expectations of a ute’s cabin, though the Pro’s is nicely appointed, its embellished leather trim and red accents gel with the exterior tart ups, and Navara owners trading up will welcome the new steering wheel, as it’s more user friendly. We also like whatever they have done to the steering itself, now more direct around centre. And Navara is one of the more refined rigs, the unladen ride agreeable (much more so than the bucking Isuzu/Mazda models) and the engine now less intrusive than it used to be.
As to fuel use, the trip computer gets stuck on 9.7/100km for town running, dropping nearer to 9.0 the further you go on highway roads. And here you’ll find it a quiet cruiser, with enough punch from the engine to execute an overtake when you need to slide by something.
Utes will come in for an added fee next year as part of the Government’s Clean Car Discount, the Navara likely to be stung almost $3000. But there are still a few months left to get in before the price rises.
|Model||Nissan Navara Pro-4X|
|Engine||2298cc, IL4, TDI|
|Drivetrain||7-speed automatic, selectable 4×4|