Test: Nissan Navara ST-X

The newly revised 18-model strong 2021 Nissan Navara line-up is fit-for-purpose… whatever purpose you have in mind.

Today, the average Kiwi motor camp at Christmas is home to more utes than a quarrying and mining industry conference car park. And apparently, rural folk still like them as well.
While the modern ute has become a byword for ‘lifestyle’ in a way that no other automotive market segment or body style has before, a decent ute still goes a long way in the ag sector. Utes remain big business. And right on cue, the latest generation of one of the biggest in the segment has arrived.

Distilling decades of development

The latest Navara’s styling updates are unapologetically American influenced

This is the new Nissan Navara: the fourth generation of Nissan’s perennial light truck to wear the Navara nameplate, which debuted in 1986. It’s also the most advanced product to date from over 80 years of Nissan light commercial truck engineering. It has to be, as the market for these things has never been more competitive.

No ute manufacturer in the history of light commercial vehicles has ever reduced the rugged in their next top model. And unsurprisingly, Nissan has taken the already pretty butch D23-era Navara blueprint and beefed it up again for its next-gen terrain tackler.

The styling changes are most notable when looking at the new Navara head-on: there’s an unapologetic nod to the North American market Nissan Titan pick-up truck in the redesigned quad LED headlight clusters and that big chrome frame around the ute’s grille.

There’s plenty of new detailing on show at the back of Nissan’s biggest-selling model too. An obvious point of difference is the ‘Navara’ stamped tailgate. But look closer and you’ll see the entire wellside tray has been redrawn to include a slightly higher load bed and a new sprung tailgate which can quite literally be raised and lowered with a single finger: a big change from the heavy metal slab that preceded it.

Most popular

The comfort and convenience hit-list has been added to in the new ute

While our evaluation ute isn’t the halo PRO-4X grade, which comes with its own athletic accents, like blacked-out detailing, roof racks, and grade specific all-terrain tyres (plus a whole lot more swag besides), the trusty white Double Cab ST-X iteration you see here remains the most popular option for Kiwi buyers. Nearly a third of Navaras sold nationwide will be ST-X grade trucks, so you can consider this a good catch-all for the latest advancements Nissan has unveiled with the new 2021 model.

But there remains plenty of choice besides. Navaras are available with both 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains across three cab styles – Single, King, and Double Cab – while there remain four six-speed manual transmission models in the 18-strong line-up (including a 4×4 PRO-4X manual) and 14 seven-speed autos. Both wellside tray and cab-chassis configurations are available too of course.

The majority of the Navara range is powered by a gutsy 2.3-litre intercooled twin turbodiesel producing 140kW peak power and 450Nm of torque. The entry-level 2WD Manual Double Cab SL arrives with a 2.3-litre single turbodiesel under the bonnet, delivering 120kW peak power and 403Nm of torque.

Tech meets tough

The majority of the range is powered by a 2.3L twin turbo diesel, delivering 140kW and 450Nm

Befitting the Navara’s joint role as workday weapon and family transport, Nissan has ensured the latest convenience and safety technology features are onboard.

Juxtaposing the ute’s tough character and its handy 3500kg braked towing capacity is a significant upgrade in equipment supported by a suite of advanced Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies.

On ST grades and above, passenger vehicle safety features such as Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Parking Sensors, and a clever ‘Around View’ camera system are all standard. This last piece of kit mimics a ‘bird’s-eye’ view of the truck and its surrounds in real time, ensuring you don’t accidentally back into that carelessly discarded pallet beyond the frame of your side mirrors as you manoeuvre out of the yard.

In addition to the latest infotainment upgrades accessed through a wider eight-inch touchscreen, the new Navara is quieter and more comfortable for passengers too. Increased amounts of sound deadening insulation has reduced on-road noise for both driver and occupants, while in Double Cab models, the rear seats are now even more comfortable with upgrades to the seat cushions and back shapes.


Revised tailgate hinge system makes for opening and shutting simplicity

The Navara has been a truck as suited to the back blocks as it increasingly is to the streets of the suburbs for a couple of generations now.

While Toyota and Ford continue to duke it out at the top of the ute sales charts, the all-new Navara is a pertinent reminder that those brands don’t have a duopoly on ‘tough’. With fresh updates to the bodywork and the general tech feature set in the cab as well, the latest offering from Nissan certainly appeals and looks set to hold its own.

Nissan Navara Double Cab ST-X 4×4 specifications

Engine 2.3L twin-turbo diesel 
Power 140kW
Torque 450Nm
Transmission 7-speed automatic 
Overall length 5255mm
Width (excl. side mirrors)  1875mm
Overall height 1830mm
Turning circle kerb-to-kerb 12.5m
Ground clearance (unladen)  224mm
Wading depth 600mm
Cargo bed floor L 1509mm x W 1560mm
Cargo bed height 519mm
Gross Vehicle Mass 3150kg
Payload 1019kg
Braked towing capacity 3.5T 
Wheels and tyres 18″ alloy wheels with 255/60/R18 tyres

Find new and used farm machinery for sale in NZ 

Photography: Vinesh Kumaran

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