It'll come as a shock to absolutely no one, that the 4x4 ute is rapidly rocketing up the charts in Australia as the go-to family chariot. In 2018, 15 per cent, or one in every six or seven new vehicles sold in Australia, was a 4x4 ute. That sort of dominance was only bested by the small car and small SUV segments, both capturing 17 per cent of the market.
Because utes are such a popular option for families and businesses alike, many of them will rarely see conditions harsher than the odd gutter. And that's a shame, because they are capable of so much more. Take our own CarAdvice Nissan Navara.
It's a 2017 Navara SL, which has been busy conquering the urban jungles of Melbourne and Sydney. Carparks and shopping centres are a tough environment, and the CA Navara has the scars to prove it. The SL specification isn't available anymore, which is a bit of a shame. It combined the 140kW twin-turbocharged engine with steel wheels and a basic interior. Perfect then, for a few modifications.
The real beauty of a 4x4, in my opinion, is that although they are more capable off the showroom floor than many give them credit for, they can be transformed into something even more special.
Thanks to Australia's huge, vibrant and world-renowned aftermarket industry, you can really go crazy on just about any vehicle, depending on what you're looking for: awesome off-road capability, long-range desert runs, remote beach fishing, or if you just want to be a weekend warrior and enjoy some camping and off-roading.
The good news is you really don't need to go crazy. Most (if not all) modern 4WDs are quite good out of the box, and can be augmented with some fairly straightforward mods. Basic bolt-on stuff, that will improve your capability and durability, and allow you to tailor the performance of the vehicle to your own needs.
Now we've got the keys to the Navara, our plan is to show you what is possible, with the help of a few aftermarket tweaks. After we make some modifications, we'll put the Navara to the test in some of Australia's best, and most challenging, off-road destinations.
The first step is the the most straightforward and the most beneficial: tyres and suspension. Check out the video to see all of the details.
Click on the Photos tab for more images of the CarAdvice Nissan Navara going under the knife