The ute market continues to be hugely popular, which explains why manufacturers are keen to upgrade their products and stay fresh for new buyers. The latest update to the popular Nissan Navara brings the current model (first released in 2015) to what Nissan refers to as Series 4.
The major change to the new Navara are to the car’s infotainment system, but there is also the new top-spec model - called N-Trek - which we are reviewing here.
The N-Trek is a special edition, designed to go up against similar offerings from rivals, such as the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and the Toyota HiLux Rugged X. Based on the top-spec Navara ST-X Dual Cab, the N-Trek receives a host of cosmetic and equipment upgrades, giving it a more distinctive look.
Priced from $56,450 (plus on-road costs) for the six-speed manual and $58,950 for the seven-speed auto, the N-Trek is about $3700 more than the car on which it is based, and for that… well, you get a lot of black bits and some stickers.
The 2019 Nissan Navara N-Trek comes with all that you get in the ST-X, plus what other manufacturers would usually refer to as a Black Pack.
For Nissan, that means 18-inch black alloys, black wheel arch extensions, a black alloy sports bar, black lower body side decals, black LED headlight bezels, black side steps with orange accent, black lower front fascia with orange accent, black mirror caps with orange accent, a black rear bumper, front grille, fog-light surrounds, door handles and roof rails.
Jump inside and the black and orange theme continues with black partial leather trim with orange fabric inserts, heated front seats, orange accent stitching throughout the cabin, and electric adjustment for the driver’s seat including lumbar.
The 8.0-inch ‘Alliance In-Vehicle Infotainment’ system (AIVI) finally gets Apple along with a new interface, AM/FM radio, USB, AUX and Bluetooth connections. There is also no longer a CD player.
As the major change to the Navara, we spent a lot of time playing with the new infotainment system and found it a huge improvement over the old one in terms of speed, ease of use and general feel.
We found Apple CarPlay to be flawless and with iOS 13 set to introduce a further update to the software, it should soon be even better.
We continue to be surprised by the fact Nissan puts its very useful bird’s eye view rear-view camera system in the car (showing a top-down view), yet continues its use of an incredibly low-resolution camera that makes a mockery of the new 8.0-inch screen.
The camera quality is so poor, the rear-view system may as well be a pirated movie, as it’s akin to watching a YouTube video from 2004. On dial-up.
In the previous Series 3 upgrades, Nissan did a lot of work on the suspension, including a great deal of local tuning. The Navara is a friendly vehicle that drives very much like a car.
We found the ride to a little unsettled without a load in the back, but if you actually intend to use your ute as… well, a ute, then with a bit of weight in the back it will ride a lot better. Even so, it’s definitely comfortable enough.
If you have kids, they will have plenty of space in the rear. Nonetheless, it’s not as big inside as some of its rivals so if you’re thinking about having four adults in the car often, the Navara might prove a tad small.
The Nissan diesel engine is perhaps starting to show its age, given it's one of the smallest engines in the commercial ute class at 2.3 litres, but it’s by no means uncompetitive, its twin-turbo setup pumping out a competitive 140kW and 450Nm.
Compare that to 2.8 litres outputting 147kW/500Nm for the Holden Colorado, a similar 2.8 litres but 130kW/450Nm in the Toyota HiLux, 3.2 litres for the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50, both rated at 147kW/470Nm, and 3.0 litres for the Isuzu D-Max with 130kW/430Nm, and the Navara doesn’t stack up too badly. Nor does its 3500kg braked towing capacity.
We spent a good week in Brisbane with the N-Trek, including a drive up to Gatton with the kids and found it a very usable and family-friendly ute. Nissan claims a slim 7.0L/100km fuel-consumption figure, but despite the enormous amounts of highway travel without a load, the best we managed was 9.5L/100km.
It’s a good engine though and the way it revs out and delivers its torque is rather linear, though it would be fair to say it’s a touch noisy and feels a little less refined than either the newer Hilux or Ford’s ever-popular Ranger.
Overall, the Nissan Navara remains a popular choice with buyers and for good reason. Nissan offers a five-year warranty and six-year capped-price servicing, with 12-month or 20,000km intervals.
Pricing for the first three visits will cost $547, $571, and $714 respectively plus an extra $32 for brake fluid every two years or 40,000km.
There are plenty of choices for Navara buyers, too. The Navara Dual Cab has the largest range, including three 4x2 alternatives including the RX, ST and ST-X four 4x4 options, the RX, SL, ST & ST-X and one RX cab Chassis 4x4. There are 27 Pickup and eight Cab Chassis options, and 10 4x2 and 25 4x4 alternatives.
Perhaps the only real question is, why pick the Navara N-Trek? After all, while it has a lot of black and some nice stickers, it’s hard to justify the $3700 price increase over the already well-equipped and good looking ST-X.
Frankly, if you want the ultimate Navara, you won't blink an eye, but if you want to save the cash and still have it all (minus the cosmetic work), stick with the standard range and you won’t be disappointed.