Nissan Navara 2019 n-trek warrior (4x4), Nissan Navara 2020 n-trek special edition (4x4)
launch-review

2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior review

Australian first drive

Rating: 8.2
$52,820 $62,810 Dealer
  • Fuel Economy
    6.5L
  • Engine Power
    140kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    172g
  • ANCAP Rating
    5Stars
Nissan has introduced a rival to the Toyota HiLux Rugged X, Ford Ranger Raptor and HSV Colorado SportsCat.
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The Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior is more than just a tough-looking ute, it’s a sign of the times.

You can see our raging appetite for double-cab pick-ups just from sitting in traffic. But there is a new trend emerging. We’ve officially entered the era of the mega ute.

While it is fair to say boys have been lifting the suspension and adding bullbars to their toys since the invention of the shovel, the difference now is car makers themselves are getting in on the act.

In the past two years we’ve seen the introduction of locally-modified, showroom-ready utes that already have the tough bits added.

The Toyota HiLux Rugged X, the Ford Ranger Raptor, and the HSV Colorado SportsCat all arrived seemingly within moments of each other.

They weren’t copying each other’s homework (it takes years, not weeks to develop these vehicles), it was because they all spotted the same trend on showroom floors.

More buyers than ever before are spending north of $60,000 on these tough trucks. In fact, it’s one few segments in the struggling car market that’s growing.

Rather than the customer buying a ute as a ‘starter pack’ and then spending up to $20,000 on accessories, car companies are trying to create ready-to-go vehicles so they can grab a larger slice of the profit from these add-ons.

Now we have a new entrant in the tough truck space, the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior. Although most people have already started to abbreviate its name to simply the Navara Warrior

The regular Nissan Navara and its predecessors have been a staple of the Australian ute market for decades, but the latest generation that went on sale in 2015 has had mixed success.

In addition to the almost annual updates to improve the cargo-carrying ability of the Navara’s rear suspension, Nissan has now turned its attention to the top end of the ute market.

With the help of Premcar, the Melbourne engineering firm previously responsible for Ford Performance Vehicles – including the modern-day Falcon GT – Nissan has finally created a rival to the big boys.

This Nissan Navara arrives into Melbourne from the Thailand factory in factory-standard condition before getting the Warrior treatment.

A new bullbar, LED light bar, high-riding and heavy duty suspension, new wheels, special off-road tyres, and a new tow bar (to compensate for the increase in height) are fitted at the Melbourne facility before the vehicles are trucked to showrooms ready-to-roll.

All the parts have the same five-year warranty as the rest of the vehicle because they were tested and developed locally. The bullbar is airbag compatible.

It normally takes years to develop vehicles from scratch but Nissan got a head-start by enlisting local help.

The Premcar team went from a clean sheet of paper to showroom-ready in 12 months, giving Nissan the ability to respond to the booming ute market much faster than if it had waited for a factory-built option.

It’s a similar formula adopted by the Toyota HiLux Rugged X and HSV Colorado SportsCat. In both cases these utes arrive into Melbourne – also from Thailand, the Detroit of the Asia-Pacific region, as it is known – in standard form before locally-developed and locally-engineered parts are fitted.

The exception is the Ford Ranger Raptor which arrives into Australia ready to roll without the need for further mods from a factory in, you guessed it, Thailand.

But they all have the same philosophy: they’re big and brash and appeal to buyers with a lot of cash.

It’s apparent Nissan plans to make up lost ground due to weak sales of regular Navara models. In boxing terms, it has come out swinging on price.

The Nissan Navara Warrior six-speed manual starts from $62,990 drive-away while the seven-speed auto is $65,490 drive-away.

In round numbers that’s $20,000 cheaper than segment pioneer, the Ford Ranger Raptor, which costs from $84,700 to $87,400 drive-away (prices vary because stamp duty changes from state to state).

The Nissan Navara Warrior also undercuts the HSV Colorado SportsCat by between $2000 and $10,000 – and shadows the current offer on the Toyota HiLux Rugged X, which is $63,990 drive-away.

Based on the Nissan Navara N-Trek, standard equipment includes dual zone air-conditioning and rear air vents (a rarity in the ute class), a sensor key with push-button start, heated sports seats, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, a digital speedometer, and power folding mirrors.

It lacks advanced safety such as autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, blind-zone warning and rear cross-traffic alert – some or all of which are available on the top-selling Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton – but the Navara Warrior is one of the few in the segment with a 360-degree camera.

While the Navara maintains a five-star safety rating based on 2015 test results, it would not earn top marks if re-assessed to today’s more stringent standards without these advanced safety aids.

Towing capacity remains 3500kg (the same as the HSV Colorado SportsCat), which is more than the Toyota HiLux Rugged X auto (3200kg) and the Ford Ranger Raptor (2500kg).

However, payload has taken a bit of a hit thanks to the weight of the accessories that have been added. It’s a still respectable 724kg to 730kg, though slightly less than its direct rivals (see spec tables below).

Routine service costs over five years are high ($3066 for the manual and $3035 for the auto) but online pricing shows the Toyota HiLux costs even more over the same period because it requires routine maintenance every six months. However, as our table below shows, while the Ford Ranger Raptor might be dearest to buy, it is the cheapest to service.

On the road

Nissan’s media preview drive was held in the Victorian Alps near Mount Hotham, along Blue Rag Track, which is only open in the warmer months of the year.

At 1600 metres above sea level it feels like the top of the world. Well, the top of Australia at least. It would be regarded as a hill in Europe.

But it is seriously rugged country, with countless peaks and troughs, creek crossings and some near-impossible climbs up steep and rutted tracks better suited to dirt bikes.

Fortunately, the extra ground clearance helps the Navara Warrior tackle those obstacles, and the special-purpose off-road tyres can find more grip than standard rubber.

The suspension has only been lifted 15mm, the rest of the ride height gain to reach an improved ground clearance figure of 268mm comes from the taller profile tyres.

The Cooper Discoverer AT3 All-Terrain (275/70/17) are not as aggressive as the Cooper Zeon LTZ Pro Sports on the HSV SportsCat, but they do have more tread depth than the standard Navara tyre.

For the technically-minded, the Cooper Discoverer AT3’s tread depth of 12.7mm is 5mm more than the standard Navara tyre but still less than the 14mm to 15mm tread depth found on many mud terrain tyres.

The 17-inch alloys also have a slightly wider offset (15mm each side) to create a slightly wider track (1600mm) and a bigger overall footprint.

The approach angle has improved from 33.2 to 35 degrees, however the departure angle is much worse than the standard Navara (28.2 to 19 degrees) because the Warrior not only has a tow bar, but it tapers down to compensate for the taller ride height.

Incidentally, the entire tow bar assembly is new on the Warrior; it needed to be redesigned to accomodate the full size spare with a taller tyre profile.

The shock absorbers themselves are heavy duty, to better handle off-road punishment. The damper rod is 45 per cent thicker in diameter and the damper tube itself is 17 per cent fatter, to help keep control of the internal temperatures.

The front and rear springs were also revised for better on-road and off-road performance.

There’s a 3mm thick (304 grade) stainless steel bash plate, which Nissan claims is thicker than the bash plates of most rivals.

As is recommended in gnarly off-road situations, the tyre pressures were lowered to minimise the risk of punctures and also enable the tyres to clamber their way over rocks.

The coil rear suspension (versus leaf springs for most ute rivals) seemed to give the Navara better wheel articulation in certain situations, though it would still cock a wheel in the air when it ran out of suspension travel.

We only needed to engage the rear diff lock once to get over a particularly nasty section, but the Warrior did it with relative ease after kicking up a bit of rubble.

There’s no more power from the twin turbo 2.3-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder, but none of its rivals get a power bump either.

That’s because the cost of doing emissions testing – even to find only a few extra kilowatts of power – costs millions of dollars, as the vehicles need to be re-certified.

The engine is still willing and able, and the seven-speed auto is a smooth operator, although it can slur its gear-changes sometimes.

However, power-wise, it’s not in the same league as Volkswagen Amarok TDV6 and eight-speed auto, or the Ford Ranger Raptor’s 2.0-litre twin turbo backed by a 10-speed auto.

In fact, the Warrior is a touch slower than a standard Navara because of the weight of the accessories, plus the taller profile of the tyres has effectively changed the final drive ratio. Nissan considered a unique diff ratio but it was ruled out because it would have been cost prohibitive.

Nissan also figured most buyers probably wouldn’t notice the difference as it still gets the job done, and has not lost any of its towing capacity.

The cabin and the sports seats are comfortable, but the steering wheel still only has height adjustment, not height and reach as some ute rivals have.

We only had limited time on sealed roads, but enough to report that the tyres don’t hum as many other heavy-duty off-road tyres do.

The suspension is comfortable, though it felt better at higher speeds than lower speeds. It could handle bumps on dirt roads at a decent clip, too, with the suspension both absorbing the impact and recovering quickly after it.

The double-cab ute body still has the jiggles typical of many utes, but this is not a criticism, merely an observation. In many ways it’s the cost of doing business in a vehicle like this.

The suspension might not be as plush as the Ford Ranger Raptor, but then again few vehicles are.

Before our time in the Warrior was over, we got to test the 16-LED high beam light bar at night. It’s worth noting it provides a brighter beam about 50 metres ahead of the vehicle rather than throwing light a long way down the road. But it was still a welcome enhancement.

VERDICT

The Nissan Navara Warrior is the right vehicle at the right price for buyers who want a big brash ute on a relative budget.

How the Navara Warrior compares

Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior

  • Price: $62,990 to $65,490 drive-away
  • Engine: 2.3-litre twin turbo diesel four-cylinder
  • Power: 140kW/450Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual or seven-speed auto
  • Key changes: Taller ride height and ground clearance (up 40mm to 268mm), wider footprint and bodywork, uprated Australian-tuned suspension, unique wheels and tyres, underbody protection, heavy-duty body-coloured bullbar, high beam light bar, unique tow bar hitch, final assembly in Melbourne.
  • Brakes: Front discs, rear drums
  • Tyres: Cooper Discoverer AT3 All-Terrain 275/70/17
  • Approach/departure angles: 35 degrees/19 degrees
  • Weight: 2180kg (manual), 2186kg (auto)
  • Towing capacity: 3500kg
  • Payload: 730kg (manual), 724kg (auto)
  • Warranty: 5 years/unlimited kilometres
  • Service intervals: 12 months/20,000km
  • Service cost over five years: $3066 (manual) $3035 (auto)

Toyota HiLux Rugged X

  • Price: $63,990 drive-away
  • Engine: 2.8-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder
  • Power: 130kW/450Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed auto
  • Key changes: Same tyres, suspension and ground clearance as standard HiLux (225mm), unique wheels, underbody protection, heavy-duty bullbar and rear bar, high beam light bar, heavy duty side rails, front and rear recovery points, heavy duty sports bar, snorkel, final assembly in Melbourne.
  • Brakes: Front discs, rear drums
  • Tyres: Bridgestone Dueller All-Terrain 265/65/17
  • Approach/departure angles: 28 degrees/21 degrees
  • Weight: 2252kg
  • Towing capacity: 3200kg
  • Payload: 748kg
  • Warranty: 5 years/unlimited kilometres
  • Service intervals: 6 months/10,000km
  • Service cost over five years: $3422

HSV Colorado SportsCat

  • Price: $64,990 to $72,990 drive-away
  • Engine: 2.8-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder
  • Power: 147kW/500Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed auto
  • Key changes: Taller ride height and ground clearance (up 36mm to 251mm), wider footprint and bodywork, uprated Australian-tuned suspension, uprated brake booster (optional four-piston calipers and larger front discs), unique wheels and tyres, underbody protection, front recovery points, HSV front fascia, HSV sports seats, HSV sports steering wheel, final assembly in Melbourne.
  • Brakes: Front discs, rear drums
  • Tyres: Cooper Zeon LTZ Pro Sports All-Terrain 285/60/18
  • Approach/departure angles: 32 degrees/24 degrees
  • Weight: 2257kg (manual), 2250kg (auto)
  • Payload: 893kg (manual) 900kg (auto)
  • Towing capacity: 3500kg
  • Warranty: 5 years/unlimited kilometres
  • Service intervals: 12 months/12,000km
  • Service cost over five years: $2155 (auto or manual)

Ford Ranger Raptor

  • Price: $84,669 to $87,397 drive-away
  • Engine: 2.0-litre twin turbo diesel four-cylinder
  • Power: 157kW/500Nm
  • Transmission: 10-speed auto
  • Key changes: Taller ride height and ground clearance (up 46mm to 283mm), wider footprint and bodywork, uprated Australian-tuned suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, unique wheels and tyres, underbody protection, front and rear recovery points, Raptor front fascia, sports seats, sports steering wheels, made in Thailand.
  • Brakes: Four-wheel discs
  • Tyres: BF Goodrich K02 All-Terrain 285/70/17
  • Approach/departure angles: 32.5 degrees/24 degrees
  • Weight: 2342kg
  • Payload: 748kg
  • Towing capacity: 2500kg
  • Warranty: 5 years/unlimited kilometres
  • Service intervals: 12 months/15,000km
  • Service cost over five years: $1676

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