The 2021 Nissan Navara has been unveiled ahead of its Australian showroom arrival early next year.
The biggest change to the Nissan Navara since this generation went on sale in 2015 gains a bold new look borrowed from the Nissan Titan in the US, including an oversized grille and new bi-LED headlights with C-shaped daylight running lights.
Although at a glance the rest of the visual changes may seem minor, the 2021 Nissan Navara has new sheetmetal forward of the windscreen plus redesigned ute tub fenders, tailgate, wheel arch flares, and tail-lights.
The ute tub internals are identical to the current Navara – and Nissan’s clever adjustable tie-down rails remain – however the outer skins and tailgate are new, with a more integrated rear lip for better aerodynamics. Nissan has also tucked in the corners of the rear bumper for better airflow at freeway speeds.
There is a long list of advanced safety tech, the promise of improved refinement, and the introduction of a new flagship model.
The Nissan Navara Pro-4X (pictured above, right) is the new global name for the flagship variant which will replace the Nissan Navara N-Trek in Australia.
In addition to its tough-truck looks, the Nissan Navara Pro-4X gains a heavy-duty sports bar which is expected to be able to handle some more weight than the chrome show bars on most other utes. However, it is not expected to handle as much weight as the heavy-duty sports bar on the Toyota Hilux Rugged-X (rated to handle a 75kg vertical load and a 200kg tie-down load).
The new badge means the locally-developed Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior will likely be renamed Nissan Navara Pro-4X Warrior. That model is yet to be unveiled, however it is likely to be introduced some time after the rest of the new Navara line-up in the first half of 2021.
There is no extra power expected for the twin turbo 2.3-litre four-cylinder diesel (140kW/450Nm), which remains paired to a six-speed manual or a seven-speed auto as with today’s model.
Towing capacity remains capped at 3500kg, the legal maximum on a 50mm tow ball. The tailgate on certain models will gain spring loading, to make it easier to close.
However, Nissan promises improved payload, with up to 1.1-tonnes of carrying capacity in the Pro-4X and up to 1.2 tonnes on workhorse models. Exact details on each variant will be released closer to local launch.
The sides of the ute tub are 20mm higher, though this is more for styling than to create extra usable space.
The interior gets a minor makeover to accommodate some of the advanced safety tech.
A new, more compact steering wheel (similar to the current Nissan X-Trail) comes with extra buttons which work in conjunction with the new larger digital display between analogue dials in the instrument cluster.
The new widescreen panel greets drivers with a digital image of the new Navara on start-up and the functions go well beyond a digital speed display.
It now includes a compass (moving this feature from the rear-view mirror) and all the necessary modes to adjust the advanced safety tech.
Drivers can select which advanced safety aids they want to mute or disable by using buttons on the steering wheel and following the menu in the dash display.
Unlike the two newest utes on sale in Australia – the 2021 Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 – which come with a centre airbag to meet stringent safety criteria, the new Nissan Navara did not need to add an extra airbag because it is allowed to advertise indefinitely its five-star safety score from 2015, when the criteria was less stringent.
The autonomous emergency braking and forward crash alert systems on the new Nissan Navara rely on a large rectangular sensor in the lower portion of the grille (versus cameras in the windscreen of the Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50 and Mitsubishi Triton and a radar sensor in the Toyota badge in the grille of the new HiLux).
This means owners will need to be careful to not block the sensor with bullbars, lights and other accessories. Oddly, the tech in the new Nissan Navara does not include radar cruise control or distance-sensing cruise control (available on Isuzu, Mazda, Toyota and Ford utes).
Top-end versions will continue with a 360-degree camera. Meanwhile, certain versions of the new Nissan Navara are expected to be available with individual tyre pressure monitors. The information can be searched for manually on the digital instrument display screen. However, Navara models equipped with the tech will automatically alert the driver to a loss of pressure.
A new laminated windscreen, thicker side glass, and extra sound-deadening behind the dash promise a quieter driving experience.
The new Nissan Navara will be available with autonomous emergency braking, forward crash alert, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind zone warning for the first time.
Although this technology is standard on every model in the new Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 ranges, Nissan is yet to outline if this advanced safety tech will be on all Navara models or only the most expensive variants.
Top-end versions of the new Nissan Navara will also enable drivers and passengers to remain better connected, with more charging ports than ever before.
The current Nissan Navara tops out with one USB port and three 12V sockets in the front cabin – and none in the rear cabin. The 2021 Nissan Navara comes with one USB-A port and two 12V power sockets in the front cabin, a new fast-charging USB-C port and a USB-A port in the centre console, and a USB-A port in the rear of the centre console (below the air vents) for back seat passengers.
The back seat has been redesigned for improved comfort and there is a fold-down centre arm rest with cup holders and a pocket to stash a phone.
As before, top-end Navara models come with push button start, dual zone air-conditioning, rear air vents, heated front seats, power folding sides mirrors, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and embedded navigation. Although the infotainment may look new it is the same system that came with an update 18 months ago, it merely has a redesigned garnish.
While the steering wheel is new and the 2021 Nissan Navara has lane-keeping tech, it retains its hydraulic power steering set-up. Instead, it uses the brakes to pull the vehicle back into line (rather than using electric power steering assistance).
The steering wheel still only has tilt adjustment rather than height and reach adjustment (which is standard on the Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, Toyota HiLux, Mitsubishi Triton and VW Amarok).
It is unclear at this stage if the front discs are the same as before (296mm in diameter). If so, the Navara will maintain the dubious honour of having the smallest front brakes in the top end of the double-cab ute class. A front brake upgrade would be on our wish list of changes.
CarAdvice has been told the rear drum brakes will increase 25mm diameter (from 295mm currently, as per most rivals). Here's hoping the front disc brakes also get an upgrade.
The suspension has not been updated because Nissan says it is happy with the third iteration of the suspension tune. However, Nissan claims a stronger rear axle will enable a greater payload for 4x4 variants. Final figures are still being calculated.
A new steering rack has been adopted, however CarAdvice has been told it remains hydraulically assisted.
The 2021 Nissan Navara is likely to remain largely unchanged from this point on until a new model arrives in about 2025, which is rumoured to be a version of the next-generation Mitsubishi Triton due in 2023 or 2024.
Former rivals Mitsubishi and Nissan became joint venture partners as part of the new alliance with Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi. Because the big wheels of the car industry turn slowly, and it takes about three to five years to take a car from a design sketch to a showroom, future plans for both the Nissan and Mitsubishi utes remain shrouded in secrecy.
Other noteworthy points with the 2021 Nissan Navara: the Pro-4X model will switch to 17-inch wheels and Yokohama Geolander all-terrain tyres rather than the 18-inch Toyo highway tyres on the current Nissan Navara N-Trek.
The redesigned rear bumper now has an integrated step near the number plate, to make it easier to gain a foothold when reaching into the tray.
The tail-lights of top-end models in the new Nissan Navara range include a distinctive LED signature. The handy sliding rear window carries over from the current model on top-end variants.
Nissan says it has developed a new snorkel to suit the new front fenders and, for the first time, it will offer an optional winch-compatible bullbar.
When low-range is selected, new Navara utes equipped with a 360-degree camera will automatically switch on the camera display – to help drivers navigate tricky obstacles, even when driving forward.
Nissan says it is yet to decide which models may come with a tow bar as standard (as per top end models of the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger). For now, in the Nissan Navara range, only the top-of-the-range N-Trek Warrior is fitted with a tow bar as standard.
And although the red tabs in the lower section of the front bumper look like heavy-duty recovery points, they are in fact a plastic garnish.
Nissan says the new Navara is due in Australia showrooms in early 2021. Price and features of individual models are yet to be announced but dealers have been advised to brace for a price rise.
In a media statement, Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer said: “We packaged the new model with a full set of advanced technologies to ensure enhanced dynamic performance on- and off-road, as well as safety and comfort ushering in a new age of toughness, tech, and peace of mind. For our customers it means confidence, driving pleasure, practicality and pride of ownership.”
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