Nissan Navara 2020 n-trek warrior (4x4)

2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior long-term review: Off-road

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We know the Navara N-Trek Warrior is a good thing off-road. It's supposed to be. However, the changes that have been made to beef it up off-road, also make it better on-road.
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We weren’t actually going to punt our long-term 2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior off-road in this series of long-term updates, but it happened by accident.

You already know most of what the Warrior is capable of in an off-road environment, as we’ve tested it before. However, we ended up using it as a support and camera vehicle almost by accident for some other testing, and decided to take another quick look at what makes it such a solid ‘off the shelf’ off-road option.

There’s plenty of online concentration in this country on the very outer edges of 4WDing. Not hardcore enough, not enough flex, not enough lift, won’t do this, can’t do that, tyres aren’t tall enough, lights aren’t the right brand, Max Trax aren’t bolted onto the roof in such a way that everyone can see them at all times. All that kind of nonsense.

What that bickering ignores is the reality that only a small percentage of buyers take their brand-new 4WD, spend that much money and time on it, and then beat on it off-road. The vast majority of 4WD owners in Australia either never do that or do it very rarely. Further, plenty of new 4WD owners don’t want to be voiding warranties or damaging expensive assets in nasty off-road environments.

That’s not in any way to detract from those that do engage in the driving I describe above. It’s simply one element of the hobby, though, not the whole story. For a lot of Aussies, it’s all about sealed road, long-distance touring, light-duty off-road work, maybe a sand drive onto the beach here and there, some camping in a national park, that kind of thing.

And I reckon the type of vehicle that appeals to that buyer is both factory-modified and comes with a warranty. If you don’t ‘need’ more modification than what the Warrior provides, why spend the time and money ripping into a brand-new dual-cab?

While the Warrior isn’t modified by Nissan specifically, it does have the full manufacturer's warranty of any other Nissan product, and the hardware that has been added needs to make a capable vehicle even more capable. We reckon that Nissan has taken a good look at what most people do with most 4WD dual-cabs and tried to deliver a product that meets their needs.

Yes, you can make a dual-cab a lot more hardcore than the N-Trek Warrior – of course you can. There’s more than one quality aftermarket solution to get to that end goal, too. Even if you don’t need that much off-road weaponry, though, the Warrior still needs to deliver the goods, and do so with factory levels of build quality.

In the course of our off-road testing with the Warrior, it’s done exactly that.

With the Navara already offering coils all round, the Warrior upgrades focus on adding to the suspension system’s ability at the limit. Up front, they are taller and softer than standard, while all four corners get a larger-diameter shock absorber.

We’ve noted before that the tune that has been created is excellent – it works on-road and it works off-road. The shock absorber suits the spring and vice versa. The testing that Premcar has done (plenty of it off-road obviously) has delivered a system that does what it claims on the box.

Overall lift amounts to 20mm up front and 42mm out back, and the end result is a system that doesn’t float and wallow on the road, but is far better suited to dealing with a heavy hit off-road. In other words, it’s neatly balanced.

We’ve noted in testing previously that on-road, the Warrior is right up there with the Ranger Raptor (not quite as good at the outer edge) in terms of ride quality and bump absorption. There’s a lesson in there for some of the dual-cab manufacturers, then, that you can make them better both on-road and off. More ground clearance is always a bonus as well when you get to the more technical off-road challenges, too.

There’s a wider wheel track (out by 30mm), softer and larger front bump stops so when you do bottom out off-road, it’s nowhere near as harsh, and the quality Cooper Discoverer AT3 LT tyres, which make a big difference when the going gets a little harder. A deeper tread and wider sections between the blocks mean the AT3s take longer to load up, clear out quicker, and work effectively on slippery surfaces.

Further features that add to the off-road appeal include the robust drop-in tray liner, load rails with adjustable tie-down points, and a weatherproof 12V plug. The steel rear bar and front bar add to the tough-truck visage, but also work nicely in terms of approach and departure, but as we’ve noted previously, the bullbar won’t house a winch.

The standard light bar isn’t the most formidable option, and if you’re doing long night drives out in the scrub, it’s one area we would definitely upgrade. It works perfectly fine on the rural/urban fringe, though.

Like it does on-road, the 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder is neatly matched to the seven-speed automatic and works effectively as a combination off-road, too. You won’t want to be lugging maximum weight (payload drops from 917kg to 724kg for the Warrior) around for weeks on end, especially if you need the Warrior to negotiate truly nasty terrain, but for what most of us will do most of the time, the Warrior works perfectly.

Power and torque figures of 140kW and 450Nm are starting to get to the point where they will need an upgrade against the segment leaders, but our average fuel use of 9.8L/100km on test over this specific week is competitive against the claim of 7.0L/100km. Unladen off-road, the drivetrain is unflustered.

We often remind owners who are about to embark on an extensive modification program for their 4WD, you usually have to spend a hell of a lot of time on the sealed stuff to get to your chosen 4WD destination. It’s the reality of living in the cities like most of us do. Modifying your 4WD to be ridiculously capable off-road is one thing, but doing it at the expense of everyday comfort, practicality and usability is another consideration entirely.

While that path is definitely the one that plenty of owners are happy to choose, factory-backed, off-the-showroom-floor 4WDs like the Warrior exist for the rest of you. It rides more competently on-road than the standard N-Trek, it’s more capable off-road, it feels robust and well built, and it comes with a factory warranty.

While there will be more capable 4WDs out there, there’s a certain peace of mind that comes with the purchase of a vehicle like the Ranger Raptor or N-Trek Warrior. As we’ve stated before, too, like the new Defender, the revised Wrangler and new Gladiator, and of course the Ranger Raptor, manufacturers are starting to deliver 4WDs that are better both on- and off-road. Ultimately, the winner is the consumer.