Nissan Navara 2021 sl (4x2)
launch-review

2021 Nissan Navara review: first local test drive

Rating: 7.7
$32,300 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    7.2L
  • Engine Power
    120kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    189g
  • ANCAP Rating
    5Stars
We test the updated 2021 Nissan Navara, the biggest change to the model since this generation went on sale in 2015.
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The 2021 Nissan Navara has begun arriving in Australian showrooms.

With a new look and more technology, this is the biggest change to the Navara since this model was introduced in 2015.

All sheet metal from the windscreen forward is new, as well as the bold new bumper and grille and redesigned headlights. And Nissan also spent some money on new rear fenders and tail-lights.

The interior is the same as before, but the new steering wheel and digital instrument display are welcome changes.

Given that utes and vans have a model lifecycle of about 10 years, this is likely the last major update to the Navara until a new generation arrives in four or five years from now.

The cheapest models in the range are rolling into dealerships before the flagship STX and Pro4X arrive by the middle of this year.

The RRP for the Nissan Navara line-up shows prices have risen across the range and are closer to – or in excess of – newer and better-equipped rivals.

However, the company has launched with a range of drive-away deals for private buyers and ABN holders.

The new Navara line-up has been streamlined, and now starts with the base model SL, available as a two-wheel drive cab chassis with a single turbo 2.3-litre diesel, starting from $33,890 drive-away.

Even with the drive-away deal, this makes the cheapest ticket into a Nissan Navara work ute almost $4000 dearer than the equivalent Isuzu D-Max diesel ($29,990 drive-away) and almost $7000 dearer than the equivalent Toyota HiLux petrol ($26,990 drive-away).

While the most basic Nissan Navara now comes with autonomous emergency braking it doesn’t get the full suite of advanced tech – even though other ute brands such as Isuzu, Mazda and Toyota spread all their available technology across their entire ute ranges.

All models come with seven airbags (as before) and this model is eligible to carry its five-star safety rating from 2015, even though the criteria has become tougher since. Radar cruise control is not available on any model, despite the large sensor on the grille (instead it is used solely for autonomous emergency braking).

Other Nissan Navara SL models – such as the extra cab and double cab 4x4 variants – gain the twin-turbo 2.3-litre diesel fitted to the rest of the range, although power and torque remain unchanged from before at 140kW and 450Nm.

The Nissan Navara ST gains the LED headlights and tail-lights, alloy rather than steel wheels, and rear privacy glass, plus a few other features.

From the Nissan Navara ST and up, all models come with extra safety tech such as lane-keeping assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning and a 360-degree camera.

The Nissan Navara ST is priced from $50,990 drive-away for the manual and $52,490 drive-away for the auto.

However, the Nissan Navara STX – priced between $57,290 and $60,790 drive-away – is likely to be the most popular variant as more buyers move upmarket.

The flagship Pro-4X – is due in the coming months from $62,790 drive-away.

However the hardcore offroad Warrior version – based on the Pro 4X and developed locally – isn’t due to arrive until the second half of the year.

The prices listed are for private buyers; customers with an ABN can save a further $1500 or thereabouts.

Fleet prices are cheaper because they buy in bulk. But it’s unclear why individual buyers who can claim a tax deduction for a new Nissan Navara also get access to a cheaper buying price than private purchasers. If Nissan can afford the deal on a tradie with an ABN, surely it can afford to offer the same price to mums and dads.

The interior of the vehicle remains largely unchanged however a new steering wheel and digital instrument display are welcome changes.

Apple Car Play and Android Auto are part of the standard package but the smartphone integration was added in the lead-up to this model about 18 months ago.

The back seat retains rear air vent coverage but there’s now a USB charging port.

And Nissan is still unique among its direct rivals with a sliding rear window. And we love the Navara's adjustable tie-down points in the ute tub.

A range of new bullbars, extra lighting and other accessories have also been developed, and are ready to go.

Service intervals are 12 months or 20,000km (whichever comes first). Capped price servicing is available but wasn’t listed on the website for the updated model.

2021 Nissan Navara STX
EngineTwin turbo 2.3-litre four-cylinder diesel
Power and torque140kW at 3750rpm, 450Nm at 1500–2500rpm
TransmissionSeven-speed torque converter automatic
Drive typeRear-wheel-drive on sealed roads, selectable 4WD on the move when off-road, plus low-range transfer case
Length, width, height, wheelbase5311, 1875, 1855, 3150 mm
Approach, departure, rampover, ground clearance32.7 degrees, 20.3 degrees, 23.2 degrees, 224mm
Kerb weight (manual, auto)2134kg, 2124kg
Towing capacity3500kg
Payload (manual, auto)1097kg, 1088kg
Fuel claim, combined (manual, auto)7.3, 7.9L/100km
Fuel tank capacity 80L
Turning circle12.5m
ANCAP safety ratingFive stars (2015)
Warranty5 years/unlimited kilometres
Main competitorsMitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max, Toyota HiLux
Price as tested (drive-away)$60,790

On the road

For our media preview drive we got to sample the Nissan Navara STX, which is likely to be the top selling model

Although it looks new, the 2021 Nissan Navara drives the same as before.

A lot of the updates such as acoustic glass and extra sound deadening – and revised suspension and steering – had been done in the lead-up to the arrival of the new look.

That said, while the Nissan Navara platform is starting to show its age, it’s still a relatively refined vehicle to drive.

Power, acceleration and towing capacity are on par with its rivals, and it steers comfortably and easily.

Nissan had some examples loaded with 325kg in the tray, others had a 2000kg trailer (a little over half the 3500kg capacity).

We didn’t point the Navara at too many hills – and both loads were within the Navara’s limits – so it was no surprise it handled the tasks easily.

Previous testing of heavier loads has shown the Navara is mid-pack when comes to heavy lifting.

Given that it is the same under the skin as before, our review of the Navara from last year’s ute mega test still stands today.

However, we will be testing this Navara against its updated rivals in the months ahead, as well as doing more detailed reviews on-road and off-road.

Verdict

The new 2021 Nissan Navara looks the business and is relatively comfortable to drive on tarmac and in the daily grind.

Prices have risen due to design and technology changes, but in our estimation, Nissan is charging a little over the odds when lined up next to its direct rivals, some of which are newer, cheaper and better equipped.

Buyers will initially overlook the price hike as they are attracted by the tough new look, but over the next few years there’s a lot of newer competition coming to the ute segment, so expect prices to ease over time.