Nissan has bolstered its Navara range with the new Pro-4X model, which will slot in at the top of the range.
Or at least for now, before the next generation of the Navara Warrior lands on Australian showroom floors. With more time spent fettling things like suspension, ground clearance and protection, the forthcoming Warrior will line up closer to something like a Ford Ranger Raptor.
And to continue the theme of Blue Oval comparisons, the 2021 Nissan Navara Pro-4X butts up against Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak. That is, top of the range, before you start delving into more performance-focussed models.
|2021 Nissan Navara Pro-4X 4x4|
|Engine||2.3-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel|
|Power||140kW @ 3750rpm|
|Torque||450Nm @ 1500–2500rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed torque converter automatic|
|Drive type||Four-wheel drive (including low-range)|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||7.9L/100km|
|ANCAP rating||Five-star (tested 2015) – ANCAP report|
|Warranty||Five years/unlimited km|
|Price as tested (drive-away)||$62,790|
|Main competitors||Ford Ranger | Mitsubishi Triton | Toyota HiLux|
Available with a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox, you’re looking at over $60,000 on the road for the more popular automatic gearbox option.
And while pricing has still gone northwards with this new model, the Navara still does have a bit of value on its side. That's compared to the likes of Ford’s Ranger, which is priced from $60,940 before on-road costs for a BiTurbo XLT, or $66,090 for a comparable Wildtrak.
Toyota’s HiLux SR5 is $58,420, and then jumps up to $68,990 for the Rogue specification, before on-road costs.
The Navara’s powertrain remains unchanged: a 2.3-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine that employs two (sequential) turbochargers to develop 140kW at 3750rpm and 450Nm at 1500–2500rpm.
Our test drive was mostly long-legged country driving, which helped the fuel economy we got of around 8.0 litres per 100km. This compares to Nissan's combined figure of 7.9L/100km and 7.0L/100km on the extra-urban look.
While a list price for our test vehicle is $60,630 before on-road costs, Nissan Australia’s website also lists an offer of $62,790 drive-away. The manual-geared Pro-4X is offered at $62,190, and ABN holders can also negotiate on different terms.
When comparing drive-away prices, the Pro-4X sits a clean $4000 above the ST-X specification. Which begs the question, what do you get for that extra spend?
There’s a black pack on the outside, which includes red lettering in the logo and fender flares. The Toyo Open Country tyres have been swapped for a slightly more aggressive Yokohama Geolander all-terrain tyre, in the same size and on black alloy wheels.
These tyres are a good choice, with no perceptible reduction in grip or refinement on-road, even on the oft-ominous wet roads. And as a kicker, they should improve the already good off-road ability of the Navara, especially with some air taken out of the tyres.
Inside, the Navara Pro-4X scores leather-accented seats as standard, with some special embroidery on the front seats. However, they aren’t heated like you’d get in an optioned-up ST-X, and you don’t get the choice of a sunroof either.
Otherwise, the Pro-4X benefits from the upgrades recently bestowed upon the Navara: 8.0-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, native navigation and digital radio, plus an updated instrument binnacle with more digital real estate and functionality.
As well as the all-important factors of increasing kerbside and buyer appeal, the new look of this Navara has been an important element of integrating new safety technology like autonomous emergency braking.
Beyond that, much of the major mechanical updates of the Navara came through before the facelift, with the so-called Series 4 update. This includes retuned suspension and progressive-rate coil springs, as well as the aforementioned new infotainment.
ST-X and Pro-4X also get a decent 360-degree navigation system, which helps navigate through tight bush and city scenarios alike. The turning circle – 12.6m – is average for the segment, and on the larger side compared to other vehicles.
Although the facelift hasn’t altered much mechanically, it doesn’t change the fact that the Navara is a well-sorted ute overall, and in my opinion is one of the better choices in the segment.
A new steering wheel, shared amongst other new Nissan vehicles in other segments, looks and operates much better, and does a big job of modernising the Navara’s cabin.
Another small detail for this new Navara includes a slight increase in payload, which is afforded by a redesigned rear differential and 25mm larger rear drum brakes. The payload is still four figures: 1004kg for an automatic Pro-4X.
And while the loaded performance has improved markedly since early iterations of the Navara, handling hasn’t been detrimentally affected. With a decently refined engine and smooth gearbox, the Navara offers something of a car-like driving experience. Steering, ride and handling characteristics are all good, which makes the Navara one of the better utes for urban and potholed driving.
The LED headlights, which are standard fitment on the ST upwards, are another great improvement for the Navara. They offer a broader, wider beam of light over the previous model, and punch a good distance down the road in high beam. Plus, the four projectors in each cluster look quite modern to boot.
The seating position feels high and flat compared to other utes, and not as outright comfortable overall. And the continued lack of reach adjustment through the steering column could irk some ergonomically.
The 2.3-litre engine feels quite punchy off the line initially, and offers adequate performance from traffic lights and intersections, and proved to be refined and responsive while on the move. That broad range of torque availability is clearly of benefit.
And while it’s been a long time since I’ve driven a manual-geared Navara, the seven-speed automatic is hard to pass up. It’s a smart and smooth shifter that offers good responsiveness and flexibility.
Another small addition with the new Navara is a selection of driving modes. The Off-road mode is a boon on the rough stuff, but I found the Sport mode to hold gears for too long and allow the engine to rev unnecessarily.
Once you’re cruising faster and looking for an extra dose of pace for overtaking, the Navara’s engine does start to feel a little breathless at the higher end of the rev range. It’s not overly slow, but certainly not as punchy as other utes in these scenarios, and would be more apparent when heavily loaded and towing.
Many punters will undoubtedly fall for the look and appeal of this Pro-4X model, but it’s worth pointing out that it’s not necessarily the best-value pick of the bunch. The ST-X with the leather interior option ticked leaves plenty of spare change for some new wheels and tyres, and you’ve got the benefit of having heated seats if you go down this road.
Continue going down this pragmatic road, and you might find yourself looking more closely at an ST specification. But we know that Australians don’t mind spending a bit of extra coin in this segment, with high-grade specifications often being the popular variants.