Do you have outdoor-loving children who always want to go down to the local BMX or motocross track or adventuring in the great outdoors? Do you dread these trips because of the mess they end up making in the car? Then you need to consider a car that is not averse to getting down and dirty.
The Nissan Navara is one such car offering the versatility of five seats and a rear tub big enough for most of the gear you can throw at it. The most popular variant of the Navara model line-up is the dual cab, which makes up 90% of sales in Australia. I spent a week with the top of the line dual cab ST-X to see what it was like to live with.
My first impression after getting out of the Nismo 370Z straight into the Navara was ‘wow, I’m up high!’ I tried to lower the seat down, but that didn’t make much difference. The Navara is higher than a regular SUV, which does take some getting used to but ultimately provides you with a great view of the world around you.
Obviously the main reason you would want to buy a ute is for the tub. The Navara dual cab tub is 1.5 metres long and 1.1 metres wide at the narrowest point and the ST-X comes with a protective tub liner as standard. The payload for the tub in the ST-X (with optional leather seats and sunroof) is 914kg. But if you don’t have a cover over the ute tub then you have to load the shopping into the front of the car, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for passengers.
If you are a keen camper then you will like that there is a 12V outlet in the tub, which is certainly good for a car fridge or other camping accessories. The tie down points have been lowered down to make securing your load easier in the latest version of the Navara.
The Navara has been upgraded for better towing performance and has a 3.5 tonne towing capacity for a braked trailer and 750kg for a trailer without brakes. These upgrades include 5-link rear suspension with dual rate rear springs.
There is even a rear spoiler on the back of the tub that has a flat top. When I pointed it out to a friend with a comment about the Navara not really needing the downforce they told me that it was actually there for resting your beer on. Obviously at the end of the day when you’ve finished work because you should never drink and drive.
The Navara’s 4X4 system provides three different drive modes, 2WD to 4H or 4L. You can easily switch between them using the dial on the dash. You can switch from 2WD to 4H while the vehicle is moving at speeds of up to 100km/h. The 4H mode is for ‘light’ 4WDriving while the 4L (4WD LOW RANGE) is used during more extreme off road situations, something I didn’t need due to the current dry spell that Sydney is experiencing.
The ST-X also comes with Hill Start Assist that helps keep the vehicle from rolling backwards when accelerating up a hill from a stop and Hill Descent Control that helps maintain a steady speed and braking, so you get down a steep grade more safely.
The latest generation Navara has undergone significant testing to improve the suspension and steering. To me though the ride quality was still ‘truck like’ and the steering was not precise. The turning circle of the Navara is 12.4 metres, so not the best for tight urban streets.
The 2.3 litre intercooled twin-turbo four cylinder double-overhead cam diesel engine in the ST-X produces 140kW of power at 3,750rpm and 450Nm of torque at 1,500-2,500rpm. The engine is a common rail diesel and the system produces a finer spray of fuel that burns more efficiently. This means less fuel is wasted and reduced particulate emissions. Claimed fuel consumption is 7.0l/100km and for my week of driving I achieved 10l/100km certainly not a great average for general urban driving from the diesel engine.
The 7-Inch infotainment system features a 360 degree view around the car for easy parking, this system utilises four cameras mounted around the vehicle and it also has reversing sensors. I did keep bumping the horn though when I was reversing the Navara I think this was something to do with the location of the horn mechanism on the steering wheel?
You can connect your phone via Bluetooth to the infotainment system and if you download the Nissan Connect app you can use online searching on the system also. There are three 12V outlets in the front of the Navara; one on the top of the dash, one at the front of the centre console and one in the centre armrest. The front of the centre console also has one USB outlet and one AUX outlet. I did not like the hard plastic of the cubby space where you put your phone here, it had no grip and my phone slid around. It really needs to be soft plastic or a grippy surface to stop this from happening.
The rear passengers have plenty of leg room, basic dual zone climate control, but no USB or 12V power outlets. There are two ISOFix mounting points and three rear tether points for child restraints. The rear tether points are braided plastic straps not metal and they are hard to clip the car seats on to and also their high position makes it difficult to tighten the car seats fully into place. There are three-point Emergency Locking Retractor belts on all seats, but only pre-tensioning seatbelts in the front. My children could climb into the Navara by themselves and the height on it made it easy to do up the child restraints. But it would be hard with younger children if you had to lift them up into the ute.
The current Nissan Navara range all achieves a 5 star ANCAP safety rating. The ST-X has seven airbags, including two front, two side seat, two side curtain and a driver knee airbag. There is also a laser radar sensor that brakes of the vehicle if necessary and assists the driver’s braking action according to the situation.
Technology on the Navara is behind that of most modern cars though. For example it still has drum brakes at the rear and the cruise control system is basic and does not brake the car when you go down a hill with the cruise control engaged. I also didn’t like that there was no foot rest for your left foot in the foot well.
The Navara ST-X costs $54,490 plus on-road charges and my Navara was fitted with the optional leather accented door trim and seats including heated front seats and 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support ($1,500), tilt & slide electric sunroof sun roof ($1,000), and premium paint ($550). This colour is Deep Sapphire and I thought it was a nice blue.
You may be able to get down and dirty in the Navara on weekends, but you will compromise this with less comfort during the week. If that’s something you can live with then the Navara offers a five seat car with a big tub for all your outdoor gear. Happy adventuring with your children!
For more information about the Nissan Navara contact your preferred Nissan Dealer.
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.