Nissan Navara ST-X review: the quiet achiever
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Nissan Navara ST-X
- Aggressive new look
- Impressively smooth and refined
- Good 1027kg payload
- More expensive than big-selling rivals
- Middle of the road in power/torque
- No adaptive cruise
The Nissan Navara is a quiet achiever among the big names of the pickup-truck market in New Zealand.
While we often talk about the big personalities and the big sales battle between Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux, the Navara is still a top-five performer in the charts and a ute with a consistently loyal following among Kiwis.
It’s also a globally influential truck for a number of reasons. Don’t forget the current model was the base for the ill-fated (but still very impressive) Mercedes-Benz X-Class, may it rest in peace, and still provides Renault with its one-tonne credentials via the Alaskan ute (that one’s not sold in NZ).
The new model is a mild update, but it does make quite a big impression. The sheet metal from the A-pillar forward is new, with frontal styling more in tune with the US-market Titan truck than its meek predecessor.
There’s a lot of wow-factor from those changes, according to the vox-pop. As Ranger and Hilux have proved, the more trucky the look the better as far as Kiwi buyers are concerned.
There are also new tail-lights, tailgate with a “Navara” embossed along the lower edge and a reshaped bumper, although it all still seems very familiar from the back. What you can’t see is a revised rear axle underneath: payload 1027kg across the double-cab range and towing stays at 3500kg.
The interior architecture has mostly been carried over and it’s pretty low-key stuff (more car-like than many utes though), albeit with a flash new steering wheel, upgraded infotainment and some worthwhile new driver-assistance features.
Our ST-X test vehicle is as high in the range you can go without getting into the more specialised (more flashy?) Pro-4X.
At $57,490 for the 4x2 version (another $10k for the 4x4) the starting price is higher than the Ford Ranger XLT and even a snip over the dressed –up Ranger FX4 biturbo. And well over any equivalent Hilux’s Toyota Driveaway Pricing of course.
That’s a bit of a hill for the Navara to climb, especially when you consider that the 140kW/450Nm twin-turbo diesel four doesn’t give you bragging rights over either Ranger biturbo (157kW/500Nm) or Hilux (150kW/500Nm).
But part of the Nissan’s appeal will be that it isn’t a Ranger or Hilux, of course. Ute buyers have their own brand loyalties, the Navara has plenty of heritage behind it and there’s something to be said for not being like everybody else.
There are also more tangible qualities to the ST-X. The twin-turbo engine and seven-speed transmission are smooth performers; the four-pot engine delivers peak torque pretty eagerly from just 1500rpm upwards, with good throttle response. It’s pretty quiet for a ute, too.
The 2.3-litre powertrain is relatively clean (easy now, we said “relatively”). An official fuel consumption figure of 7.6l/100km should see its Clean Car fine limited to a three-figure sum of money come 2021.
The hydraulic steering and especially ride are right up there with the best one-tonners, Nissan seemingly pulling off a rear-axle trick of bumping up the payload while also improving comfort.
The Navara gets a big bump in active safety, too. There’s an Around View Monitor (with additional off-road function on the 4x4 model), Lane Departure Warning/Prevention, Blind Spot Warning/Intervention and even Rear Cross Traffic alert. If you want, you can look at lot of the assists working on the new driver information display.
The ST-X helps justify its high price with the likes of leather upholstery, heated seats, smart entry and dual-zone climate control.
But we were disappointed with the lack of reach-adjustable steering and especially adaptive cruise control. It’s rapidly becoming a given on utes (Ranger XLT upwards and right across the Hilux range, for example), and with the Navara’s impressive on-road abilities – not to mention all that other new active safety stuff - it seems a shame not to take that last technology step.
It’s a little reminder that the Navara goes back some way: despite its bold new look, the basic package dates to 2014. But visually and dynamically, it’s still very much in the game.
NISSAN NAVARA ST-X
ENGINE: 2.3-litre turbo-diesel four
GEARBOX: 7-speed automatic, 2WD or part-time 4WD
PRICES: $57,490-$67,490 (4x2-4x4)