Nissan irons out the bumps in its Navara
Two years into its lifecycle, the Nissan Navara has found itself on the right end of a few tweaks. It gives a strong indication of how important this ute is to the company.
Complaints of ride quality have followed the 2016 model and Nissan has worked hard to revise the suspension, made changes to the front and rear shock absorbers and stiffened the rebound dampers.
Nissan has also taken this opportunity to add a further variant to the range, the SL, a new entrymodel four-wheel-drive starting from $43, 990.
So has Nissan managed to eliminate the jiggle? We took the ST 4WD on holiday to find out.
The SUV-like interior comfort of the Navara is one of its strongest selling points, ideal for those buyers who need a work ute to double as a family hauler.
Curved edges and the use of leather trim and brushed metal highlights are just the start of a story that also includes easy-to-read instrumentation, good placement of button and dials and a steering wheel that feels comfortable.
It includes features such as auto headlights and wipers, fog lights, reverse camera, sat-nav, side steps and an electrically powered sliding rear window.
The cloth-covered seats in our Navara ST were rather supportive, long enough under the thigh and wide enough across the shoulders to offer real comfort for occupants in the front, even on longer trips.
Those in the rear pew are not without their joys. Three adults can travel back there if needed.
As in most dual-cabs, the back seat can be rather upright, which happily is somewhat less so in this Navara.There are three top tethers for car seats with IsoFix points still to be fitted.
Of course, in vehicles of this ilk, the tray is of high importance. The ST featured a chrome sports bar, 12V plug and metal tie-down rings but could have done with a tray liner and cover. It is smaller than that offered by some competitors but is good for 940kg if not towing but much less if at the maximum 3500kg braked towing capacity.
The infotainment system in the Navara ST 4WD is functional and user-friendly but feels lsike it is already starting to date.
The five-inch touchscreen is too small for a ute of this size with graphics that are a tad hazy but is easy to navigate. Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming works well but there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Our ST 4WD was powered by Nissan’s 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel engine, with 140kW and 450Nm.
For most models in the 4WD and 2WD range, there is a choice of sixspeed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission.
All Navara dual-cab utes have a five star ANCAP rating thanks mostly to seven airbags, including full-length curtain airbags; there's electronic stability and traction control and ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist.
Navara ST also has reverse camera as standard but you have to spring for the range-topping ST-X for rear parking sensors, hill start assist and hill descent control.
Given that it was Nissan’s intention with this update to modify the suspension so that the rear especially jiggles less perceptibly, it is easy to focus just on that element when behind the wheel.
But the Navara is about more than a wobbly bottom and you will be glad for its composed demeanour, adventurous nature and on and off-road capability.
It is big and tall and heavy so think a front-row forward rather than ballerina. Still, it shows poise through bumpy corners and needs little urging to get up to speed.
Lower ground clearance than some rivals can limit the breadth of off-road forays but, in the main, the Navara is an accomplished performer, helped by its locking rear differential and, in the case of the ST, the 16-inch wheels.
And as for that jiggle… well, it’s still there but less so. The ride is now firmer over bumps. It is best under mid-sized loads, where it is clear to see the work done to the rear rebound dampers.
We managed close to 800km during our week in the Navara and were impressed by overall fuel use of about 7.7 litres per 100km.
The tweaks Nissan has made to the Navara have certainly helped elevate its appeal.
The updated Nissan Navara presents an interesting option for both work and play.