REACH­ING NEW HEIGHTS

Im­proved tow­ing abil­ity across the range com­bines with SUV-like in­te­rior to de­liver like­able dual-cab pack­age

The Gympie Times - - MIND - GRANT ED­WARDS

Just when we through the sports util­ity ve­hi­cle mo­men­tum was un­stop­pable, dual cab utes have taken cen­tre stage with a swag­ger.

While SUVs are on tar­get to out­pace pas­sen­ger cars for the first time, it’s the hum­ble ute which is dom­i­nat­ing the na­tion’s top 10 sell­ers.

Toy­ota’s HiLux is on tar­get to claim back-to-back Aus­tralian sales pre­mier­ships this year, closely fol­lowed by the Ford Ranger.

Among those queu­ing for more love is the Nis­san Navara. Not long ago it was trum­peted as the na­tion’s most pow­er­ful tradie, but in re­cent times it’s taken on a softer ap­proach.

Good tim­ing given the fam­i­lies flock­ing to dual cabs to com­bine work and play.

VALUE

There are some good drive-away deals avail­able at the mo­ment, and ABN hold­ers can get a $2500 trade-in bonus.

Equip­ment is about par for the course, in­clud­ing al­loys, cruise con­trol, rear power slid­ing win­dow, rear spoiler and al­loy sports bar.

When it comes to ser­vic­ing, those who travel about 20,000km an­nu­ally will find the ser­vic­ing rea­son­able.

Main­te­nance is re­quired ev­ery 12 months/20,000km, with the cost over six years $3688. That in­cludes an­nual check, lu­bri­cants, fil­ters, plugs and labour, with $32 ev­ery two years to cover brake fluid.

Road­side as­sist is also stan­dard for three years, which matches the war­ranty (100,000km).

COM­FORT

Sit­ting mid-way up the Navara tree, the ST has a car-like dash but is distin­guished over the base model by the five-inch colour dis­play in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with smart­phone stream­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Un­for­tu­nately, phone mir­ror­ing apps Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto are not avail­able but built-in nav­i­ga­tion is stan­dard.

Given it’s a ute, no sur­prise that op­er­a­tions as ba­sic with one dial for the air-con but has vents in the back (dual zone is on the top-spec vari­ant), while there are am­ple spa­ces for keys, drink bot­tles and other gear through the con­sole. A cou­ple of cup hold­ers also pop out from the dash.

The in­te­rior is well pre­sented, the un­laden ride is rea­son­able but can jig­gle and bounce over some sur­faces... although get some weight in the back and it feels more planted. You could say the same about all dual cabs, you won’t get car-like ride with a pay­load abil­ity push­ing one tonne.

DRIV­ING

Look at the fig­ures and you might be un­der­whelmed. Re­plac­ing the old V6 is a twin-turbo 2.3-litre four-cylin­der diesel.

Yet the lit­tle oil-burner has a big heart and it works tire­lessly even un­der load. From first start on cool morn­ings it can be noisy and feel slug­gish, although af­ter a few min­utes it feels ro­bust and smooth.

When un­der-way it’s es­pe­cially re­spon­sive from low in the rev range and it pos­sesses a nice surge when the power is re­quired with 450Nm of twist on tap from 1500rpm.

There is a six-speed man­ual avail­able, but we tested the seven-speed au­to­matic which is be­com­ing more pop­u­lar with tradies – al­ways good to have lunch in one hand and drive with the other.

Av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion is fore­cast to av­er­age seven litres for ev­ery 100km. Some around-town ac­tiv­i­ties saw our fig­ure climb to 8.5, which is still rea­son­able given we had about 200kg on board for most of the time.

Run­ning al­ter­ations were made this year to the front and rear shock ab­sorbers, along with changes to the back re­bound dampers, which de­liver a more sta­ble and con­fi­dent per­for­mance when while tow­ing.

The steer­ing can still be a hand­ful in come en­vi­ron­ments, with a siz­able turn­ing cir­cle of 12.8 me­tres mean­ing plnety of three-point turns and care­ful park­ing in ur­ban con­fines.

SAFETY

Seven airbags but no au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing (not yet avail­able on this or any other ute, so the five-star safety rat­ing is based on ear­lier stan­dards that did not re­quire AEB).

A rear cam­era is stan­dard while front and rear sen­sors are op­tional.

FUNC­TION­AL­ITY

Four tie-down points in­side the rear bed are great for cov­er­ing loads, where you also find a handy 12-volt plug which is great for camp­ing.

Side steps make en­try and exit eas­ier, but users need to re­mem­ber this is a work­horse and the ground clear­ance of 226mm is not just for show.

HEART SAYS

Good look­ing truck which rides well and of­fers im­pres­sive com­fort for the fam­ily.

HEAD SAYS

Not the cheap­est dual cab go­ing around, but there are some im­pres­sive deals avail­able at the mo­ment.

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