Nissan Navara review
Chunky looks and robust practicality mean the Nissan Navara ticks the right boxes for image-conscious pick-up buyers
Pick-up trucks are growing in popularity in the UK – cars like the Nissan Navara provide an appealing alternative to a van if you need space to store work equipment, carry heavy loads but seat passengers in relative comfort.
The Navara is Nissan’s double cab pick-up version of its Pathfinder seven-seater, and carries over many of that car’s plus points. However, as pick-ups have entered onto the radar of commercial vehicle buyers and those looking for a lifestyle vehicle, more manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon. As a result, the Navara has to face up to rivals like the Mitsubishi L200, Ford Ranger and our favourite – the Volkswagen Amarok.
Pick-ups have created a popular niche, with enough off-road ability to venture far from the beaten track and surprisingly comfortable interiors at a decent price.
Nissan offers four different trim levels on the Navara: Visia, Acenta, Tekna and Outlaw V6. Prices for the entry-level Visia model start at an affordable £21,995, while the Acenta model will cost £23,995. There’s also a two-door, £22,495 King Cab version available in Acenta spec. Equipment levels on the entry-level Visia trim are fair, with the highlights being air conditioning and Bluetooth.
Acenta spec adds climate control, cruise control and USB connectivity. Add £3,100 for the Tekna model, and although this is quite a jump it brings with it automatic headlights and wipers, steering wheel controls, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, a rear-view camera and heated, leather front seats.
The top-spec Outlaw V6 model is only available with – as the name suggests – a 228bhp 3.0-litre V6 mated to a seven-speed automatic gearbox. At £37,140 it’s quite pricey.
The rest of the range is available with a 2.5-litre turbodiesel producing 187bhp – except in Visia guise where the engine is de-tuned to 142bhp. A six-speed manual comes as standard, and while there is a five-speed auto option, it’s only available on Tekna cars.
Our choice: Navara 2.5 dCi Tekna manual
The Nissan Navara looks identical to the Pathfinder from the nose all the way back to the trailing edge of the rear doors. Then, instead of more bodywork, there's a large, flat pick-up bed. It's a chunky looking machine, and certainly doesn't do anything to hide its sheer size.
All models get 17-inch alloy wheels (18s on the Outlaw V6) and side steps, while Tekna trim adds roof bars to improve practicality and chrome mirrors for an extra dash of style. Inside, the dashboard looks good, but is made from hardwearing plastics, which will stand up well to knocks and scrapes as the Navara will often be used as a working vehicle.
It’s far removed from the utilitarian, unrefined pick-ups of old, not least thanks to the Navara’s very powerful 187bhp 2.5-litre turbodiesel. This takes it from 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds, and has loads of pulling power thanks to a torque figure of 450Nm. Produced low-down at 2,000rpm it’ll pull you out of most sticky situations, but it’s useful if you want to tow a trailer, too.
The engine is smooth running and relatively refined, while the six-speed gearbox is easy to use. If you need more power, opt for 3.0-litre V6 diesel in top-spec Outlaw trim, which has 550Nm of torque at its disposal. This means it’s the fastest Navara on sale, sprinting from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds.
As for ride and handling, the underpinnings include selectable four-wheel-drive which gives this Nissan Land Rover-like ability off road. This inevitably leads to compromises on the tarmac, but double wishbone suspension means it’s still surprisingly competent and comfortable when cruising around on-road. The Navara’s chassis does fidget around a little, and once you’ve got used to the slow steering, the handling isn’t bad.
The Nissan Navara has been on sale for a while now, and as it's designed to deal with the rough and tumble of a working life, you can be sure that any problems would've highlighted themselves by now.
Nissan finished 22nd in our 2014 Driver Power satisfaction survey, but given what the Navara will be used for, we’d expect it to stand up to the challenge of a hard life.
Safety is a slight negative for the Navara, though. It scored just three stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, which is off the pace compared to newer models like the four-star VW Amarok and impressively safe five-star Ford Ranger. However, all models get electronic stability control as well as a whole host of airbags as standard and child ISOFIX seat tethers.
Navara owners benefit from the widest and deepest load bed in the sector, and the largest load area. There’s no doubting the Nissan’s practicality here, though naturally, as it’s uncovered, those seeking added security will do well to invest in an optional hard top for the rear bay.
Plenty can be carried there, and up to 2.7 tonnes can be towed. Four doors provide ample room for five passengers, and the car-like driving position and excellent quality are welcome, too.
However, due to the Navara’s strong practicality it’s a vast machine, so can be hard to manoeuvre or park in tight spaces due to limited rearward visibility – if you opt for Tekna model the rear camera helps massively here.
Competitive prices make the Nissan Navara a good-value choice, and retained values are strong, too. The 2.5-litre diesel engine officially averages around 29mpg but expect closer to 25mpg in every-day use.
Service intervals are stretched to an impressive 18,000 miles, which will be beneficial to those using the Navara for commercial purposes.