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Road Test

 

Nissan Navara ST-X


by Stephen Walker


15th October, 2007

 

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The Japanese designed utes are an obvious portion of the Australian automotive 'diet'. They are literally everywhere. From the farm to the building site and beyond, including industries large and small. Over the decades they have become an increasingly popular choice for recreational user and for those who use a ute for multiple purposes.

Nissan has had an admirable presence in this market segment for decades. The current Nissan offering has been with us for a couple of years now and the company has a rock solid reputation for value, durability and reliability. In fact, the newer Navara dual-cab (the D40 series) is a highly desirable and successful entrant in the expansive utility market. This segment includes some mighty fine products as well as the Nissan Navara. Others which I hold in high esteem include the Mitsubishi Triton, the Holden Rodeo and, to a lesser extent, the new Ford Ranger.

On this occasion, we are looking at the Navara ST-X dual-cab utility with 4-wheel-drive. The engine and transmission choice, on the test 'car', is the 2.5 litre diesel coupled with the increasingly popular automatic transmission.

The D40 series Nissan Navara is available with a choice of petrol or diesel engine, 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrain and manual or automatic. The automatic transmission has been slow in the offering on a 4x4 ute, particularly when combined with a diesel engine. However, the automatic is a welcome inclusion and it will be very popular with recreational users and with those who do city driving amongst their motoring chores. Fact is, I consider the diesel engine matched with an automatic transmission as the ideal combination for a dual-cab ute. And the same combination for a single cab ute, too! And that is regardless of the drivetrain option of either 4x2 or 4x4. Today's ute is still capable of being a 'workhorse' as well as being an occasional 'show pony'. Appearances aside, the Navara has proven itself more than capable on both sides of the fence.

Technically speaking, the engine is a 2.5-litre common-rail turbodiesel unit. Power is rated at 128 kW at 4,000 rpm. Torque is an impressive 403 Nm at 2,000 rpm.

The newer D40 series Navara has a ladder-frame chassis and an independent front suspension system with double wishbones and coil springs. At the rear, a rigid axle with over slung leaf springs are in place.

We took the Navara off-road and on-road for over 1,100 kilometres. It proved an ideal vehicle for our recreational use during this time. Sadly, though, we didn't get a chance to use the Navara as a workhorse. We just couldn't find an excuse to hire a portable cement mixer, nor did we see any reason to go off and buy a pallet of pavers. Nor did we decide to do any landscaping or demolition work. But we did see fit to motor around the Blue Mountains (west of Sydney, NSW), acting like typical tourists. Our off-roading was quite tame, but we already knew the Navara was more than capable in an off-road environment. Our objective during our time with the Nissan Navara 4x4 was to assess the 'liveability' of this dual cab ute in a city and regional environment when using the vehicle for recreational use - just like many who buy a 4x4 ute for daily use and for towing a horse float, boat, caravan or, the increasingly popular, fifth-wheeler. Hence, the high 'mileage' (why don't we say high 'kilometreage'?) of over 1,100 kilometres in just one week.

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The Navara features what I would describe as a firm ride, but not a harsh ride. The handling and braking is good. Power steering is standard. Acceleration is good and the auto transmission makes a standing start a pleasant experience. Often the 'low' first gear in a 4x4 means you're reaching for second gear within metres of getting off the mark. It is so much easier with auto, as the transmission looks after the change itself (and isn't that just as you would expect with an automatic transmission?).

The seating is comfortable upfront and features cloth trim. There are numerous storage arrangements, but the two gloveboxes are small.

We certainly experienced many everyday type of occurrences with the Navara. And what did we discover? Firstly, it needs to be stated that the comfy seats and the easy handling makes driving the Navara as easy as you could expect in, what is after all, a fairly large vehicle.

Standard comfort items include a six-CD audio system, air conditioning (and it works well), power windows (auto down for driver), side steps, two airbags upfront, cruise control, (4) 16" alloy wheels (steel spare), leather-bound steering wheel and a driver's footrest. Metallic paint is optional.

Nissan's cruise control is activated by controls on the steering wheel hub. As such, it is very easy to use and, in fact, one of the very best for ease of use. The steering wheel has no controls for the audio system. Adjustment of the steering wheel is limited to up and down adjustments only. There is no telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel, sadly.

The price of today's trendy Japanese ute is creeping upwards. And that is the way it is with the Nissan Navara too. The ST-X diesel with automatic transmission is currently priced at $47,990 (RRP). At this price, the Navara ST-X is aimed at the successful small business operator and for those who require a strong vehicle for towing. By the way, a towing capacity of up to 3 tonnes is available with the D40 Navara 4x4 (subject to numerous circumstances and conditions).

Warranty for the Navara D40 is for 3 years or 100,000 kilometres and Roadside Assistance is provided for 3 years.

The Nissan Navara is a popular ute and it deserves to be. It is highly regarded, but it isn't perfect. The idea of having a four-door ute is, for many folks, to provide an opportunity to accommodate back seat passengers. Yet any back seat passengers with big feet will be restless because of the rather limited 'foot-room' under the front seats. But that aside, the Navara is a pleasing drive (even with the firm ride) and it is particularly capable off-road. The cabin is roomy and Nissan's reputation is as good as anyone's and better than some.


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