Published on Tuesday 28 April 2020 in Van News
Nissan says the brand-new Navara raises the bar for style and performance in the pickup truck sector and it's quite clear that 80 years of experience has been poured into this vehicle. It's one of the very few that comes with a warranty for 5 years (or 100,000 miles, depending on which comes first). So with all that percolating inside your head, let's see how the brand-new Nissan Navara at the Tekna trim level can handle the real test - the Vanarama road test.
Exterior & Style
First up, let's take a look at the front end of the shiny Nissan Navara. There's so much chrome at the front, I'm pretty sure if you were running late for a meeting and you desperately needed to check how you looked, you could just lean in and check your reflection - it's reflection perfection!
At the Tekna trim level, you even get chrome around your fog lights and some nice little additional bits of trim, like the black inlays around the headlights and lots of nice reflective surfaces. I have to say, the huge alloy wheels are some of the most attractive I've seen on a pickup truck yet.
The usually black doorstep is accentuated with silver down the side and this is mirrored on the normally black roof bar. There's yet more chrome on the door mirrors and underneath them both are cameras which form part of the network of cameras that make up a 360-view.
Interior & Cabin
The first thing I noticed when I got inside this vehicle, was that all the chrome and brushed aluminium from the outside has been brought inside. Around the gear stick you've got brushed aluminium on the frame and it's around the cup holders, the instrumentation, in the dash, on the steering wheel and even either side of the infotainment screen. You might think this could look cheesy, but actually, it doesn't and one of my favorite things about the interior is that the assembly of the air vents in the middle have been made to look almost exactly like the front end of the vehicle.
So let's talk about driver comfort... the driver's seat is fully leather-lined which is what you get at the Tekna trim level - lots of leather and a seat that is 8-ways adjustable with electric controls. And while you don't get electric controls on the passenger seat, you do get all the nice leather lining. What I particularly like about the leather is that it's paneled out. In fact, you get a panel for each bum cheek!
The steering wheel is lovely and leather lined too - again that's techna trim level for you, but it's also spring loaded and fully adjustable. Usually when you want to adjust the steering wheel you just release the catch and move it around and it kind of feels a bit light and floaty. However, in the Nissan Navara, it's spring loaded, which means it will always return to the top. A really nice touch from Nissan.
You also have some controls on the steering wheel - on the left hand side you've got all your audio controls and on the right hand side there's a speed limiter and cruise control. The buttons themselves are tough and the rockers on each side are very responsive. Behind that you've got your instrument cluster, your speedometer on the right-hand side and you've got your revs on the left. In the middle there's an excellent driver display unit which has all sorts of information and a really nice visualisation of the status of the vehicle right in the middle of it. And finally, to the left of all that you've got your start/stop button which turns everything on.
Moving across the dashboard there is a lot of black plastic and you've got that lovely vent assembly that I spoke about. You do have a little bit of storage and the first of 3 12-volt sockets. The big infotainment screen is, I think, one of the best I've seen in a pickup truck. It's not particularly complicated to use either. Everything is very clear and Nissan's own system, like the ones you'll find in some of the PSA group's machines, is actually very functional.
For example, if you want to go to the main menu, just press the menu button and you can also use their own satellite navigation system which you get at the Tekna trim level. If you want to get really fancy you can also manually change the colour of it to daylight or nighttime settings just by pressing the button below it.
I like it when a vehicle allows you to turn on external cameras, which are great for reversing this particular vehicle into a tight parking space. With the Navara, you simply press the camera button and there you go, immediately on the left-hand side of the screen you get a 360 visualisation of everything around the vehicle - the front, the back and the two sides.
You've also got the rear view camera which shows you everything that's behind you, but if you press it again, the screen on the left hand side changes to the camera hanging on your off-side mirror. So if you're pulling into a space at the side of the road and there's a particularly high pavement, just press the camera button twice and you'll see absolutely crystal-clear whether you're about to curb those lovely alloys. Another very nice feature from Nissan.
Now things start to get interesting when you realise you can choose your drive setting - so you've got your 2 wheel drive, you've got your 4 wheel drive and your full lock as well. You can switch between the first 2 quite easily, but if you want to go to full lock you've got to push it in. It is, however, very nice and responsive and you're in absolutely no doubt what setting you've got the vehicle in. Next to that feature, you've also got your hill assist button plus your window lock and a second 12 volt socket. Below that you've got a USB socket which you can use to hook your phone up because this infotainment screen actually has Android Auto and Apple Airplay. As well as the USB socket you've also got an aux in and a nice storage tray which is a very good place to put your phone if you've hooked it up there.
Moving down to the gear stick with all that chrome trim… this is an automatic vehicle, you're not actually going to be touching it too much but with all that chrome you'll certainly want to. Behind that are your heated seat buttons and then you've got 2 very good cupholders. Now I'm a snob about cupholders and I know I always go on about it, I just think they're really important - if you're driving around a lot you might have a bottle of water or a Starbucks on the go and then you'll definitely need a reliable cup holder to jam it in. And even though there are no kind of little spring-loaded holders that clamp anything in place, they are very good and they're very nice, and they're framed by a lovely brushed aluminium as well.
Like everything else, the handbrake is leather-lined, and at the Tekna trim level you've got a lovely chrome button on top too - it's also a very sturdy handbrake. Just behind that you've got a nice cubby with a little flip top roof. Inside there is your 3rd 12 volt socket and a nice little notch which means that if you have plugged your phone in or you've got a little USB adapter down there, you can filter all the wires out through the hole and still shut the lid.
Finally let's have a look at the storage - Nissan has always been very good about their sunglasses holder and this latest generation is absolutely no different - a nice little cubby to keep them safe. There's also door storage - you've got room for bottles in the door and whatever else you like. The glovebox, as you'd expect, holds your manual and your locking wheel nuts, and you've also got an Adblue filler in there as well. So there we go, a very well appointed and very comfortable interior. The Navara is great for the people up front… now let's hop into the back and see if it's good for the people in the back.
Passenger Seats & Comfort
It turns out all the leather you get in the front of the Navara you also get in the back as well. It's nice to see that the paneling from the front seats is here so your passengers are just as comfortable as you. There's also a lot of room in the back - I'm 5'11 and I've got plenty of headroom, I've got plenty of legroom and a little bit of storage in the doors too. There's a headrest that's very nice and comfortable - I feel like I could catch some Zs and I think it's just great to see they have spent as much time considering the back as they have the front.
The only thing that I could really knock about the back end is the lack of reading lights and no armrests - the armrest is perhaps unforgivable, but the reading lights I can forgive because we don't read books in the cars anymore, we just use our phones and they're illuminated. So, overall a very nice interior! I've got to give a lot of credit to Nissan for taking all that experience with Qashqai and making good SUV interiors and putting them directly into the brand new Nissan Navara.
Loadspace & Tailgate
So let's head out to the back of this pickup and check out the loadspace. Before I drop the tailgate on the Nissan Navara, I just want to point out 3 things:
The reversing camera.
The tow bar, which allows you to tow 3,500 kilograms - it's a hefty weight and that's an extra that you can have added by our workshop. If you want it done just ask us when you first inquire about the vehicle.
The five-year warranty (or 100,000 miles… whichever one comes).
So moving onto the loadspace - at its widest it is 1.5 meters and its longest it is almost 1.6 meters. It's half a metre deep and just between the wheel arches the width is 1.1 meters. The payload is 1,100 kilograms. I mean that is really really good I mean it's not necessarily class-leading but it certainly sets the Navara apart from the rest.
Driving Experience & On The Road
I've got a family and my wife works in production which means she needs to carry a lot. This means we need a vehicle that's not only functional in terms of a child seat, etc, but also something that can be used on the weekends, and when she works evenings, carrying larger loads than you'd expect. Whether it's ply boards or tools, if she needs to put together her production, a pickup truck is the perfect answer to that. With a pickup truck you get a roller top shutter on the back and you get something that looks like a car. It's as safe as a car, drives like a car, it's one of the many reasons why the Nissan Navara continues to be such a head-turner.
Operators love it, it's safe, it's robust, it's tough, it's durable and it can carry an excellent amount in the back. Plus it can tow a lot too - there's so much down weight on the tarmac that is an incredibly safe vehicle to drive. And safety is something that Nissan have always been very good with. I spoke earlier about the seamless transition between its car offering and its commercial vehicle offering now all the safety you'd expect in a personal vehicle is right here in a commercial vehicle too.
The Navara's Euro 6D-temp 2.3 dCi 190PS engine is mated to a 7-speed auto gearbox, which offers a surprising amount of torque, efficient MPGs and a really light driving experience. In fact, this pickup doesn't need to be driven, it just feels like it's floating along the road on its big wheels and tough suspension. Basic handling and cornering feels really responsive and that automatic gearbox is very reactive. The pickup doesn't do a bad job when it's left to its own gear management, but I really felt like I got the most out of the Navara when I was telling it what to do!
Before I really got to know pickup trucks, I was never really that interested in them. It was actually the Nissan Navara that made me fall in love with pickup trucks as a choice for an everyday vehicle. Ever since I joined this industry I've always liked the Navara, I'm not entirely sure what it is about it that I've always enjoyed, but maybe it's the profile. It has a very cool cut between the loading bay and the cabin that always seemed to stand out more on the side of the Nissan Navara than any other pickup truck that I've seen. The Navara is also the one pickup truck that I would consistently get into and feel like I was sitting in a luxury SUV.
When you look at the pickup truck market these days, there's a lot to choose from. Why choose a Nissan Navara over an L200? Why choose an L200 over a Ford Ranger... and round and round we go. I mean, if they all did exactly the same thing, then there'd be no choice between them, but actually there's the interiors, is the comfort up to scratch? What is the feel of the engine? Is it easy to drive? Are the pedals responsive? Those are the things that sit in your mind as the key factors that dictate your choice. And if you're looking for something that's fun to drive, feels like a car and is more like an SUV than a pickup truck, then the Nissan Navara is a real key choice.
The Nissan Navara In Conclusion
So how do I finish this review? Well, the brand new Nissan Navara is not a revolution in the pickup truck marketplace, however, it shows that Nissan absolutely understands what it means to combine a high-quality interior, an excellent exterior and a fantastic engine under the bonnet.
The fact is, when I was reviewing this vehicle, the only thing I could quibble about was the fact there wasn't an armrest in the back and some shoddy reading lights. But if those are the only things that I'm quibbling about at the end of a Vanarama Road Test, well, that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the brand new Nissan Navara!
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