The Nissan Navara has been on the market for quite some time now – four years and counting, to be exact. But up until today, it still is the undisputed king of ride comfort primarily because of its multi-link suspension at the back. Sure, there are newer pickup trucks out there that could go head-to-head with the Navara with their own version of the multi-link dampers, but ultimately, the NP300 Navara still takes the cake.
Nissan Philippines aims to further solidify the Navara’s position with a bit of an update for its MY 2019. I’ve driven the Nissan pickup truck two years ago, so let’s see if the updates work for the better in this review.
I hate to break this to you but there’s not much of an upgrade with the Navara’s design for this model year, and that’s a good thing. The pickup truck’s presence on the road is still the same, headed by the chiseled hood and sharp daytime running lights that accentuate the projector LEDs – day and night, the Navara looks ominous, and I'm sure a lot of readers will agree.
In profile, the embossed fenders and top-spec’s 18-inch alloys will greet you with impact but what I love the most in the Navara is the rear spoiler that’s integrated with the tailgate. It gives character to the muscular pickup truck. At the rear, well, there isn’t much you can describe in a truck except for the square-ish halogen taillights.
Of note, the media tester’s 1,111L bed didn’t come with a bedliner, so we’re on the impression that this pickup truck will roll right off the showrooms without one.
Inside, the Navara’s interior layout is still the same. Filled with flowing curves and circular vents that work in our books. The easy-to-use controls remain, along with this top variant’s soft leather seats and cupholder placements. Yes, the oddly-placed cupholders on the floor of the rear cabin are still there.
If you think about it, this styling characterizes what sets the Navara apart from its growing number of rivals. It sits together with the Ford Ranger as the benchmark of lifestyle pickup trucks. If there’s any qualm, that would be the excessive use of piano black plastics inside the cabin, which are prone to scratches and fingerprint marks, but that’s about it.
The Navara’s celebrated ride comfort isn’t just about its rear suspension. The front seats, dubbed as Zero-Gravity Seats, reduce driving fatigue nicely. Even with the lack of telescopic adjustment, it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. The rear seats, albeit the bench type, are angled to support the occupants’ size and weight.
Speaking of size, the Navara’s cabin room is enough to accommodate five healthy individuals, provided that three large adults don’t sit at the back. Nevertheless, knee- and head-room are excellent for the average-sized Filipino. Outside noise is quite muted inside, as well, plus the presence of rear A/C vents makes for a cozy ride at the back.
The rear multi-link suspension and coil springs may be heaven-sent in terms of comfort, but that comes with a tradeoff – the Navara only has a payload capacity of 964 kg. That number includes the things you can fit in the bed plus the weight of the people inside the double cab.
Aside from ride comfort, the Navara has a solid feature-set in terms of technology. As a range-topper, the Navara VL gets motorized seat adjustment (with lumbar support), keyless entry, cruise control, and push-button ignition. Other tech features are quite expected such as speed-sensing door locks, power windows, and power-adjustable side mirrors. The Navara isn’t the most high-tech pickup out there, but it’s right in the middle.
The update on the MY 2019 Navara can be found on its new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with, thankfully, physical control knobs and buttons. It now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus it doubles as the display for the 360-degree around-view monitor. The resolution for the AVM can still be better, but it’s usable amidst traffic congestion especially during the day. Can’t say the same at night, though. The 6-speaker setup sounds okay for most music genres.
With all the stuff that comes with the Navara, its safety features are a bit short when compared to its rivals. All variants only come with dual front airbags, while the basic variants don't even come with ABS. There weren't any seatbelt reminders, too. High variants, however, do have stability control (vehicle dynamic control) in place and it comes with four-wheel active brake limited slip (ABLS).
All occupants get a 3-point seatbelt plus the rear seats have ISOFIX child tethers. The around-view monitor can also count as a safety feature since it keeps your Navara safe from dents and scratches.
Driving & Handling
Another carry-over from the Navara’s pre-facelift version is the YD25 2.5-liter inline-four diesel engine with VGT and intercooler. For the 4x4 VL versions, it produces a hefty 187 hp and 450 Nm of twists – numbers that aren’t the best in its class but translate well into the actual drive.
Part of the engine’s responsiveness came from 7-speed automatic transmission. This slushbox wasn’t hesitant to downshift, as it was smart enough to know when to upshift. It has a manual mode but I didn’t feel the need to use it during the testing period. The transmission also worked like a 6-speed, with the 7th gear reserved to relieve stress on the engine while cruising on the highway. Whether roughing it out on dreaded terrains or on a casual stroll around the city, the Navara delivered quite well.
While the engine was more than satisfactory, the Navara’s handling was a league of its own. The wide driving visibility made the hefty pickup truck easy to maneuver, and it only took a few turns on the steering wheel to park in a regular mall parking slot. The steering wheel’s quite balanced, too. Yes, there were dives and pitches, and a few moments of shake from the rear bed, but those were expected in a pickup truck and weren't really jarring.
What wasn’t expected was the rear drum brakes. The stopping power wasn’t really bad but hopefully, Nissan fits the Navara with proper discs on its next version.
The Navara’s linear and dynamic power delivery translated to acceptable fuel economy numbers. Amidst the heavy traffic, I got 6.8 km/L at an average speed of 10 to 15 km/h. Faster Sunday drives at around 60 km/h returned 12.2 km/L while highway cruise at 90 km/h clocked in 16.2 km/L. Take note that these numbers were taken with only two passengers on board.
The Nissan Navara may not be your top choice if you’re looking for a pickup truck that you will use for heavy-hauling duties, but it still is the undisputed king of pickup trucks in terms of creature comfort. The upgrades for MY 2019 make it more appealing to the tech-savvy car buyers but ultimately, what you know of the Navara is still the same – comfortable, powerful engine, and slated to fit the more tamed lifestyles.
Even better, the Navara’s P1,479,000 price tag for the top 4x4 VL AT variant makes it even more attractive. I'm pretty sure that if you’re considering to buy a pickup truck, the Navara is on your shortlist, and it isn’t hard to see why.