Nissan Navara VE Full review
Contents

When you’re looking for a reliable workhorse, the Philippine market has no shortage of options. Consumers are spoiled for choice with top-of-the-line offerings left and right. Nissan is only one of many manufacturers in the market that fields a midsize pickup, but the Navara is also one of the most notable. 

Prices are soaring, however. The top-spec PRO-4X now costs a whopping P1,849,000, but the spec sheet is equally as lengthy—it’s at least fine if you’ve got the budget. If you don’t have enough money, you will have to make compromises. So let us tell you about the Nissan Navara VE. It’s such a perfect mix of top-of-the-line features at midrange pricing that one of us bought one. 

4.0 / 5
2021 Nissan Navara VE Calibre AT Review
Performance
Engine Output (HP), Acceleration, Transmission, Handling
3.5/5
Design
Exterior & Interior Design, Quality, Fit and Finish, Ergonomics
4.0/5
Ride Comfort
Cabin Comfort, Suspension, NVH Insulation
4.0/5
Safety and Technology
Convenience Technologies, Active and Passive Safety Features
4.0/5
Value for Money
Amount of the vehicle you get for the price, Fuel Efficiency
4.5/5
What You Will Like
  • Well-equipped for a midrange variant
  • LED Headlights
  • Fully featured tech and safety package
What You Won't Like
  • Interior needs an update
  • No bedliner
How We Do Our Reviews

Honestly, when we took a look at the unit back when the Navara was first launched, and the initial impression was “wow.” If you weren’t paying attention, you might mistake it for a top-spec VL, and perhaps the PRO-4X if you’re barely awake and in dire need of a cup of coffee. Granted, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the VE for a top-spec variant if you only look at the front end. 

2021 Nissan Navara VE Philippines exterior front

We’re so glad that Nissan didn’t make its multi-projector LED headlight into a VL or PRO-4X variant exclusive, in fact, it’s a standard piece of kit of most of the lineup—VE included. The output is phenomenal at its price point, and you even get LED taillights so you can also inch closer to the look of the VL. In general, regardless of which variant you get, it’s still a great-looking truck. Nissan really hits the nail on the head when it comes to the Navara’s styling. 

As for dimensions, it’s similar to the pre-facelift. The bed still carries the same volume and the same amount of weight, and the wheels are still 17-inches in diameter finished in silver. The design is alright, but really, the biggest pro in the Navara’s book is that its facelift really is something you’ll love to look at. However, one big complaint that we have against Nissan’s pickup is the fact that you still have to buy your bedliner separately. We asked the dealership how much it would cost to get one installed and the OEM part costs around P11,000. Unfortunately, you can’t bundle this in with the car, and it has to be purchased separately from the car. So if you’re going to make an inquiry, be sure to tell your agent to put it in the invoice unless you’re good with scratching the paint on the bed. 

The inside of the Navara VE is nothing but workhorse styling. It’s not all that bad. The interior fits the theme of the segment. You want something that isn’t too finicky and not too high maintenance. The dashboard is smooth and unassuming enough for it to disappear and keep your eyes on the road. However, what Nissan did get right is the steering wheel. It’s an absolute joy to use and it’s a substantial improvement over the previous generation’s. It also looks phenomenal and certainly takes away from the workhorse feel. 

2021 Nissan Navara VE Philippines air conditioner system

For a mid-range model, we’re alright with it having cloth seats with manual adjustment. In the hot weather of the Philippines, paired with the immaculately cool air conditioning for the front and rear passengers, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success. 

Space in the rear is also quite good. Individuals about 6-feet tall will be able to fit with a shorter driver upfront. You won’t have a problem fitting 3 people on the rear bench, there is a center armrest with cupholders to sit back and relax, but your seating position at the back is expectedly upright. 

2021 Nissan Navara VE Philippines wheels

This is a Navara after all, and the ride comfort is much better compared to the other midrange models out in the market. The ride isn’t as hard compared to the other pickups out in the market thanks to the coil springs in the rear. Even if it has coil springs, however, Nissan still retained its payload capacity of about 1000 kg.  

You can’t really compare this model to a crossover—it’s a truck after all, but it is definitely more refined going over a bump on the road. The chassis handles itself well and feels put together tight. You can easily make the Navara a daily driver going over uneven roads, and you will also find that it has a fairly good amount of NVH suppression. The cabin is quiet at speed and the road noise is kept to a minimum. The tires may have something to do with that since it comes with a highway terrain set and not an all-terrain set. 

2021 Nissan Navara VE Philippines infotainment

Just because this is a mid-range model, doesn’t mean that Nissan didn’t give it any love in the tech department. You get what you need with the 8-inch N-Connect infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We also found its speakers to be quite enjoyable, and it also comes with a reverse camera. Other manufacturers might not even equip their mid-ranger with a rear camera and opt only for sensors, but the Navara gets both. 

2021 Nissan Navara VE Philippines gauge cluster

The gauge cluster is also updated for this facelift, and it’s a joy to use. The screen is now bigger and the readouts are now clearer. Nissan really hit the nail on the head. We liked the previous iterations for its dials, but not so much for that portrait-oriented screen. This time around, the Navara gets a larger screen down the middle that takes up more of the empty space. 

2021 Nissan Navara VE Philippines charing port

Frankly, we don’t really have any gripes about the tech package in the Navara. For the price you pay, it’s fair to expect a bit more especially with the number of blank switches in the cabin, but do note that even the top-spec PRO-4X has its fair share of that as well. 

Instead of going all out with the features, and leaving safety as a top-of-the-line exclusive, Nissan decided to give us 6 airbags instead of the standard dual front set that we’re used to seeing if it’s not the top of the line model. On top of that, you get Intelligent Emergency Braking, which is a surprising add-on for such a middle-of-the-road variant. It’s not as intrusive either, preferring to nudge you to stop and then stopping rather than taking control of the brakes right away. Considering the traffic situation in the Philippines and our experience with other similar systems, this type of execution gets a nod. 

As for the other systems in play, you get ABS with EBD, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Driver Attention Alert, an engine immobilizer, speed-sensing door locks, and ISOFIX tethers. 

2021 Nissan Navara VE Philippines driving

Powered by a 2.5-liter turbo-diesel engine with 4 cylinders, the Navara makes quick work of city streets and highway runs. The 7-speed gearbox is also non-intrusive, and smooth to shift. We’ll just complain a bit about the speed of its shifts in manual mode, but there’s little chance that this midsize pickup will find itself on the race track—we’re not stopping you though. 

2021 Nissan Navara VE Philippines rear

The power and torque figures are stated at 187 hp and 430 Nm of torque. Easily making it a capable truck for anyone looking for a hauler. Acceleration at lower engine speeds is quite good and the throttle is not marred by an economy mode, it’s just pure diesel fun. We will admit that it’s what we’ve come to expect from pickups nowadays, but at least at this price point, you get a full-powered engine and not some offshoot like the lower trims available in other brands. 

The handling is quite nice. The chassis is well behaved while driving on city streets, and turning with the Navara at speed feels more planted than its competition. Just don’t go for a moose test. You won’t flip over, but it does have quite a bit of body roll once you start to reach the limit of its tires. To add, the steering is quite nice. It’s not the lightest in its class, but it strikes a good balance between feel and convenience. 

2021 Nissan Navara VE Philippines rear clip

In the city, we were able to manage about 8 kilometers per liter on a bad day and up to 13 km/L on a good day with no traffic. Our average speed during our fast city run is roughly around 60 km/h. On the highway, we were able to squeeze out 20 km/L making the Navara VE one of the more frugal pickups we’ve tested so far. Not bad, but it is lighter and doesn’t have a 4x4 system and only one person was in the car during the test. 

2021 Nissan Navara VE Philippines front clip

Go out and buy this thing already. If you’ve been looking for a pickup truck that blends top-of-the-line functionality and style with mid-range pricing, this is the one to get. 

The VE Calibre AT 4x2 Navara is priced at P1,459,000, which is great considering that it gets some neat goodies and the legendary Navara comfort. Just factor in the Bedliner, and you’ll be paying roughly around the P1,470,000 price point—it’s still sub P1,500,000, however. 

That being said, to get to the same power figures and close to the feature set found in the Navara, you might have to give up the automatic transmission, which can be a dealbreaker for quite a few people. The Ford Ranger has variants around the same price point but they’re equipped with a weaker engine, and not as much tech. The 2.0-liter single turbo engine with similar figures to the Navara goes over the P1,500,000 mark but could be worth a look if you prefer a more safety kit. The Hilux, meanwhile, also gets a lower-spec engine, but at least at the same price as the Navara, you get an automatic transmission and the Conquest package. It’s just that we weren’t too impressed with its ride comfort. Finally, Isuzu is nowhere to be found in the Navara VE’s price range, but it undercuts the competition in the midrange with the 3.0-liter LS-A, but you’ll end up suffering a bit in terms of ride comfort. 

I actually got a bunch of quotes from Nissan through AutoDeal. While shopping for a new car, I was promptly got a reply from the number of dealers using the 3-Quote feature. It was quick and painless, and I’d personally like to recommend potential buyers to try it. It’s free of charge too! 


Specifications

Engine

2.5 L

Fuel Type

Diesel

Performance

187 hp @ 3,600 rpm

Transmission

Automatic

Summary

Name Nissan Navara VE Calibre AT 4x2
Body Type Pickup Truck
Price ₱1,459,000
Transmission Type Automatic

Engine

Performance

Economy & Environment

Dimensions

Safety & Security

Features

Technology


Colors

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