Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2012 Nissan Navara.
I recently had a drive of the new top of the range 4×4 Holden Colorado LX (you can catch that review here) so by default this review is going to be a bit of comparison between the two models.
Firstly, as I mentioned in the Colorado review, if you’ve decided you want the “versatility” of a 4×4 dual-cab you need to be prepared to hand over big dollars, and make compromises.
Those comprises cover almost every aspect of driving and living with one of these vehicles.
Firstly a bit of detail on the Nissan Navara, the range starts at $30,600, the V6 turbo diesel ST-X range starts at $56,990 for the D40 and tops out at $62,990 for the flagship 550 version.
I had the D40 which is essentially the same vehicle as the 550 but without a few luxuries and other features such as a reversing camera.
For $56,990 you get a 3.0 litre turbo diesel engine that boasts a very healthy 170kW and 550Nm.
The ST-X range is only available in auto – a seven speed transmission.
Standard features in the D40 include dual-zone climate control, trip computer, 17” alloys, Bluetooth, cruise control, rear sports bar and leather steering wheel and transmission selector.
The V6 diesel is a little hesitant down low however once the turbo kicks in and you hit 2500rpm or so the Navara really gets along nicely, almost to the point where you have to remind yourself that this is a dual-cab 4×4, impressive!
This engine is also very quiet, other than the rather pleasing throaty exhaust note it creates.
The transmission, with seven ratios, is also hard to beat.
Most importantly fuel consumption is very reasonable – I averaged 10.5L/100 in the city, the official figure is a combined 9.3L/100.
On the road the Nissan Navara is generally a step above the Colorado, and for what it is, is pretty good.
Like the Holden offering the big Nissan has a bit of trouble with bends with body roll very evident, this also leads to squealing tyres even during relatively low speed manoeuvres.
Generally however the ride gets a tick mark, not a bad effort given the rear suspension is the antiquated leaf-spring variety.
The steering is a touch on the heavy side and I did notice from time to time that when the engine revs were down some of the power steering assistance seemed to disappear.
Other than that the steering is much more direct and reassuring than what the Colorado displayed.
I was disappointed that the Navara displayed a very spongy brake pedal - almost as bad as the Holden offerings, a brake pedal feel I described as “the worst I have ever come across”.
If you’re going to take the Nissan Navara dual-cab off road the 4×4 selector is very easy to use, approach angle is excellent, departure angle isn’t so great and watch those side-steps which to me look very vulnerable!
The vehicle comes with snow and mud rated off-road tyres.
On the surface the Navara D40 holds up very well against its competition with non-offensive styling highlighted by some nice chrome additions such on the wing mirrors and grille.
To the cabin now and this is where the Navara is really let down, and this is the main area where that word “compromise” kicks in.
The seats are firm and flat, there’s dull, hard plastic surfaces right throughout and the whole feel, lay-out and design of the interior is dated and uninspiring.
Cabin storage areas are also on the less-than-generous side, except for the under seat bins in the back which are handy.
Leg room up front is good and only reasonable in the rear.
I was also really disappointed to see that the Nissan Navara offers tilt only steering adjustment.
In saying all that there are two highlights inside – the soft fabric upper door trims and the chrome touches on the door handles, Nissan steering wheel badge and around the transmission selector.
On the safety front the Navara trails the Colorado and a few of its main competitors with only a 4-Star ANCAP rating.
Summing the Navara up, it’s got a great engine and transmission, just passable ride and handling, nice looks, but a very poor interior.
Would I buy it over the Colorado? No, the top of the range LX Colorado is only $47,490, has a 5-Star ANCAP rating and while it doesn’t have as good an engine as the Nissan Navara the Holden’s four-cylinder diesel (132kW and 470Nm) punches above its weight well enough to prompt me to pocket the extra cash.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel delivering 170kW and 550Nm
Transmission: 7-speed auto
Safety: Four stars
Price: From $56,990
For further information, please see Recalls and faults: Nissan D40 Navara utility.