Tested: Nissan’s tough dual-cab ute
Loaded utes are hot property, with high-end versions proving the most popular option for many brands.
Nissan's Navara is no different, with the likes of the ST-X at the top of the sales tree.
Intended to take on the likes of Toyota's HiLux SR5, the Navara ST-X brings features such as smart keys, dual-zone climate control and 18-inch wheels that make it feel more like an SUV than a work-ready ute.
Priced from $55,250 with seven-speed automatic, the ST-X can be brought upstream with options such as an electric sunroof ($1000) and leather seats with electric driver's adjustment ($1500), pushing it towards the top of the pick-up pyramid.
Those optional leather seats are reasonably comfortable for long days in the saddle. Handy items are the seven-inch touchscreen with satnav and 360-degree camera and the tie-down points in its tray. Introduced in 2015, the Navara's cabin is starting to feel a little dated but there's plenty of space front and rear. Running changes to the suspension continue to improve its road manners.
The Navara is available in Europe with active driver aids such as autonomous emergency braking but misses out on that tech in Australia. The five-star safety rating, handed down in 2015, wouldn't apply if retested today as standards have become stricter each year. Nissan Australia hopes to get auto braking and active cruise control tech into the Navara soon, so safety conscious buyers might consider waiting a little longer for more comprehensive kit.
The current generation NP300 Navara had a difficult start to life in Australia. Most pick-ups run leaf spring rear suspension but the Navara has car-like coils, which aren't necessarily ideal for heavy loads.
Updates have included much faster steering ratio and stiffer rear springs, making it a better all-rounder, more capable of carrying weight in the tray and more precise in day-to-day driving.
The diesel (140kW/450Nm) is reasonably smooth, with able assistance from the sophisticated seven-speed automatic. It's not the most powerful in its class but gets the job done with a minimum of fuss.
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium, from $51,990 plus on-roads
Stocked with kit for a competitive price, the range-topping Triton is worth a look. It has more safety gear than the Nissan but can't match its 3500kg towing capacity.
Toyota HiLux SR5, from $54,440 plus on-roads
Dependable, rugged and proven, the HiLux is the most popular vehicle in the country for a reason. Some rivals present better value and bring more tech - but they don't bring a Toyota badge.
VW Amarok 3.0 TDI Core, from $52,590 plus on-roads
Taking a different tack, the Amarok V6 has outstanding road manners and a thumping engine with 180kW/550Nm - greater outputs than anything else at this price.
Comfortable and well-equipped, its dated safety suite apart, the Navara is a solid buy backed by Nissan's affordable finance offers.
Nissan Navara ST-X Auto
Price: From $55,250 plus on-roads
Engine: 2.3-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 140kW/450Nm
Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags, stability control, 360-degree camera