Extended family

Fulfilling a dual-purpose role for more buyers than ever before, the once-humble work ute has evolved into the ultimate family lifestyle vehicle.

Heralding big advances in sheer ruggedness and convenience technology alike, the new Nissan Navara is fit-for-purpose… whatever purpose you have in mind.

Words Cameron Officer Photos Vinesh Kumaran


Behold the new shape of the family vehicle. Once upon a time a faithful station wagon or three-box sedan of adequate proportions was all any nuclear unit ever required to get them to work, school, the shops, and that festive season camping trip.

But tastes and trends are ever evolving and today the average Kiwi motor camp at Christmas is home to more utes than a quarrying and mining industry conference car park.

The modern ute has become a byword for ‘lifestyle’ in a way that no other automotive market segment or body style has before. Equally at home on the work site or at the weekend mountain bike park, Kiwis love their utes.

It’s a truism reflected in the national vehicle registration figures month after month, and also by the fact that no sooner had talk turned to government feebate schemes for new and used electric and hybrid-electric vehicles in June, there was plenty of noise from ute owners pondering the fact they will be missing out. Well, for now, at least.

Utes are big business. And right on cue, the latest generation of one of the biggest in the segment has arrived. This is the new Nissan Navara: the fourth generation of Nissan’s perennial light truck to wear the Navara nameplate, which debuted in 1986, and the most advanced product to date of over 80 years of Nissan light commercial truck engineering.

No ute manufacturer in the history of light commercial vehicles has ever reduced the rugged in their next top model. It doesn’t matter whether your truck is destined for a life on tarmac or in the Tararuas; a fit-for-purpose stance is a must.

Unsurprisingly, Nissan has taken the already pretty butch D23-era Navara blueprint and beefed it up again for its next-gen terrain tackler. The styling changes are most notable when looking at the new Navara head-on: there is an unapologetic nod to the North American market Nissan Titan pick-up truck range in the redesigned quad LED headlight clusters and that big chrome frame around the ute’s grille.

There is plenty of new detailing on show at the back of Nissan’s biggest-selling model too. An obvious point of difference is the ‘Navara’ stamped tailgate. But look closer and you’ll see the entire wellside tray has been redrawn to include a slightly higher load bed and a new sprung tailgate which can quite literally be raised and lowered with a single finger: a big change from the heavy metal slab that preceded it.

While our evaluation ute isn’t the halo PRO-4X grade, which comes with its own athletic accents, blacked-out detailing with red accents, roof racks, and grade specific all-terrain tyres (plus a whole lot more swag besides), the trusty white Double Cab ST-X iteration you see here remains the most popular option for Kiwi buyers. Nearly a third of Navaras sold nationwide will be ST-X grade trucks, so you can consider this a good catch-all for the latest advancements Nissan are unveiling with the new 2021 model.

But there remains plenty of choice besides. Navaras are available with both 4x2 and 4x4 drivetrains across three cab styles – Single, King and Double Cab – while there remain four six-speed manual transmission models in the 18-strong line-up (including a 4x4 PRO-4X manual) and 14 seven-speed autos. Both wellside tray and cab-chassis configurations

The majority of the Navara range is powered by a gutsy 2.3-litre intercooled twin turbodiesel producing 140kW peak power and 450Nm of torque. The entry-level 2WD Manual Double Cab SL arrives with a 2.3-litre single turbodiesel under the bonnet, delivering 120kW peak power and 403Nm of torque.


Befitting the Navara’s joint role as workday weapon and family transport, Nissan has ensured the latest convenience and safety technology features are onboard.


Juxtaposing the ute’s tough character and its handy 3500kg braked towing capacity, is a significant upgrade in equipment supported by a suite of advanced Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies. On ST grades and above, passenger vehicle safety features such as Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Parking Sensors, and a clever Around View camera system are all standard.

In addition to the latest infotainment upgrades accessed through a wider eight-inch touchscreen, the new Navara is quieter and more comfortable for passengers too. Increased amounts of sound deadening insulation has reduced on-road noise for both driver and occupants, while in Double Cab models, the rear seats are now even more comfortable with upgrades to the seat cushions and back shapes.


If it suits your lifestyle – and the stats suggest it should – the new Nissan Navara will easily find its place as part of the family.




Nissan Navara Double Cab ST-X 4x4


Price: $67,490 (plus ORCs) as tested


Engine: 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel
Power: 140kW
Torque: 450Nm
Transmission: seven speed automatic
Overall length: 5255mm
Width (excl. side mirrors): 1875mm
Overall height: 1830mm
Turning circle kerb-to-kerb: 12.5m
Ground clearance (unladen) 224mm
Approach angle: 32.7°
Departure angle: 20.3°
Ramp breakover angle: 23.2°
Wading depth: 600mm
Cargo bed floor length: 1509mm
Cargo bed floor width: 1560mm
Cargo bed floor width between wheel arches: 1134mm
Cargo bed height: 519mm
Gross Vehicle Mass: 3150kg
Payload: 1019kg
Braked towing capacity: 3.5-tons
Wheels and tyres: 18" alloy wheels with 255/60/R18 tyres


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