2019 Nissan Navara N-Trek Review

Utes are big business these days, with two of Australia’s top-selling vehicles constantly being the workhorse cum adventure vehicle. How do you be one up on your competitors and push even more sales? Special edition models. And that’s what Nissan has done with the Navara. It’s fancily called the N-Trek and priced from $56,450 for the 6-speed manual and $58,950 for the 7-speed auto alternative.

Nissan is no stranger to special edition utes, having introduced the Navara Dual Cab 4X4 SL-based Silverline and ST Black Edition last year, and the N-Sport Black Edition the year before. This time around, the N-Trek is based on the range-topping Navara Dual Cab 4X4 ST-X and aimed at those who want a bit of style with their ute but can’t be bothered dressing it up themselves.

And Nissan sure did a commendable job in dressing up the N-Trek, with the special edition model bringing a range of black Nissan genuine parts and accessories as standard equipment, plus a number of interior enhancements. 

Making instant visual statement are none other than those black fender flares in which tucked gloss black 18-inch alloy wheels. They are matched by black lower body side decals that run the length of the ute, black side steps, black door handles and black side mirror housing.

Up front, the black theme continues with the front grille, headlamp bezels, fog lamp surrounds and skid plate getting gloss black treatment. Further aback, the black theme is also applied to the alloy black roof rails, sportsbar and rear bumper.

Of course no special edition is complete without some obligatory badges and in the case of the Navara you’ll find a subtle N-Trek badge on the tailgate.

Despite being 4 years old, the Navara is still one of the better looking utes on sale today and the styling really takes a step up with the N-Trek edition. This thing, in the dark metallic grey colour (Slate Grey in Nissan speak) of our test car, does look pretty darn good. If this colour isn’t your cup of tea, you still have a choice of white or black.

Perhaps, the only complaint some of us in the ForceGT team have about the exterior upgrade is the rather odd orange accent line in the side steps, mirror caps and front skid plate. For those who share the same sentiment, afraid not as it’s just a sticker that can be easily peeled off if desired.

Beware though, as the orange accent is carried through to the interior and is what sets the N-Trek apart from the rest of the range. The leather upholstered seats feature orange fabric seat inserts, while orange accent stitching is applied on the seats, centre console, front door armrests and steering wheel.

Other than those, the N-Trek’s cabin is largely identical to the ST-X on which it is based. This means you get a cohesive and well laid out dashboard, with a clear and concise instrumentation cluster and big blocky switchgear buttons that no doubt will be welcomed by those mucky fingers of off road junkies.

Not surprisingly, the interior is heavily dependent on scratchy but hard-wearing plastics, but key contact points like the steering wheel, centre and door armrests still feel nicely padded.

Being a ST-X grade underneath, the N-Trek also gets creature comfort features such as power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumber and heated front seats. As part of the recently rolled out Navara Series 4 updates, the N-Trek edition also features Nissan’s so called Alliance In-Vehicle Infotainment (AIVI) system featuring the larger 8-inch colour touchscreen with a redesigned user interface and menu, and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto device mirroring – connected via USB cable.

Other standard equipment includes Bluetooth handsfree phone and audio streaming, dual zone climate control air conditioning, remote keyless entry and push button start and satellite navigation.

With a maximum 5 star ANCAP safety rating, the Navara N-Trek’s safety is taken care of by a reverse camera, reversing sensors, 360 degree Around View Monitor, seven airbags including a driver knee airbag, ISOFIX, Vehicle Dynamic Control with Brake Limited Slip Differential, Active Brake Limited Slip and Brake Assist as standard equipment. 

Sadly, being the new range-topper (discounting the off-road focused N-Trek Warrior) we were expecting to see more active safety such as adaptive cruise control (normal cruise control fitted only) and blind spot monitor.

To tackle the rough stuff, the N-Trek is equipped with Hill Start Assist, Hill Decent Control, an electronic rear differential lock and shift-on-the-fly high-range four-wheel drive, along with low-range gearing. 

With a 3,150mm wheelbase – one of the longest in the segment – the Navara’s cabin is one of the most spacious in class, and this is especially evident in the rear, with rear seat comfort boosted by a less vertical rear seat back cushion, rear vents and more room all-around. There’s also a rear power-sliding glass window for improved ventilation or carrying long, slender objects.

Practicality is right up there, too. There are four front row and two rear row cup holders, and two bottle holders for both front and rear rows. Storage options include the glove box, large concealed bin in the centre console, overhead sunglasses holder and flip up rear seats with concealed storage underneath.

Dual-cab models also feature three 12-volt power sockets in the dashboard, centre console tray and centre console storage box. A fourth, weather-proof 12-volt power socket resides in the rear tub.

If you’re looking to use your ute as more of a daily driven vehicle, with the occasional off road excursion, and not as an out-and-out heavy duty hauler, you’d be more than pleased with the Navara’s SUV-like handling and ride comfort. Key to it all is that controversial suspension setup, which utilises coil springs in the rear in lieu of the usual leaf springs. The aim is to deliver a less bouncy and jiggly ride than what you’d normally expect from a ute, and it’s hard to deny that it does exactly that.

The N-Trek’s suspension is tuned no differently to the standard ST-X and the way it irons out bumps and ruts is truly impressive. While you might hear them, you rarely feel them. The ride is indeed very similar to an SUV, making potholes, level crossings and rough roads far less of a battle than in other utes.

It feels nicely composed when you chuck it into a bend, too, though the steering is slow and requires a few more twirling of the steering from lock to lock. It takes some getting used to if you have never driven a pickup, but is characteristic of the segment. This is done to minimise sudden steering wheel kickback when encountering obstacles off road.

Of course all these come in the expense of the Navara’s credentials as a workhorse. Load up the tray in the back and you’ll notice some sagging in the rear, though with the Series 4 update it’s much less than before. With heavy load acting on the rear coil springs, you’ll notice the already numb steering going a tad light and feeling even more vague. But we’re talking about filling up the tub with a full load here, any less and the coil springs would still hold up nicely and the Navara would still haul without breaking too much of a sweat.

And the task of pulling falls to the 2.3-litre intercooled twin-turbo diesel engine that outputs 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque between 1,500rpm and 2,500rpm. The engine is responsive and packs quite a bit of grunt, although it can be a little vocal. Braked towing capacity is rated at 3,500kg.

Power is transferred to the wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission as fitted to our tester (or standard 6-speed manual). Like its ride quality, the drivetrain as a whole is quite refined and compliant for a light commercial vehicle and that makes the Navara great as a lifestyle vehicle or even a family car.

When it comes to off road, the aforementioned off road techs endow the Navara N-Trek with respectable performance on the rough stuff, with excellent torque distribution from its four-wheel drive system, ensuring good traction on a variety of terrain. When the going gets really tough however, the N-Trek will need better ground clearance and chunkier tyres.

In terms of running cost, the Navara doesn’t disappoint. The diesel mill is amazingly economical on the freeway, zipping around 6.0L/100km on test. It isn’t too shabby around town, too, hovering at around 9.0L/100km. At the end of our week long test, the N-Trek returned a very respectable 8.3L/100km. Its service interval is also longer than many rivals, only requiring a visit to the dealer every 20,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.

Verdict

Design & Comfort

8.5/10

Performance & Handling

7.5/10

Quality

8.0/10

Economy

8.0/10

Equipment & Features

7.5/10

OUR SCORE

3.9/5

Our Score: 3.9/5

+ Plus

  • Rugged good looks
  • SUV-like handling and ride comfort
  • Smooth drivetrain
  • Well equipped

Minus

  • Not as serious of a workhorse as rivals
  • Needs chunkier tyres for off-road duties

Overall

The Nissan Navara N-Trek special edition combines a beefed up exterior with an SUV-like driving feel in a rugged package that will surely resonate well with private buyers looking for a lifestyle ute that is good at both work and play.

But you could also buy the mechanically identical ST-X for $3,700 less. With the premium that the N-Trek asks over the ST-X, could Nissan have done more? We think so, and a decent set of all-terrain tyres and added safety features such as adaptive cruise control would have made the N-Trek a truly excellent buy.

2019 Nissan Navara N-Trek Pricing and Specification

Price (Excl. on-road costs) From: $56,450

As tested: $59,545

Options added: Premium paint ($595)

Warranty 5 years / unlimited km
Warranty Customer Assistance 5 years roadside assist
Country of Origin Japan (built in Thailand)
Service Intervals 12 months/20,000km
Engine 2.3-litre four-cylinder common-rail direct-injection twin-turbo diesel:

140kW @ 3,750rpm, 450Nm @ 1,500-2,500rpm

Transmission 6-speed manual / 7-speed automatic (tested)
Drivetrain Four-wheel drive
Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg) 70.1
0-100km/h (seconds): N/A
Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km) Claimed: 6.5 / Tested: 8.3
RON Rating N/A
Fuel Capacity (L) 80
Body Dual Cab Pickup, 5-seats
Safety 5-star ANCAP, 7 airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, VSC, Hill Descent Control (HDC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS), 360-degree camera
Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm 5,255/1,850/1,855/3,150
Kerb Weight (kg) 1,987
Payload (kg) 914
Turning circle between kerbs 12.4
Ground Clearance: 228
Wading Depth: 600
Wading Depth: 600
Approach Angle: 33.2
Departure Angle: 28.2
Breakover Angle: 24.7
Towing Capacity (kg): Braked: 3,500/ Unbraked: 750
Entertainment 8.0-inch touchstreen infotainment system, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, USB, AUX, CD, AM/FM, six-speaker stereo, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto

Competitors:

Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton, Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado, Volkswagen Amarok, Mazda BT-50, Isuzu D-Max

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