In 2019 the Light Commercial / Truck segment made up 114,428 units representing 21.2% of all cars sold in Australia.
That’s 13 new Light Trucks / Utes being delivered every hour – 24×7 – every day of the year!
When you look at what’s on offer in this segment, you can certainly see what the appeal is for literally tens of thousands of people. There is no shortage of models and options and some very good engineering.
The Nissan Navara N-TREK is no exception.
The Nissan Navara is a stalwart of this segment having been around since 1997 in a number of evolutions of what today is still a very strong, rugged and dependable light truck.
We’ve been driving the N-TREK variant which is at the top of the Navara range with the exception of the N-TREK Warrior variant which is far more for the off-road enthusiast.
I’ve always loved the idea and practicality of a dual-cab ute where four people can be comfortably accommodated with a decent sized rear-tray to house luggage or bikes or surfboards or dogs – whatever takes your fancy.
The Navara N-TREK certainly fulfils both of my requirements with plenty of comfort and a copious 1.5m square cargo bed.
|Life Style||Life Stage||Safety||On The Road|
|Urban, Active, Adventure||Small Family,|
Manufacturers are obsessed with noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) levels and I think this over-compensation sometimes results in a cramped and tight interior environment – especially in utes and trucks. This is not at all evident in the N-TREK.
The interior is reasonably quiet, comfortable and roomy. Finished with a blend of leather and an orange mesh insert in the seats, you are going to be just fine behind the wheel or in the back seats. The addition of 8-way power adjustment to the drivers seat, and two stage heating on both front seats ensures year-round comfort on any drive.
Behind the thick, leather-bound steering wheel the driving position is quite high as you would expect. Poor visibility is a trait of the entire light truck / ute category, especially to the rear. The N-TREK overcomes this to a degree with the Around View camera view that is fed to the 8 inch touch-screen display in the centre console.
Reversing sensors at the back ensure that every obstacle is avoided as much as possible. The range of the parking sensors is very good as large vehicles like the N-TREK that weigh in at just under 2 tonnes can be hard to move with finesse in car parks.
The interior is also home to 7 air-bags, 3-point lap/sash belts for every passenger – including pre-tensioners for the driver and front-passenger, and ISOFIX points in the rear for two compatible car-seats.
Elsewhere in the cabin of the N-TREK there are three 12V cigarette lighter points – with a very handy one located high on the dash just behind the windscreen in a terrific spot for sunglasses and other junk we always seem to accumulate. A seperate USB connection is also included for Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Full Bluetooth connectivity is another very welcome feature.
Dual-zone air conditioning with rear vents keeps everyone very comfortable although the maximum fan power could do with another level of two on really hot days. Privacy tinting on the rear-windows makes a huge difference in peak-Summer. An electrically operated access window from the cabin into the rear cargo area is another clever inclusion.
The instrument cluster display is another highlight of the N-TREK. I have for years now complained that if I have a car of a particular colour – let’s say red, then why can’t all the graphics of the car on the main console screen and the instrument cluster show a red car? Well, it’s two thumbs up for the N-TREK! Drivers are able to select from a range of colours for all the car graphics on the instrument cluster. Well played Nissan.
The instrumentation on the N-TREK is very easy to read in any light and the information able to be accessed in the centre display is very comprehensive including trip computer, fuel economy, compass, navigation, and access to an array of vehicle settings.
As with the interior, the N-TREK has some orange treatments on the mirrors, the running boards, and at the front under the bumper. Very subtle and from a styling perspective, not at all garish.
The N-TREK we tested was finished in Slate Grey. It’s also available in Cosmos Black and White Diamond.
Side-on the N-TREK looks extremely well proportioned with the sports bar, roof rails and flared wheel arches blending very well with the other styling highlights. The visual balance is almost perfect.
From the front however, the N-TREK is not as pleasing to the eye with the front and rear track (the distance between the left and right wheels) being 50-75mm too narrow which I think ruins the look. Wider wheels and tyres would make a huge difference.
Sturdy side-rails and grab handles make entry and exit very easy in both the front and rear.
At the rear the cargo bed is very generous with a 1.3m opening with a very strong tail-gate that will easily take a bulky load. The rear-wheel arches only reduce the wide of the cargo bed by 430mm which is very reasonable. A full-sized spare wheel is mounted to the underside of the cargo bed.
Everything on the N-TREK opens and shuts with a solid feel that instills confidence in every capability – whether you’re cruising the highway or venturing off road.
On The Road
Push the START/STOP button on the dash and the 2.3 litre twin turbo diesel engine comes to life. This is a proper 4×4 – not a sometime all-wheel drive imposter.
Available in 5-speed manual and 7-speed automatic, the N-TREK is no slouch when you get underway. There is pull-power aplenty right through the gears with the peak torque of 450Nm available from 1500 – 2500 rpm on the diesel variant.
The steering is as heavy as it needs to be without feeling like you need to loosen up your shoulder muscles before getting behind the wheel. Naturally as your speed increases, so too does the drive-ability of the Navara N-TREK.
As mentioned previously, the N-TREK weighs just under 2 tonnes so the stopping and towing power a very impressive. The 3,500kg braked towing capacity is at the top end of the category and the ventilated disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear are more than adequate to bring you to a halt with complete control.
Speaking of control the driver and safety aids fitted as standard to the N-TREK are another point on the list of things that impressed me greatly.
Anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) are standard on almost all light trucks and utes today. The addition of passive and active safety features is what I think sets the N-TREK apart.
Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and various limited slip differentials ensure power and traction go to where they are needed most – in high range two wheel or four wheel drive. Brake Assist and an impressive Traction Control System keep you in control especially in slippery and wet conditions on any road surface.
Locking differentials and a proper low-range four wheel drive system announce the N-TREK’s credentials even if the more-for-the-road tyres let you down on really slippery grass and heavy mud or sand. The very impressive ground clearance also opens up a whole new world to the adventurous driver looking to get way put the back of beyond. An old-school manual lever handbrake is yet another indication that the tough Navara DNA is still present in the 2019 models.
Controls for the 6 speaker sound system and the cruise control are located very intuitively on the steering wheel meaning the driver’s eyes are always where they need to be.
Around town the N-TREK is thirsty without being gluttonous. We saw 8.6 l/100km in the week long test. With a bit more highway driving and a little less throttle on the hills, something close to the 7.0 l/100km claim by Nissan would be achievable.
For & Against
✅ Styling is bang on for the more urban target market.
✅ Load of standard equipment and safety systems that would embarrass some European models.
✅ Comfort and space is plentiful and a very high quality for a large dual-cab ute.
❌ Narrow track makes the front-on view less appealing.
❌ Thirsty if you drive it hard – like any small turbo-charged diesel engine will be.
❌ Heavy steering at low speeds and parking.
Who Will Love This Car?
The Nissan Navara N-TREK is for buyers who are looking for great styling in a robust and comfortable dual-cab light truck / ute. It’s certainly not a 4×4 imposter. If you’re based in the city with a couple of kids, and occasionally get off the beaten path to pursue your passions, then this is the car for you.
As tested, the Nissan Navara N-TREK is currently offered at $52,990 driveaway. Visit nissan.com.au for more details.