It's that time again to break out the gumboots and a warm coat for the National Fieldays, which for 2023, returns to its normal mid-winter timeslot.
However, its improved refinement levels made the biggest impression on us.
The previous model Navara was reasonably quiet and refined, but the changes made in the latest update of an old favourite have noticeably elevated the refinement levels. It was the one thing passengers commented on: how quiet it was inside, and not just ‘for a truck’ – NVH improvements, including acoustic glass in the windscreen, have really worked a treat.
Nissan has added insulation to the engine bay and bulkhead, improved cabin insulation to reduce both noise and vibration inside, and added 3-layer insulation in the dash and floor carpet (in the double cab models). It makes for a much more relaxed drive.
The suspension set-up with coil sprung rear was always a good riding package and, under the skin, the chassis is basically unchanged – so ride and handling remain good for the ute sector. Changes that have been made to the steel bits underneath include a strengthened rear axle, increased rear brake diameter (+25mm), and extra ventilation to the front disc brakes.
Payload is 1-tonne and braked towing remains 3,500kg.
The new front end is brash, taking design cues from its big American cousin, the V8 Titan, but it works well, giving the Navara a sturdier chin than it had. Forward of the A-pillar the sheet metal is all new, and the tray is also new – now higher-sided and deeper. It comes together nicely, giving the truck more presence on the road.
In ST-X grade, you still get the capable 2.3-litre intercooled, twin-turbo diesel, producing 140kW power and 450Nm torque in a very useable 1,500-2,500rpm rev range. On the road, it provides effortless progress and is better left to lug along in Normal mode than to rev its head of in Sport mode.
Similarly, the seven speed auto makes good decisions about how to deploy the prodigious torque and is best left to its own devices.
A tried and true drivetrain, now with four drive modes – Standard, Sport, Tow and Off-road – on 4WD models ST grade and above.
The other notable changes are to safety: all models get forward collision warning, intelligent emergency braking and driver alert. ST-X grade and above also get blind spot warning & intervention, lane departure warning & intervention, rear cross traffic alert and reverse parking sensors.
Inside all grades get a better 8-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, new 7-inch ‘drive-assist’ display between the main dials, a new steering wheel design and better seats with improved countering, including in the back.
The ST-X Auto double cab Rural News tested retails at $67,490. But the Navara range starts at $41,990 for the 2WD single cab, going up to $70,490 for the tricked-up PRO-4X Auto.