Fully kitted-out dual-cab has brawn and brains
Fish where the fish are. That’s why we’ve seen a proliferation of special edition utes hitting the market.
Dual-cab utes are Australia’s most popular vehicles and manufacturers are engaging in a battle of the bling.
Nissan is attacking the market with vigour, and while there is a hardcore Navara Warrior coming next month, a recent arrival is the N-Trek derivative that starts from $56,490 drive-away for the six-speed manual, add $2500 for the auto (ABN holders can cut $2K off those figures). That’s a price increase of $4000 over the previously range-topping ST-X on which the N-Trek is based.
Previous Black Editions of the Navara proved successful, so this will be a permanent showroom addition featuring a range of the most popular accessories.
Product manager Chris Schultz said last year they had seen a transition from those spending money on souped-up V8s.
“Previously it was all just performance-based or towing capability, and there is still that aspect, but people want them to look tough and cool as well,” he said.
Nissan has added a heap of kit inside and out to justify the price increase – many buyers spend this kind of coin on new utes to deliver the look and performance they’re chasing.
Colour-coded features ensure N-Trek stands apart from other Navaras, including 18-inch alloys arched by bigger fenders, grille, roof rails and alloy sportsbar all in black, side steps with orange decal and the matching orange accent line is also on the lower front fascia and mirror caps.
Inside there are leather accented seats with orange fabric inserts as well as orange stitching on the seats, centre console, front door armrests and steering wheel. Other additional gear includes a power adjustable driver’s seat and heated front chairs.
One brilliant inclusion is an eight-inch colour touchscreen that includes smartphone mirroring apps Apple CarPlay and Android Auto when using a USB cable.
Three N-Trek external colours are available, black and $595 premium options grey and white. Extra peace of mind comes via a seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty that’s available until the end of December (usually five years) with roadside assist, while the latest extra sweetener is a $3500 EFTPOS card.
Capped price servicing is available from Nissan dealers, and total cost for six maintenance visits is $3769 – you’ll pay slightly more for manual transmissions. Service intervals are annual or every 20,000km.
The five-star safety rating carries over from 2015, and the requirements are now more stringent.
Some dual-cabs have dramatically improved their credentials in recent times, with the Mitsubishi Triton, Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux having safety tech like blind spot warning, radar cruise control and autonomous emergency braking to help avoid or lessen the impact of a frontal collision.
It’s not yet available in the Navara, but this model does have a reversing camera and sensors, 360-degree around view that projects the vehicle’s surrounds onto the central colour monitor, hill start assist and hill descent control, as well as LED headlights.
Things are mighty plush for a dual-cab. The orange highlights break-up the predominantly black colour scheme.
There is still liberal use of hard plastics, remembering this is a work truck, but the N-Trek additions provide a degree of luxury. Dual-zone aircon and push button start are extra niceties.
Utes double as family chariots nowadays and the Navara remains composed on the bitumen, off-road and fully loaded. This is the third update since it was launched, so it took a few attempts before getting things right.
Don’t expect a plush ride. Engineers still have to deliver compliance with and without a load in the back, but those in the back don’t need to wear a kidney belt.
The leading new feature is the central touchscreen. Dramatically improving functionality, it’s a big step forward from what we’ve seen before from Nissan. The hands-free system received plaudits during phone calls for its clarity.
Combine the smartphone mirroring function with the simplicity of the buttons across the dash and the cabin is a cohesive environment.
Nothing changes mechanically, and the N-Trek still runs the same 2.3-litre turbo diesel that’s used across the range.
Some buyers are gun-shy about turbo four-cylinder engines. Many other manufacturers have also shifted to the force-fed four-potters, and this Nissan unit is strong and smooth. It works nicely in tandem with the seven-speed auto, which will be the primary choice for most – even tradies now prefer autos.
All of the latest Navaras feature a dual-stage rear suspension which is designed to perform better laden and without a load. Tight urban carparks can require some serious arm twirling, like any dual-cab, but it performs well on and off the bitumen.
Some long highway travels saw the N-Trek return average fuel consumption of just below eight litres for every 100km.
The work truck needs to deliver for the family as well. I’ll be among the best dressed at the campsite.
Tough looks and the technical trinkets of the latest cars, it’s a dual cab with brawn and brains.
TOYOTA HILUX RUGGED X $65,990 drive-away
The Rugged is a big leap from the SR5 auto on which it’s based, powered by a 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 130kW/450Nm. It also stands out on the road but has surprising refinement with a slick interior. Great resale as part of the Toyota 4x4 family.
FORD RANGER 4X4 WILDTRACK X $64,990
The accepted benchmark for comfort and cornering prowess, the Ranger also comes with an impressive array of safety features. This special edition is available with a 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre 5-cyl turbo diesel or a 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre 4-cyl bi-turbo diesel with a 10-speed auto for $2000 more.
Great looks and vastly improved infotainment ensure the N-Trek stands out from the pack. Significantly less money than some primary rivals, it presents as a compelling package.
AT A GLANCE
NISSAN NAVARA N-TREK
PRICE $58,990 drive-away (good in comparison to rivals)
WARRANTY/PRICING 7 year/unlimited km w’ty (great current deal), $3769 for six services (OK)
ENGINE 2.3-litre twin turbo diesel 140kW/ 450Nm (strong and willing)
SAFETY 5 star, 7 airbags, around view camera, two Isofix points, electronic rear differential lock, hill start assist (underdone against rivals)
THIRST 7.0/100km (reasonable, 7.9L/100km on test)
SPARE Alloy full-size spare (excellent)
TOWING 3500kg towing, payload 917kg (good)