Test Drive – Nissan Navara 3.0 AT, the rugged off-roader image

The Nissan Navara will probably receive a new generation soon, just like its more expensive brother, the Pathfinder, but until it will do, we have went for a spin in it.

Engine and Transmission

The engine used for the Nissan Navara we drove was the same one fitted onto the Nissan Pathfinder, the 3.0 liter turbo diesel, which is providing the same amount of 230 HP, at 3,750 rpm, and it has the same 550 Nm of torque, offered as low as 1,750 rpm. The model is lighter than the Pathfinder and this can be easily noticed while pushing the gas pedal. However, the rear end feels too easy and the wheels may lose grip sometimes.

Fuel Consumption

Living with the Nissan Navara isn’t easy when speaking about its fuel consumption because, despite the fact it’s lighter than the Pathfinder, you will still have to fill it up quite often. For example, in two-wheel drive, the model will burn an average of 14 liters / 100 km in the city, despite the official figure being 10.7 / 100 km. Taking the Navara on the highway won’t drop your fuel consumption too much because at an average speed of 100 km/h, with the cruise control on, the trip computer indicated an average fuel consumption of 9.0 L / 100 km, way more than the official consumption which Nissan is telling us that it stands at 7.2 L / 100 km. The average fuel consumption will stand at 10.0 L in normal 4×2 driving.

The Ride

The Nissan Navara isn’t a comfortable vehicle but, then again, it wasn’t designed to be comfortable. The pick-up truck will gladly take you from A to B even if there is no road between the two points. The model’s off-road abilities are close to perfection and, if you’re an off-road enthusiast, all you will have to do is buy some off-road tires, a winch and some huge lights for the roof and you’re set to go exploring. I must admit that I’m not into off-roading but I couldn’t help myself in taking the model for a spin near the main road.

The low-range gearbox, which is available at the touch of a button, along with the 4-wheel drive, are enough to let you explore the surroundings without getting dirt on your shoes. The driving position is high but you will be able to feel exactly what every wheel is doing and if you have enough grip to carry on or if you have to turn around and look for another way in. The steering isn’t too precise in the city but on the grass, on gravel, stone or any other surface, it will do its job just like it was designed to.

Interior Design

The interior design of the Nissan Navara is providing you with the usual Bluetooth, USB, AUX inputs, with the Bose premium sound system in the top of the line version, with satellite navigation system, a rearview camera, handy when trying to turn around in a forest and you’re afraid that you might scratch the paint and with some other “goodies”, like the automatic climate control, seat heater, trip computer, a sunroof which can be opened in order to let some fresh air in and leather seats.

The rear-seat legroom is a problem once again because, just like in the Pathfinder, there isn’t any. This will be constantly reminded to you when the passengers will ask you to move your seat forward. But because this is rugged vehicle, you can grow something else, besides a beard, and tell them to suck it up and live with it.

And speaking about a rugged vehicle, the Navara is made to last. Starting with the plastics fitted onto the dashboard and to some other panels, going through the buttons, which are making a sound of their own when they are being pressed and ending with the key, which screams out “testosterone”. In fact, the whole pick-up truck looks like it’s on steroids and this is a big plus. Personally, I wouldn’t have been offended if Nissan had handed me a hammer and a piece of metal and told me that these are the keys because, honestly, they will fit in just perfect. So if you want to live with a cozy, comfortable and soft vehicle, which lacks personality, the Navara isn’t made for you, but if you’re the kind of guy who prefers to go into the woods and cut some wood for the new bed, instead of going to Ikea, than this is the ride for you. You may even give it a name, Butch is a good suggestion.

Likes / Dislikes

There aren’t many things which I liked in the Navara but the overall design impressed me. That “look at me, I’m on steroids” design wins a big plus. Another plus, or more, goes to the plastics used in the cabin, which have been made to last. The automatic transmission is doing its job just perfect, as well as the engine, so my suggestion is go for these, instead of the 2.5-liter diesel and the manual gearbox. Leather on the seats means less time spent cleaning the vehicle so, again, this is a “must”, as well as the sunroof. The satellite navigation system does its job pretty good and you will be able to find your way back to the main road easily. The rearview camera is good too for when trying to maneuver the vehicle into tight spaces.

We must admit that despite not being an ergonomic vehicle, the Navara has easy to use buttons, where each one has a specific function. For example if you want to make a telephone call, you have to push the “telephone” button. Entering the desired destination into the satellite navigation system can sometimes be a big pain, but not in the Navara, because this is done simple, at another touch of a button. And having one-function buttons can be easily translated into a design made to last and a cheaper service bill.

But while the ups are quite a lot, we must mention the downs too, because they will probably make you angrier with time. One of these “downs” are the headlights, which are quite poor. There is no cornering function, no auto-leveling function and not even a manual leveling button. So make sure they are properly aligned before going for a trip. The steering is useless in a crowded city and you will have to turn the steering wheel quite a few times if you want to park it. There is also some noticeable torque steering and the buttons aren’t where you expect them to be and you will have to reach for some. The price of the Nissan Navara we tested was close to 40,000 euros, so this isn’t a cheap vehicle.