The 2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek, designed specifically for the Australian market, looks to add to the off-road prowess of lesser variants with some new parts. But, is it just style over substance? We recently spent a week with one to find out.
Eye-catching but not over-the-top
Nissan has been building the current Navara since 2014. The model, referred to as the D23, is the third-generation of the popular pickup truck and forms the basis of both the Mercedes-Benz X-Class and Renault Alaskan. While it may not be sold in the United States, the Navara is a very serious bit of kit, rivaling the likes of the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Toyota HiLux, and Mazda BT-50.
Like so many other pickups of this size currently sold in Australia, customers have a dizzying array of Navara variants to choose from. These range from the Navara RX Single Cab Chassis starting at just AU$25,990 (US$14,471) to the Navara SL Dual Cab starting at AU$45,050 (US$25,084) and the ST-X Dual Cab available from AU$51,250 (US$28,536) in 4×4 guise with the manual.
Sitting towards the top of the range is the Navara N-Trek, priced from AU$56,450 (US$31,431) excluding on-road costs for the six-speed manual and AU$58,950 (US$32,823) for the seven-speed auto ‘box. The N-Trek slots just below the range-topping Navara N-Trek Warrior that we’re reviewing next week. Stay tuned.
The Navara N-Trek stands out on a number of fronts but at its core, is based on the ST-X Dual Cab. That’s no bad thing as the ST-X has proven itself to be extremely capable over the years and serves as the perfect starting point for the N-Trek.
Upgrades enjoyed by the model in question include plastic fender flares, distinctive side steps, a unique front bumper with a black and orange accent, black decals, a black alloy sports bar, black mirror caps, and black applied to the front grille, door handles, roof rails, rear bumper, and fog-light surrounds. There are also 18-inch black alloy wheels. It all looks very serious.
A number of new interior trimmings also come standard with the N-Trek. Most notable are the part-leather, part-fabric orange and black seats and orange contrast stitching.
Tweaking with a tried-and-tested recipe
There are just two engine options available for the Navara in Australia. The first is a single-turbo 2.3-liter diesel while the second is a twin-turbo 2.3-liter diesel. Fittingly, the N-Trek, as well as the ST-X, utilize the latter. This twin-turbocharged engine is good for 140 kW (187 hp) and 450 Nm (331 lb-ft) of torque.
Our tester saw this four-pot mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission which proved to be a good combination. When the engine is cold, it is quite noisy but once everything is warmed up, it’s impressively refined for a tradesman-focused pickup. Power is linear and torque delivery is smooth throughout the rev range. It’s far from fast but gets the job done. Similarly, the seven-speed auto is pleasant and nicer than the CVT which Nissan offers in some of its passenger car models.
During our week with the Navara N-Trek, we used it for all sorts of driving, including long motorway stints, city driving, and tasked it with some off-road challenges.
Pickup trucks of this sort can be quite uncomfortable during everyday driving if there isn’t any weight in the bed. However, we never had an issue with the Navara and found the ride to be surprisingly compliant. During our time with the truck we averaged 8.6 liters per 100 km (27.3 U.S. mpg), up from the 7 l/100 km (33.6 U.S. mpg) claimed by Nissan but still respectable.
As the N-Trek is mechanically identical to the lesser ST-X, it is equally-as-capable off the beaten path. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, very few owners will ever venture beyond a couple of gravel roads so the N-Trek and ST-X offer all you could need. On the other hand, Nissan could have fitted a set of all-terrain tires to the N-Trek to provide it with greater grip along off-road trails. Admittedly, this is where the N-Trek Warrior comes in, so it’s hard to blame Nissan for sticking exclusively to some styling alterations.
The cabin of the Navara is a nice place to sit and in N-Trek guise, offers the perfect mix or ruggedness with luxury. Two minor complaints we did have were the outdated-looking steering wheel and a lack of secure phone storage. Everything else is positive.
Taking pride of place is Nissan’s 8-inch Alliance In-Vehicle Infotainment system that comes complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as standard. The touchscreen is quick to respond and the interface is easy to understand and well organized. Bluetooth connectivity was reliable and the addition of a 360-degree camera system makes parking and positioning the vehicle easy, something that’s important for any pickup of this size. It’s also good to see Nissan sticking with a knob to adjust the volume, unlike the Toyota HiLux Rugged X we drove last year.
The rear seats offer ample leg and headroom and as with other Navara variants, there remains a small rear window that can be opened and closed by the driver.
As a means of making a statement, the Nissan Navara N-Trek is certainly a good way to do it. The exterior add-ons help it stand out on the road and the familiar mechanical underpinnings are tried and tested. It comes complete with a five-year warranty as standard and six-year capped-price servicing.
Is it style over substance? No. After all, the N-Trek may be focused on style but it remains just as capable and well-rounded as the ST-X and sits nicely in Nissan’s family just below the N-Trek Warrior.
Will the Warrior, complete with a host of styling and mechanical modifications, win us over? Stay tuned for our review coming soon to find out.