|  First Published: July 2011

With its European build and rugged good looks, the Nissan D40 Navara was well received virtually from day one of release. In fact it’s arguably Nissan’s best selling model thanks to a combination of practicality, great on road manners and a generous cargo bay in the rear, which is considerably larger than some rivals.

As the result of ongoing refinement dual cab utes like the Navara have become great all rounders in Australia thanks to their usefulness on the job site, capacity to tow a caravan or boat on weekends, plus their easy adaptability to home duties.

So what makes the Navara D40 leave the show rooms so readily? Quality performances from either the 4.0L V6 petrol engine or the 2.5L turbo diesel are strong points but there’s no doubt that the Navara’s interior roominess and comfortable ride adds to its popularity.

With it’s ladder frame chassis, coil spring/independent front suspension and a somewhat gentle leaf spring arrangement at the rear, the Navara will charm with it’s easy, car like, ride yet can carry an 800kg payload or tow 3000 kg of braked trailer.

ST-X 2.5L Diesel

The Navara ST-X dual cab diesel was very well equipped indeed. Starting from the driver’s seat, there’s a leather bound wheel with cruise control and radio controls at the finger tips. Virtually everything has an electric operation and an in-dash 6 stacker CD player complimented the good quality radio.

Interior storage is well set up with two glove boxes ahead of the front passenger, a centre console storage box, another atop the dash plus card and cup holders centrally as well.

Both driver and passenger seats are wide and comfortable and rear seat room is adequate (but no longer class leading; honours go to the Triton there) for three adults. Note that the rear seat splits 60/40 for extra storage when required.

Safety wise the Navara is up their with the best. The dual front air bags and ABS (with Electronic Brake Force Distribution plus Brake assist) are the standard safety features of this impressive utility.

The convenience of remote central locking is very handy when approaching the car with an arm full of groceries. Alloy wheels and side steps complete the exterior eye candy.

The Navara makes a great work ute with its very useful Utili Trac cargo containment system, where a slide and ratchet arrangement in the side walls allows cargo to be strapped into place for transportation.

On the Road

Powered by the 2.5L four cylinder common rail turbo diesel, the ST-X Navara ute was more a pleasure to drive thanks to sharp steering and easy ride and handling. The Navara’s smooth contributes to that car like ambience yet the full four wheel drive system on demand, via a rotary in-dash dial, will see the vehicle performing well off road as well.

The popular diesel version certainly did not lack power thanks to the engine’s 128kW of power and 385Nm of torque linked to a five speed auto gear box.

The 2.5L turbo diesel engine is, perhaps, not the quietest diesel in the dual cab market, but once warmed up and running with traffic it was hardly noticeable. On that topic I found the Navara moved off smartly at traffic lights, and any highway speed easily attained.

Fuel consumption was quite good. On a mix of city and country driving I recorded 10.4L/100km, which is much in line with advertised figures.

Off the Road

On winding country back roads the Navara’s supple and very compliant ride made easy going of corrugations and pot holes, with little effect on passenger comfort. Note that there was a reasonable load within the rear compartment; allowing the rear leaf spring suspension to work without tendency to rebound.

Although the Navara’s 800kg pay load is less than many rivals, it comes via that more supple rear suspension with an enhanced ride, which is a fair trade off.

Owners wanting to take their D40’s off road will find that four wheel drive and low range are easily engaged via the dash switch and with the engine’s willingness and flexibility the car is a good all round performer. Beach work should be an easy matter thanks to the Navara’s wide foot print and power.

Be advised that serious cross country work might require some careful thought to wheel placement due to the somewhat low stance of he vehicle. While wheel travel is not likely to be the issue, the wide side steps and the amount of front and rear overhang might need consideration if damage is to be avoided.

In many ways it comes down owner’s preference; a lot of Navara owners will not see their cars straying far from even a gravel road and will be more interested in the towing and cargo capacity of their vehicles.

In summing up the Nissan Navara ST-X 2.5L diesel, I see it as a very competent dual cab ute, with work horse or city hack duties it’s forte, but very good for recreational activities outside those times.

List price for the vehicle is shown as $53,240.

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