Great weekends with the 4x4 Navara
  |  First Published: December 2004

It’s a tried and proven concept: take a ute that can pay for its keep as a workhorse, and then refine it for use as an RV on the weekend. That, of course, was the original Nissan Navara concept which has now progressed so far down the track that the Navara, particularly in STR mode, presents as a well dressed up and very refined vehicle that can perform duty as a workhorse or country carriage with ease.

There are, of course, several vehicles in the Navara line-up. While the STR is the top-of-the-shelf, the rugged DX and dual cab 4x2 and 4x4 utilities are also well suited to fulfilling roles as either work or recreational vehicles. Engines range from the 3-litre turbo diesel (as tested), a 3.3-litre V6 petrol pumping out 125k for either the STR or DX 4x4s, and a 2.4-litre 110kW petrol unit in the 4x2 utilities.

The test Navara sported new looks, and the facelift really shows. Bold frontal styling is eye catching while the ample ground clearance hints at the Navara’s off road capabilities as well. The test Navara STR, in dark blue over silver, was powered by Nissan’s 3-litre 110kW diesel engine mated to a five-speed gearbox. The Navara was an impressive bit of machinery, with colour coded bumpers that matched the sleek silver colour of the lower body area, chromed rear bumper and front grille, a soft tonneau cover on the rear cargo area, alloy side steps and alloy wheels.

A walk around the Nissan revealed attention to detail in the fitting of all external panels, a slick paint job and some classy decals declaring the Navara as a dedicated four-by-four off-road vehicle. And there can be no arguing with the Navara’s off-road credentials: that second lever on the transmission hump is connected to a set of low range gears that give the driver a lot of options whether on the farm, building site, up the beach or well out in the bush.


On the road, the diesel powered Navara was a potent machine. The 3-litre turbo diesel, which has a 2800kg towing capacity, seemed to have endless power and was able to hold its own in the cut and thrust of city traffic. I noted, on the way to the Gold Coast, that it was also extremely efficient in the 90-110km/h range when overtaking was required.

The engine, incidentally, is identical to that in the 3-litre Nissan Patrol but without the benefit of intercooling. It was agreeably quiet at idle, with just a little diesel chatter about it until underway, and yet it was virtually unheard at highway speeds. The Navara is, in fact, a very quiet vehicle on the highway with just a little tyre noise intruding.

With such an agreeable ride on most road surfaces, and with such ultra smooth exterior lines, it’s easy to forget that these are still serious work vehicles with a near 1500kg carrying capacity. This means that you can virtually take all the camping gear, all the fishing gear and even the kitchen sink on that trip up to Fraser!

The suspension set-up reflects this strong carrying capacity, with a double wishbone with stabilizer bar up front complimented by strong leaf springs in the rear. The result is that on smooth roads such as the M1 the Navara will provide a car-like ride, but on rough or undulating surfaces the rear leaf springs, if the vehicle is totally unladen, will provide a firmer ride. The modern Navara’s ride is much more refined than that of earlier models, that’s for sure.


Inside the cabin of the STR Navara, the driver and passengers are equally pampered. The deeply padded seats feature sports-style trim with contrasting yet very tasteful inserts, and front buckets are particularly supportive, especially on long runs. The driver will find the seating position good, the visibility is great for extended and easy cruising and the halogen headlights make night driving very easy.

Creature comforts include central locking, power windows, power steering, excellent air-conditioning, CD player/radio, sports trim on upholstery and a carpeted floor. These are the official listed items, but what isn’t listed is the ideal amount of head room, rear seat room and general space you’ll find inside the Navara. It really is a very comfortable five seater.

I saw this vehicle as well and truly capable of extended trips off-road or up the beach, which makes it very useful to anglers like you and I. There is a limited slip differential as standard and the ground clearance, at around 210mm, is excellent – as are good approach and departure angles. And the load carrying capacity is useful, with the rear cargo area measuring some 1395mm long, 1390mm wide and 435mm high.

Fuel economy is there as well, with the frugal yet powerful diesel engine turning in figures of around 11 to 12 litres per 100km travelled. Fuel tank capacity is 75 litres which allows for comfortable extended touring with ease.

The Nissan Navara comes with a three-year/100,000km warranty and three-year 24-hours roadside assistance. Prices on the 4x4 Navara range start from around $33,340 for the DX 3.0-litre turbo-diesel single cab, $36,340 for the DX 3.3-litre petrol, $38,840 for the DX 3.0-litre diesel, $40,990 for the ST-R 3.3-litre petrol and $43,490 for the ST-R 3.0-litre turbo-diesel. All prices quoted are approximate recommended retail pricing and do not include dealer delivery and on-road costs.


1 The new Nissan Navara is a workhorse that can easily double as a great weekend recreational vehicle. Note the ample ground clearance.

2 The finish on the Navara is top shelf. Note the features in the rear cargo area, including rear step, tonneau cover, chromed carry bars and wheel arches.

3 Bold frontal styling is a Navara feature; the colour-coded bumper bar and prominent grille are outstanding. Those good sized halogen headlights make night driving easy.

4 The interior is roomy and stylish.

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