2018 Nissan Navara Launch Review

We road Test 2018 Nissan Navara

2018 Nissan Navara Ute Overview

Nissan has just launched the updated 2018 version of its Navara Ute range. First launched about three years ago, the Navara had a few issues that have been addressed in this update to bring it back to mixing it with the pack leaders once again.

While almost nothing has changed externally, there are extensive updates to the handling and steering of the 2018 Nissan Navara, as well as a range of technology and safety enhancements

The updates, initiated by Nissan Australia, and tested extensively in, and exclusively for, Australian conditions by a global group of Nissan Pickup experts, have been developed for Dual Cab SL, ST and ST-X variants in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

Nissan Navara

Nissan Navara Range

The Navara is available in three body styles, single cab, king cab and dual cab in either pickup or cab chassis configuration.

There is a choice between two engines, two drivetrains, 4×2 and 4×4 and two transmissions.

There are 27 Pickup and eight Cab Chassis options and 10 4X2 and 25 4X4 variants. To get a better understanding see the prices below.

Nissan Navara Exterior

There has been no changes to the external design in this update. The Navara maintains a look that is somewhere between the bold American pickup truck like design of the Ranger and the softer sleeker look of the Isuzu D-Max or Mazda BT-50.

The front grill has a sweeping design that incorporates the headlights and flows through the side bonnet bulges. These define the bonnet and also, surprisingly assist with wheel placement off road.

Nissan Navara

From the side and rear the Navara maintains a sense of subtle style, yet the jury is out on the rear tailgate lip.

Exterior features include DRL’s on all model variants, LED headlights on SL, ST, and ST-X. The ST-X grade also features LED door mirror turn indicators. The ST-X and King Cab ST also features LED door mirror turn indicators.

The SL, ST and ST-X have side steps and the ST  & ST-X grades feature front fog lamps with chrome accents, located in the front bumper. ST-X has folding exterior mirrors, polished silver roof rails and intelligent keys system.

The Single Cab has a choice of 15 or 16 inch steel wheels, the King Cab offers 16 inch steel or alloy wheels, plus an 18inch option for the ST-X, while Dual Cab comes with three 16 inch steel or alloy variants, and an 18 inch alloy. Regardless of the vehicle, the spare wheel is either a full size steel or alloy.

Nissan Navara Interior

The Navara is comfortable inside. Also as you drive it you notice how quiet it is as well.

Functionality of the dash is pretty good. Two large dials with a MFD between is a fairly standard design. These are clear and easy to read.

In select grades, the Advanced Drive Assist Display (ADAD) provides multiple screen options in the centre of the dashboard, between the tachometer and speedometer dials, meaning drivers can view information at a simple glance.

Nissan Navara

The overall feel of the interior is clean and uncluttered.

The front seats are great, even the cloth seats of the lower grades. Like a few other Utes the Navara comes with cloth trim across the entire Navara range.

All Dual Cab ST-X models, and the King Cab ST-X 7-speed automatic, come with a leather seat option – priced at $1,500 – that includes leather-accented heated seats, leather-accented door trim and an 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support. To my mind this is a must have.

There are soft touch points on the door trims, centre console lid and other convenient places. Having jumped out of another Ute to go to this launch, this subtle styling luxury was noticeable.

There is enough seat slide for taller drivers and while the steering wheel isn’t reach adjustable, it seems to protrude further forward than some other similar Utes, so taller drivers aren’t reaching for the wheel. That makes a difference to driving comfort.

The glove box is a reasonable size, door pockets will hold a bottle and little else, and the centre cup holders are great and the centre console is average. Nissan has copied the idea of cup/bottle holders on the dash, which is a clever feature.

Nissan Navara

Rear seats in the dual cab, are slightly more comfortable than most of its competitors and there appears to be a little more room back there.

While dual cab Utes are often bought for their family qualities, they really don’t cater to the comfort of rear passengers all that well. There is an electronic slide rear window and rear A/C vents for convenience as well.

Forward visibility is good, and over the shoulder is a little restricted. The ‘A’ pillars seem to come in, following the bonnet design, and the size and angle is obstructive in roundabouts etc. You can seriously lose a complete vehicle in them. Unfortunately many other vehicles are the same.

Nissan Navara Features/Technology

For the first time on a Navara, an Around View® Monitor has been fitted within the 7-inch infotainment system on top-of-the-range ST-X Dual Cab and King Cab grades.

Four mounted cameras help drivers notice people and cars surrounding and approaching the vehicle, improving safety. It also makes parking easier, recognising cars and marked lines so that drivers can position the vehicle in its bay.

Nissan Navara

Supporting this technology is the Rear View Camera, which is now offered as standard equipment unfortunately only on the pickup variants.

This is a failing of the ANCAP system as I believe what gets measured gets done. A rear view camera should be mandatory across the range for all vehicles to obtain a 5 Star safety rating.

The Rear View Camera is fitted within the infotainment screen on SL, ST and ST-X Pickup grades, and within the rear view mirror on RX pickup variants.

Helping Ute owners keep a more accurate eye on their speed, from June production all Navara SL, ST and ST-X models will feature a digital speedometer housed within the instrument cluster.

Satellite navigation has been fitted as standard equipment on the King Cab ST grade, aligning with its Dual Cab sibling.

Other features include: dual zone climate A/C, Automatic on/off headlights, heated front seats, second row seatbelt alert and two pairs of ISOFix child restraint anchorage points on Dual Cab models

Nissan Navara

Nissan Navara Engine and drivetrain

There are two engine types, the most popular being the 2.3 litre inter-cooled twin-turbo diesel with 140kW of power at 3,750rpm and 450Nm of torque at 1,500-2,500rpm.

The second engine is a  2.3 litre intercooled single turbo four-cylinder diesel engine available that produces 120kW of power at 3,750rpm and 403 NM or torque at 1,500 to 2,500rpm

Nissan Navara

Variants are mated with a choice of a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic transmission, the latter of which has a manual mode. Both engines have pretty good fuel economy figures

These are mated to either a 2WD or 4WD system. 4X2 or 2WD versions drive the rear wheels.

The 4WD versions benefit from advanced shift on the fly technology, between 2H and 4H with the traditional stopping and neutral change for 4L. The desired mode is electronically controlled via an easy-to-reach dial on the dash.

The driver can switch from 2WD to 4H while the vehicle is moving at speeds of up to 100km/h. It is recommended that the driver doesn’t exceed speeds of 100km/h when 4H is engaged as this can cause damage to the transfer case.

Nissan Navara

4H is great if you are trying to get optimal traction on slippery surfaces, rough terrain, or are using 4X4 for precautionary measures.

4L (4WD LOW RANGE) 4L generates much more torque than 4H, and is used during more extreme off road situations. During low speed operation, the low range gear provides additional control.

Throttle sensitivity is reduced to allow better control in severe conditions, extremely slippery situations, during steep climbs or through thick mud or water.

Other handy drivetrain features include an electronic locking rear differential, for those more difficult situations and on the ST-X, Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control

Nissan Navara – What is it Like to drive

We had the opportunity to drive both engine options but only the 7 speed AT on the launch. We did however, manage to tow a range of trailers, including a typical hard floor camper trailer, dingo digger and a mixer with sand and gravel.

Nissan Navara

We also drove the Pickup version with 650kg on board and the top of the line ST-X coil sprung Ute with no rear weight. We drove these over freeway, back roads, forest trails and dirt roads.

So there was a fair degree of variation and sampling from which to form an opinion of the revised suspension set up.

If you want to go into detail about the revised suspension set up you should check out the Nissan website

Enhancements have been made to the 2018 Nissan Navara (Dual Cab SL, ST & ST-X) suspension with the change of the rear springs. The rear suspension now features a Dual-rate spring, this means the lower spring rate, in the first stage, provides a comfortable and enjoyable ride when the vehicle is unloaded.

A much higher spring rate, in the second stage, allows heavier loads to be carried without compromising posture, ride or towing handling quality. These new springs have been locally tuned and tested for the Australian market and assist in maintaining a high riding posture in loaded conditions and improved handling when towing.

The verdict is that they have finally got it right. On all surfaces, across all loads, the suspension was compliant with no bottoming out that we felt, and handled the loads and towing responsibilities with composure. In fact the range topping ST-X will now challenge the leading Utes as the best on road riding Ute.

The re-rated steering feels well weighted, linear, with good feedback and direct response. I didn’t like the steering wheel itself, it was a little too thin and plastic for me, but others liked it.

One noticeable feature was how quiet the Navara was, it appeared well insulated from both excessive road noise and wind noise. The engine was also muted, at times you had to wonder of it was a petrol or diesel engine.

The engine itself is willing and frugal. For me there is only one choice and that is the twin turbo 140kW version. For most of the test it cruised comfortably and unstressed. Occassionaly, while towing and under load, it definitely had to work harder, but this may be as much to do with the transmission as the engine.

At times it appears that the matching between engine and gear selection is slightly off. Very minor but it left you feeling that there is a touch more left on the table. This is something that would disappear with more time in the driver’s seat and it adapts to your style.

Nissan Navara

Nissan Navara Dimensions

The ST-X dual cab Navara has an

  • overall length of 5255mm,
  • wheelbase of 3150mm,
  • width of 1850mm and
  • Height of 1855mm.
  • Unladen ground clearance is 228mm.
  • Approach angle is 33.2 degrees, rampover is 24.7 and departure angle is 28.2 degrees.
  • Wading depth is TBC
  • Turning circle is 12.4m
  • GVM of 2910kg, GCM of 5910,
  • Kerb mass of 1979kg and Payload of 931kg.
  • Towing capacity is 3500kg and tow ball rating is up to 300kg depending on reduction in GVM.

Nissan Navara Safety

The Navara comes with a 5 Star ANCAP Safety rating for the existing model and the update includes a range of new safety and smart technologies.

The Nissan Navara range features:

  • Seven airbags, including two front, two side seat, two side curtain and a driver knee airbag,
  • Three-point Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) belts on all seats,
  • Driver and front passenger seatbelts with load limiters and pre-tensioners,
  • Height adjustment and seatbelt warnings,
  • Second row seatbelt alert and two pairs of ISOFix child restraint anchorage points on Dual Cab models.

Other features include:

  • Automatic on/off headlights,
  • Hazard warning lights and an LED high-mounted stop light.
  • Daytime running lights are standard, with LED signature daytime running lights on select grades.

Featuring a collapsible steering column and an energy absorbing bonnet, the latter of which is designed to minimise pedestrian injury, the Navara also has door side intrusion bars, child safety locks on the rear doors and a ‘door ajar’ warning light on all doors.

One negative is that the reversing camera is only available as standard on all Pickup grades, either positioned within the 5-inch or 7-inch infotainment system or within the rearview mirror. Reversing sensors are also standard on ST-X.

More technologically focused safety features include:

  • Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with
  • Brake Limited Slip Differential (BLSD) improves dynamic performance and safety,
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS),
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD),
  • Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS)
  • Traction Control System (TCS) and
  • Brake Assist (BA) also appear on all grades.

Nissan Navara Conclusion

Nissan Navara has always been an excellent Ute. Nissan allowed the competition to get ahead of them in recent times and in an extremely competitive segment, that can be market suicide. Fortunately it wasn’t and the Navara is now back to its best and can once again challenge the segment frontrunners.

Our next 4WD Ute comparison video should be a ripper with the Navara now reintroduced to the fold.

Nissan Navara

Nissan Navara 2018 MY Pricing

While pricing generally remains unchanged, eight of the variants have seen prices increase between $200 and $500 reflecting the addition of equipment that is now standard. Pricing# for Single Cab variants start at $25,990, King Cabs from $28,490 and the Dual Cab from $33,490.

For an additional $1,500 Nissan offers a Leather Accented Seat Option³ on King Cab ST-X 7AT and all Dual Cab ST-X grades. A tilt and slide electric sunroof package is also available for $1,000 on the Dual Cab ST-X 4X4.

Available in eight contemporary exterior colours, the 2018 Nissan Navara is on sale now.

2018 Nissan Navara MSRP#

 Single Cab

DX 4×4                6MT      Cab Chassis                      $31,990

RX 4×2                 6MT      Cab Chassis                      $25,990

RX 4×4                 6MT      Cab Chassis                      $32,990

RX 4×4                 7AT       Cab Chassis                      $35,490

King Cab

RX 4×2                 6MT      Cab Chassis                      $28,490

RX 4×4                 6MT      Cab Chassis                      $35,490

RX 4×4                 6MT      Pickup                               $37,290    (+$300)

ST 4×4                 6MT      Pickup                               $43,990

ST 4×4                 7AT       Pickup                               $46,490

ST-X 4×4              6MT      Pickup                               $49,990

ST-X 4×4              7AT       Pickup                               $52,490*

* Leather accented seats + driver’s power + front heated (Option on ST-X 4×4 7AT)    $1,500

Dual Cab

RX 4×2                 6MT      Pickup                               $33,490    (+$500)

RX 4×2                 7AT       Pickup                               $35,990    (+$500)

ST 4×2                 6MT      Pickup                               $40,190    (+$200)

ST 4×2                 7AT       Pickup                               $42,690    (+$200)

ST-X 4×2              6MT      Pickup                               $44,990*

ST-X 4×2              7AT       Pickup                               $47,490*

* Leather accented seats + driver’s power + front heated (Option on ST-X 4×2 6MT/7AT)    $1,500


RX 4×4                 6MT      Cab Chassis                      $38,490

RX 4×4                 7AT       Cab Chassis                      $40,990

RX 4×4                 7AT       Pickup                               $42,990     (+$500)

SL 4×4                  6MT      Pickup                               $43,990

SL 4×4                  7AT       Pickup                               $46,490

ST 4×4                 6MT      Pickup                               $47,190    (+$200)

ST 4×4                 7AT       Pickup                               $49,690    (+$200)

ST-X 4×4              6MT      Pickup                               $51,990*

ST-X 4×4              7AT       Pickup                               $54,490*

* Leather seats + driver’s power + front heated (Option on ST-X 4×4 6MT/7AT)    $1,500

* Sunroof (Option on ST-X 4×4 6MT/7AT)    $1,000


# Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) are provided for media purposes only and do not include premium paint, statutory charges or other on-road costs.

About Rob Fraser 314 Articles
Rob first learned to drive on the farm in a left hand drive WW11 Jeep when he was 11, many years ago. He has maintained a strong interest in the industry ever since and was hooked on 4WDriving way back then.Often known for taking the 4WD in the driveway over the sports car, he has travelled pretty much everywhere in Australia and when he is bored goes for a drive.