In-depth reviews

Nissan Navara pickup

"The Nissan Navara is a full-on pickup truck with the practicality to match, but it also drives well, making it one of the class leaders"

Carbuyer Rating

3.8 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.1 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Interior nicer than most rivals
  • Comfortable
  • Drives well

Cons

  • Tricky manual gearbox
  • Underwhelming performance
  • Unsophisticated King Cab suspension

Pickup trucks may not be as popular in the UK as they are in North America, but they're still important: models like the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200 and Volkswagen Amarok sell in big numbers. The Navara is Nissan's load-lugger, and the product of 80 years of experience in the market.

You can pick from two body styles – the King Cab has two small rear-hinged back doors that allow access to two small rear seats, but the Double Cab is a far more practical family transport proposition. It has four full-size doors and a rear bench seat with space for three, and is far roomier, too. It's hardly surprising that the Double Cab is by far the more popular of the two.

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Every version of the Navara now comes with a more sophisticated suspension system, replacing the old leaf-springs fitted on many pickups. It's more comfortable and SUV-like to travel in as a result, as well as feeling nimbler in corners.

The upgrades don't quite go far enough to disguise its rather functional interior, though. It may boast a long list of standard equipment, but it's presented in a far less aesthetically pleasing way than in an SUV like the Nissan X-Trail. You’ll need a Volkswagen Amarok or Toyota Hilux for a more upmarket pickup experience.

As is fairly typical of pickups, the materials are hard-wearing and businesslike instead of being tactile and attractive. The feeling is improved by some switchgear and controls that are shared with the X-Trail and Qashqai, though, and everything is easy to operate.

The King Cab is rather a marginal part of the range and is only available in entry-level Visia and Acenta trims as its designed predominantly for commercial rather than private use. You can choose those on the Double Cab, too, opt for the better-equipped, N-Connecta or Tekna trim levels, which are familiar from other Nissan models, or go for the more aggressively styled N-Guard trim level. The higher specs have extra design touches inside, but we're unsure how well the piano-black trim will last if exposed to the kind of hard use a pickup is often put to.

All Navaras in Visia and Acenta trim use a 158bhp 2.3-litre diesel engine, while Double Cab models from N-Connecta trims upwards use a 187bhp version of the same engine. An automatic gearbox is available with the more powerful engine and all comply with the latest Euro 6 exhaust emissions regulations.

The 187bhp engine is by far the more enjoyable to use and doesn't cost a lot more to run than the less powerful version. Every version of the Navara is now four-wheel drive, and this gives it impressive towing capability – it'll haul a 3,500kg braked trailer. Four-wheel drive is handy if you need to drag a boat trailer up a greasy slipway, or extract a caravan from a wet campsite, as well as providing extra traction on poor road surfaces. The four-wheel-drive Navara can cope with a bit of moderate off-roading, too.

The Navara lacks some of the comfort and family-friendly aspects of a large SUV, but is a capable and hardy single-vehicle solution for working weekdays and leisure-packed weekends. The Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok are a little more polished, and the Mitsubishi L200 a bit more rugged, but the Navara is an honest all-rounder. The N-Connecta Double Cab is our favourite model for its blend of power, standard equipment and value.

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