By Jonathan Crouch
Nissan's Navara moved the whole pick-up segment forwards. Developed from car-like rather than commercial underpinnings, it was, from its original launch in 2005, one of the first models of its kind that you really could, with a few compromises, use as single-vehicle transport. Early examples though, exhibited a few mechanical glitches and in the later years of the 21st century's first decade, competitors improved their products substantially. Hence the need in 2010 for the revised version we're looking at here, offered with pokier, more efficient engines, a potent V6 diesel option, a smarter look and an extra dose of hi-tech. If you want a used Navara, it's the version worth stretching to.
Double/King Cab pick-up [2.5, 3.0 diesel]
Pick-up trucks used to be utilitarian things. Or at least they were until the lifestyle set picked up on them as a fashionable outdoor activity transport. Or the prosperously blue-collar self-employed began using them all-purpose only-cars. Both groups essentially wanted a load carrying car rather than a commercial vehicle - and so the modern pick-up was born. The market's initial stab at this concept simply dressed up its existing products with bullbars, two-tone paintjobs and fancy cabins. Models like Nissan's 2001 first generation Navara, a tinselled-up version of their standard pick-up, were the result. Not good enough. Something essentially built to carry packages was never going to particularly appeal to people. So the company's Japanese engineers worked at it the other way around, starting with a clean sheet of paper and creating a pick-up from the basis of a car, rather than the other way around. The Spanish-built result reached these shores in 2005 when a design first created to be a lifestyle family 4x4 called a Nissan Pathfinder was reborn as the pick-up we now know as the second generation Nissan Navara. It was a great success, for years Europe's favourite pick-up, but a design that by 2010 was facing a whole host of much tougher rivals from every brand in this market. Hence the need for the revised model we're looking at here, a vehicle offering more performance, improved emissions and economy and optional state-of-the-art hi-tech equipment. It sold until the launch of the Navara NP300 model in late 2015.
What You Get
With styling based on that of Nissan's massive US-market Titan pick-up, the Navara is no shrinking violet in the styling stakes and the 2010 model year minor visual tweaks did little to change that. A revised front grille, a re-styled bumper and a sleeker bonnet accounted for a length increase of 80mm, taking the overall length of the Double Cab variant to nearly 5.3m. So you're really going to want the optional rear parking sensors. There was a revised bumper design at the rear too, with squared-off edges supposed to offer up a more stable, tougher appearance. That huge size means there's plenty of cabin space, even if you go for the halfway-house King Cab version with its backwards-opening doors and occasional rear seats. This is a bit of a compromise, so with good reason given that there's no two-door version, nearly all Navara buyers go for the Double Cab model. Its wide body and cabin length of over 1.5m means that there's plenty of room for five. And you can enjoy reasonable luxury thanks to things like individual climate controls for both front seat passengers. It's an interior that was smartened up in this post-2010 version with better quality switchgear, revised door trims, nicer seat fabric, revised instrument dials, various chrome highlights and the option of the Nissan Connect Premium Sat Nav/Infotainment system. The interior was more practical in this later version too, with an added storage box on the centre console and door pockets that can now happily hold an A3 map book as well as a one-litre drinks bottle. The rear door storage pockets meanwhile are big enough to hold a standard Nissan First Aid Kit. Other cubbies for clutter include twin gloveboxes in front of the passenger and specialist spaces for coins, cups and cards along with a neat sunglasses holder which folds down from a console in the roof. It also helps that the seats can be folded into various positions to further boost the capacity. On a mid-spec model, you can flip up the seat bases at the back for example to access a hidden storage compartment that would be useful to keep, say valuable tools away from prying eyes. You can also flat-fold the front passenger seat for longish items that won't fit in the pick-up section. How practical will this Navara prove to be in day-today use? Well the pokier engines of this post-2010 version mean it'll be able to cope with a slightly heftier payload than earlier versions could manage - anything from 1130kgs to 1250kgs, depending on the model you choose. But how bulky could your items be? Pull down the lockable tailgate with its big centrally-mounted handle and you'll find out. You can hold it in place horizontally if you need to carry extra-long loads that you don't want to lean against the ladder rack/cargo restraint frame mounted behind the cab. No chance of dropping it down completely though, because the large rear bumper with its incorporated step rather gets in the way. Once you do get stuff in, the loading deck is usefully long, either 1861mm in the King Cab model or 1511mm in the Double Cab variant. The width is 1560mm either way, narrowing to 1130mm between the wheelarches. And there's 457mm of loadspace height. We're not really sure why some original buyers wanted to compromise all of this space by fitting the optional streamlined hardtop X-Back pick-up cover; this limits you to just 1.8m3 of total space. A better option was the intelligently designed C-Channel load lashing system. This consists of five rails, one each side of the cargo floor, plus one on each of the three fixed sides of the load box. Self-locking cleats can be attached to these to provide fixed points for securing ropes.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
Some Navaras will have had a very hard life and others will have been treated no more harshly than a typical family estate car. The trick is in discerning which category you're dealing with. High mileages might suggest commercial usage, as would heavy damage to the load bay. Check underneath for the scrapes that speak of regular off-road use and expect a discount if they're in evidence. In general and for all the bling on some models, the Navara is a simple and robust vehicle. The engine and transmission in particular should stand up to the test of time and the cabin shouldn't show its age prematurely. It's worth seeking out the strange special edition versions because they usually came very well-equipped but you might have to put up with some lurid decals down the flank promoting an adventure clothing brand or a best forgotten action movie. Earlier models occasionally exhibited some injector problems. And the older 'D22' engine fitted to earlier models had a habit of destroying itself in some examples thanks to con rod bolts that weren't strong enough. All of these issues had been pretty much ironed out by the time it came to the facelifted 2010 to 2015 derivatives we're looking at here.
(approx based on a 2012 Navara 2.5) A clutch kit for the Navara retails at around £240 while front brake pads are around £55 a pair with rears retailing at around £45. A new radiator is around £250 with a starter motor also costing about the same and a fuel filter is around £18.
On the Road
The Navara sits high on its 17" wheels and chunky tyres, so you'll literally need to climb behind the wheel. Once you do and get moving, you'll find that in terms of car-like handling, this is state-of-the-art for the era as far as pick-ups are concerned. That doesn't mean your Navara will handle as well as a conventional family four-door but it does make it a world removed from previous generation pick-ups and not that far off the clunkier passenger 4x4s on the market. Nissan's engineers would doubtless like to have achieved an even higher standard but were ultimately limited by this car's basic drawbacks of construction - namely its ladder-framed body, rear leaf springs and rigid live rear axle. None of that is conducive to a magic carpet ride, intended as it is to support prodigious weight across the enormous rear load deck. So it can be a little stiff and bouncy at the back if you hustle through the corners too quickly but nothing too disconcerting. And of course, things calm down quite a bit if you've got a bit of weight in the back. You can in any case counter this to some extent by switching out of two-wheel drive into 4x4 High mode, possible to do on the fly by using a dash-mounted knob. Switch further into 4x4 Low range and you're at the wheel of something that feels pretty unstoppable. There's a 228mm ground clearance that faclitates a 450mm wading depth. And when things get gnarly, you'll appreciate the approach angle of up to 30-degrees, a departure angle of up to 24-degrees and a ramp-over angle of up to 22-degrees. You'll be able to climb a gradient of up to 39-degrees with a maximum lateral inclination of nearly 50-degrees. So it can cut the mustard on the mucky stuff. Yet this is also a vehicle that on major roads can be a surprisingly quiet and relaxed cruiser. Much of that is thanks to the well-suited 2.5-litre dCi diesel engine that almost all Navara owners choose, in this revised version 11% or 19PS more powerful at 190PS. That's quite an output for a pick-up, making this one of the very fastest pick-ups you can buy with sixty 11.1s away from rest in this Double Cab version on the way to a garden shed-aerodynamics-limited top speed of 112mph. More importantly, torque - pulling power - has also risen by a useful 47Nm to give a total of 450Nm, making possible a 3000kg towing capacity, usefully better than most rivals. If pulling power is everything though, this Nissan can in this revised form offer another option, this one virtually unique in this sector: V6 power. The engine in question is a throaty 3.0-litre V6 diesel which makes sixty in just 9.3s on the way to 121mph. More importantly, it stomps out so much torque - 550Nm from as little as 1,700rpm - that its power has to be channelled through a standard seven-speed automatic gearbox. This kind of capability facilitates a beefier towing limit of up to 3500kg. What you can't pull with one of these, in other words, you probably shouldn't be trying to pull anyway.
Nissan's Navara is one of the older contenders in the pick-up segment but remains one of the very best. Just as competitors started to edge closer to the class-leading power of its diesel engines, a package of mid-term Navara revisions in 2010 lifted this model further clear of its rivals. By this time, the Japanese brand had sorted out the earlier version's occasional mechanical glitches too. Which is why, whenever people ask us which model we'd have from this era in this market given the choice, this Navara remains one of our key starting points. It was Europe's best seller for a reason and a powerful argument for mixing business with pleasure. If you're buying a vehicle of this kind, you have to consider it: simple as that.