The top five best-selling vehicle list in the country is dominated by utes and despite what some may believe, plenty of them are sold to private or small business buyers, especially the higher spec and tough-looking ones like the new Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior.
Nissan may be a little late to the party with releasing its own uber-ute to compete against the Ford Ranger Raptor, Toyota HiLux Rugged X, the HSV Colorado SportsCat, but it’s better late than never, right?
What exactly is the Navara ‘N-Trek’ Warrior? It’s a super ute based on the standard Navara N-Trek that has been locally engineered and to an extent had its final assembly done by the folks at Premcar in Epping, Victoria. If you have been around the performance car scene long enough you may remember that name for it was a big part of what was once Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV).
Nissan Australia’s decision to have the car locally engineered is not only a huge deal for the Australian car industry and the thousands of super-qualified engineers and builders, but also for buyers who appreciate a vehicle genuinely made for local conditions, rather than just having it said as part of marketing fluff.
The Navara Warrior is Nissan’s answer to the Australian market’s ever-insatiable taste for even tougher utes. It’s a way for the Japanese company to capture some aftermarket accessory dollars straight from the showroom floor and add some additional credibility to the Navara range.
Nissan should have really just called this the ‘Navara Warrior’, the N-Trek middle name takes away from the toughness of the ute and means nothing to anyone outside of Nissan’s marketing department.
Our test car is the automatic version of the Navara N-Trek Warrior, priced from $65,990 before on-road costs, but you can have it for $63,490 plus on-roads with a manual transmission. No options needed.
At the time of writing, Nissan Australia is offering a sharp finance deal for MY19-plate examples, with a 1.0 per cent comparison rate over a 36-month term.
The Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior is based on the standard N-Trek, previously the highest specification in the Navara range.
That model comes with a whole lot of black highlights including the sports bar, front grille, mirror caps, rear bumper and side steps. The regular N-Trek also gets partial leather seat trim.
Warrior at heart
It looks the business and gets things done when taken to task
Step up into the Warrior, sorry, N-Trek Warrior, and for the extra circa-$11,500 you will get
- 32.2-inch all-terrain tyres and locally-tuned suspension for a 40mm vehicle lift
- Body-coloured hoopless steel bullbar with 470mm integrated LED light bar
- Unique tow bar cross member and tongue with full-size spare tyre
- Blacked out ‘N-TREK Warrior’ exterior styling with orange accenting and decal kit
- 3mm stainless 304 steel front underbody protection plate
Most importantly though, you get a ute that just looks mega tough. But you know what? Put it up next to an American ‘mini-truck’, like the RAM 1500 pictured below and it will give you an idea of what it looks like in the flesh.
The maximum five-star safety rating for the Nissan Navara comes from 2015 and does not take into account the current safety requirements to achieve the same score if the vehicle was tested today.
Nonetheless, the Navara gained complimentary remarks from ANCAP, with the crash-testing firm noting the passenger compartment “held its shape well in the frontal offset test”.
Furthermore, the pedal and steering wheel displacements were “well-controlled” while the driver and passenger contact with the airbags was noted as stable, which was no doubt helped by the fact that all doors remained closed during the crash. ANCAP says after the crash: “all doors could be opened with normal effort”.
Given the underlying engineering of the vehicle led to strong safety results, it’s safe to say buyers will be well-protected in the event of an accident.
However, the Navara lacks numerous modern active safety features such as autonomous emergency braking, which is increasingly becoming standard on rival utes. Strangely AEB is available for Navara models built in Europe, but the Thai factory that supplies Australia is unable to fit the proven life-saving feature.
In that regard, the Nissan Navara falls short of market leaders Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, both of which come with a suite of active safety features across the range.
The Navara Warrior is rather similar to the standard Navara N-Trek on the inside. It’s a solid interior which doesn’t really feel all that modern but also doesn’t fall too far short of its competitors.
The leather-accented seats with orange highlights really set it apart when you jump in. The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the new infotainment system is welcome, which now looks rather crisp thanks to the high-resolution display.
We were a little disappointed by the surround camera system, however, which in typical Nissan fashion looks like YouTube circa-2005 on dial-up. Nonetheless, the Warrior does offer a birds-eye view camera to gives a 360-degree view to make parking the big rig that little bit easier.
We found the front and rear seats to be relatively comfortable with a heap of room for four large adults. We drove the car out from Brisbane all the way to Killarney on a roughly 450km round trip with the two kids in the back and there was never a complaint.
Rear USB ports would be nice for a car in this price range to really give it that car-like feel, but other than that it was hard to complain about the interior’s practicality for its intended application.
Nissan’s trusted 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel sits at the heart of the Navara Warrior. With 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque, the Warrior gains no additional power or performance over its lesser siblings. The Warrior can be had with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic, both with selectable four-wheel drive.
Nissan says it will sip 7.0L of diesel for every 100km you drive (6.5L/100km if you go for a manual), but realistically it will achieve 8.0-8.5L/100km in everyday driving – at least that’s what we got during our week of highway and city driving, plus a bit of off-roading.
The Warrior is a surprisingly composed car. Having previously driven the standard Navara N-Trek, we found it a little annoying over bumps and if the tray was empty, the car never really felt settled. The Warrior – despite its off-road nature – is more compliant for on-road use than it would appear.
There’s a lot to be said here about Australian engineering and what it means to modify a car in Australia, for Australian conditions. It probably doesn’t hurt to have Cooper Discoverer AT3 tyres either, which have a tread depth of 12.7mm (5mm more than you will find on the standard N-Trek).
The automatic gearbox is smooth and is quick to drops down gears when required. We found the power and torque more than adequate for the highway.
It was also pretty purposeful around the suburbs and, while it lacks the power and torque of some competitors, it never feels like its lacking much in terms of go.
The ground clearance is up 40mm to 268mm, with the weight now 2186kg. Nissan claims a 3500kg maximum towing capacity with a 724kg payload for the automatic (730kg manual).
As an off-roader, the Warrior did our basic requirements without breaking a sweat, never feeling out of place. Nonetheless, the suspension lift is less than half of what Ford offers with the Ranger Raptor so it’s not quite in the same league, at least straight off the showroom floor.
That said, as any genuine off-roader would know, it won’t take many modifications from the aftermarket to get the Navara Warrior even more capable than it already is for serious bush bashing.
Perhaps the only thing worth noting is that whilst the approach angle has gone from 33.2 to 35 degrees, the departure angle suffers from the tow bar and its lower rear ride height, now 19 degrees compared to 28.2 for other Navara models. We will be doing a specific off-road review of the Navara Warrior soon.
Nissan offers a five-year unlimited-kilometre warranty, with 12 month or 20,000km service intervals.
Over a five-year period and not including consumables like tyres, brake pads etc, the servicing cost of a Nissan Navara Warrior is $3035 (add $31 for a manual).
That’s much more expensive than the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor – which offers scheduled maintenance at $250 a pop for the first four visits and $365 for the fifth totalling $1425 over five years, though it has slightly shorter intervals at 12 months/15,000km.
It’s hard not to love the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior. It’s a tough-looking ute that looks as much at home in suburbia as it does at the work site or out on an unpaved country road.
It’s not as hardcore as the Ford Ranger Raptor, but it also doesn’t cost as much. It’s the best riding of the 4×4 dual-cab Navaras and is a showcase in local engineering and assembly.
The Navara Warrior proves cars that are engineered for Australia, in Australia, tend to be head and shoulders above the generic imported models we are used to.
Overall, the Navara Warrior is a solid offering that for about the mid-$60,000 bracket on the road, is certainly worth considering if you’re after a rugged lifestyle ute.