2018 Nissan Navara Black Edition Road Test, Review
Nissan’s first ute came out in 1935 and was a tiny 3.3m long with a puny 11kw 760cc engine. It carried a mere 500kg. it carried just two people, and had a 0-100 time of 3 calendar pages.
Let that sink in as you read on.
The range has 2 or 4-wheel drive, and 3 body styles. A cab chassis that can have an aluminium tray fitted, a king cab, and a full 5-seater dual cab. There is a choice of manual available and automatic transmissions too, depending on the model you want. There are 35 variations in all.
The most popular variant is the dual-cab 4X4 Automatic ST. Every now and then, Nissan bungs on a few extra bits and calls it a “special edition”. The Black Edition is one such model, which is based on the ST 4X4 dual cab. In other words, extra stuff at no cost.
The ST is already fairly well equipped, but the Black Edition gets a nice set of 18” wheels, a black nudge bar, and a light bar mounted centre front. A black sports bar fitted behind the cabin adds a touch of mean-ness.
There are decals too, also in black, which match the mud guards and grille. In fact, all of the editions are black regardless of the body colour you choose.
The additions amount to 10 grands’ worth for no extra shekels.
They make a big difference to the look of what is already a large impressive vehicle. The changes are mainly decorative, but they look the business.
The rest is pure ST and includes side steps, body coloured front bumper, LED headlights, and useful things like a towing pack at the front.
Dual cab pick-ups have doors front and back. Rear passengers can get in and out as easily as if they were in mum’s taxi.
The tray has tie-downs inside it, as well as lights, and a handy 12volt power outlet. There is no liner as standard but is well worth putting in.
Remember, LCVs were designed for big manly tradies.
The fact that all sorts of people buy these vehicles now is down to a versatile drive, ever more efficient engines, and modern convenience touches like power windows, and air conditioning. LCVs are being used more and more by drivers who once only thought of SUVs.
The cabin doesn’t feel luxurious as such, but it does feel very comfortable, if just a little old fashioned. Instruments are easy to read, and controls easy to use. Importantly, everything is where you expect it to be.
The dash is full of hard surfaces. Normally that seems a bit low-rent. However, they will wear well in a commercial environment and are easily cleaned should they get muddy. Navara will no doubt find itself on a building site or towing a camper van.
What sits in front of the driver comes straight from Nissan Passenger vehicles, not that there are many of those left. Like fellow Japanese auto-maker, Mitsubishi, Nissan has transitioned into an SUV/LCV retailer.
Dials sit either side of an LCD display.
The steering wheel has auxiliary controls for infotainment and communications. There is cruise control too. Buttons are laid out like any other Nissan so if your other car is a Pathfinder, you’re set.
The centre stack has a distinctly utilitarian look to it. A touch screen has fixed buttons either side and tuning pre-set radio stations is easy. You can flick between functions, select your favourite stations, then store them by holding the pre-set position. It should be this easy on all systems, but isn’t.
There is DAB but no Apple CarPlay. You can stream music via Bluetooth and USB though, so all is not lost.
Air conditioning is a do-it-yourself affair. You choose the temperature and fan speed with dials. Although there is only an intermittent wiper function, at least there are dusk-sensing headlights.
I use a dash-cam, and was impressed with a power outlet right on top of the dash in a shallow tray.
Cloth upholstery made seating comfortable but would need covering if tradies were going to be doing their thing.
There are blank switches in front of cup holders on the centre console. They sit just in front of a decent sized armrest, under which is a smallish bin. Another bin can be found behind the gear lever. It has a USB and “aux” socket for phones and devices.
The 4X4 control dial is nearby. This is proper four wheel drive too, none of that AWD nonsense.
The rear seats are not exactly capacious, but shortish trip around town are fine. There are nifty hidy-holes where tradies can hide their more expensive kit.
There are features we expect like:4X4 (four wheel drive), 4 cup and 4 bottler holders, 3 X 12V power outlets, an overhead sunglasses holder, floor mats, driver’s LCD screen, and external temperature display. There is a neat phone holder that fits into the cupholder cavity.
One thing I love is the power operated window between the cabin and the rear tray. That would be very handy should you decide to put one of those fiberglass canopies on.
The rear-view mirror has a non-dazzle function, which works well. In fact, much of what is in the Navara you might also find in a family hatch. The reversing camera displays in the centre LCD and makes parking a less stressful event.
There are few driver-aids other than the reversing camera and parking sensors.
You can go low-tech in the base models and opt for vinyl floors for serious builders who slosh about on muddy sites.
There is no tray liner standard except in the top model. It would be a good investment if you value your trust steed.
Drive and Engine
There are 2 transmissions, 2 engines, and either 2 or 4 wheel drive, depending on the model you choose.
Our Black Edition had the optional 7 speed automatic in lieu of a standard 6 speed manual.
Although our test car had the more powerful 140 twin-turbo diesel with 450Nm, it was no power house. It is quiet at cruise, but a trifle rambunctious if pressed. The 6 speed transmission shifts smoothly and finds the right gear most of the time. It wants to hold high gears though, even if pressed.
Fuel economy was excellent for a vehicle of this size.
The drive is a leisurely affair. Like all LCVs, Navara has a long (3155mm) wheelbase that needs extra attention in tight spaces. At 5255mm long, it will take almost all of the parking spot. More than once I overestimated the available space and, rather embarrassingly, had to look elsewhere.
Ride is decent on the multi-link rear suspension.
Nissan has given a spot of local tuning to get it right. You waft along with bumps hardly noticeable. Highway cruising is fairly quiet, but there is only slightly more noise around town. If you sink the boot in, the twin turbo diesel spools up reasonably quickly.
Road tyres are the quietest, but off-road tyres are worth putting up with if venturing too far off the tarmac is your thing. They have a monotonous hum which seems inconsequential once you hit the mud.
Although some models have leaf springs, the Black Edition has a Multi-link rear end. It is more sophisticated than
If you think leaf suspension that seems a bit last century, drum brakes on all models feels absolutely antiquated. Strangely, this isn’t uncommon in the segment. In fact, Hilux has rear drums, leaf springs, and a live rear axel across the range. The more weight in the tray, the better the ride. Your performance suffers somewhat, but it is more than adequate for your daily use.
It has 226mm of ground clearance which, along with low range and a 4X4 drive system, gives Navara pucker off road credentials. The rear end is light without a load on, so the electronics get a work out as it scrambles for grip.
We took Navara on a couple of sedate dirt tracks in 2WD only. As you get to deeper ruts, the Black Edition steps over them, almost as if they are not there. You get thrown around with the suspension being so firm. That’s the trade-off between load capacity and comfort.
LCVs make excellent tow vehicles for boats, campers, caravans, and trailers. You can tow 3,500kg of with brakes, and 750kg without a braked load.
You sit high above most traffic, and it is difficult to avoid feeling like a lumber jack such is the inherent testosterone. Having said that, with so many other SUVs on the road, that feeling is less pronounced than it used to be.
There are no driver aids like: active cruise control, lane control, lane warning, blind spot monitor, or automatic parking. That’s a shame. Otherwise the drive is a pleasure. The hydraulic power steering is reasonable considering Navara’s size, weight, and height.
NOTE: you need electric power steering for aids lick lane guidance and assisted parking. Navara steering is hydraulic.
I like driving a big, bold pick-up truck. It will never replace a nippy hot hatch or open top sports car of course. The trade-off is a sense of freedom and adventure that sports cars, even open top ones, can’t match.
There is a ton of room in the tub, but the rear legroom is slightly disappointing.
When discussing safety, keep in mind the safety rating is pertinent only to the year of testing. The standard changes each year so a vehicle achieving 5 stars in 2015 might not get 5 stars in 2018. For example, cars require AEB (autonomous emergency braking) in 2018 if they want a 5-star rating.
- Full size spare
- Isofix outer rear seats
- Reversing camera
- Traction control, abs
- Vehicle dynamic control
- Brake assist
- Electronic diff lock
- 7 airbags
- Hill start assist
- Daytime running lights
- ANCAP 5 star (tested 2015)
- Handsome looks
- Solid feel
- Large tray
Not So Good Bits
- No tray liner
- Few driver aids
- Slightly old fashioned interior
Once you are used to the size, Navara is easy to drive and park.
It is handsome on the outside, with a cabin that feels clean spacious. Things feel so well put together that there is a certainly feeling of invincibility. It drives like most LCVs, slightly floaty, but comfortable and smooth. Gone are the days when pick-up utes were basic and poverty stricken.
When it comes time to sign on the dotted line, be sure to check for deals and special offers.
Facts and Figures: 2018 2018 Nissan Navara Black Edition
- Engine: 2.3L four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel producing 140kW/450Nm
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Warranty: 3/ 100,000km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Thailand
- Price: from $51,190
Author: Alan Zurvas