New 2018 Nissan Navara utes are about to arrive in Nissan New Zealand showrooms.
New improved Nissan Navara ute range
Nissan New Zealand is introducing a range of “under the metal” changes to its Navara ute range, aimed at improving the ride, handling, steering and safety of the models.
There will be a new rear suspension change, and the introduction of an “Around View Monitor” fitted within the 7-inch infotainment system on the top-of-the-range ST-X dual cab and King Cab models.
Four mounted cameras will help drivers notice people and cars surrounding and approaching the new Navara, and make it easier to park the utes. Rear view cameras will be offered as standard on all models in the Navara range.
However the external appearance of the Navara is largely unchanged for 2018.
Changes to the rear suspension have been developed specifically for the New Zealand and Australian markets, following feedback from customers.
The updates have been developed for Dual Cab SL, ST and ST-X variants in the Australian and New Zealand markets.
A new dual-rate rear spring system has been introduced, to improve drive performance, particularly when the Navara is carrying a load, and when towing.
The dual-rate rear spring system has an integrated lower and higher spring rate that provides a comfortable ride in unladen and light payload conditions, and allows higher payload to be carried without compromise in posture or ride and handling quality.
Within this updated rear suspension, Nissan has incorporated the dynamic rebound damper. When laden, the damper is designed to contact the chassis rail, which causes the damper to compress and the resistance to increase — reducing lateral body movement and improving the Navara’s handling and stability.
Nissan has also responded to criticism of the steering on the Navara.
In a series of steering adjustments on Dual Cab SL, ST and ST-X models, the steering ratio has been improved from 21.5:1 to a lower 19.0:1.
This means the steering wheel is turned less to get the angle, or the degree of turn, from the wheels.
In addition, the linear steering ratio has increased from 44mm/rev to 49mm/rev, so that each time the steering wheel has turned one full revolution the tie-rod moves 49mm, and the lock-to-lock ratio — the number of turns it takes to rotate the wheels from left to right or vice versa — has reduced from 4.1 to 3.4. Combined, this has enhanced the Navara’s manoeuvrability, making it easier and more enjoyable to drive.
In further changes, the 2018 Navara also features an assortment of new safety and technology updates including a second row ISOFix child seat mounting points (on all Dual Cab grades), and the expanded availability of Rear View Cameras (on all Pickup variants) and satellite navigation (added to King Cab ST).
Helping ute owners keep an eye on their speed, from June all Navara SL, ST and ST-X models will feature a digital speedometer in the instrument cluster.
Additional (and the re-positioning of) tie-down hook points will make it easier to pack equipment in the rear of the Navara.
On RX, SL and ST Pickup grades, tie-down hook positions have been lowered, while on ST-X grades with Utili-track, there are four additional tie-down hooks lower within the tub.
Two ISOFix child seat mounting points have been added to the outer rear seats on all Dual Cab grades, and satellite navigation has been fitted as standard equipment on the King Cab ST grade, aligning with its Dual Cab sibling.
New Zealand Navara models will continue to be powered by either a 2.3 litre inter-cooled twin-turbo diesel engine that boasts 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque, or a single-turbo diesel engine delivering 120kW of power and 403Nm of torque.
There are the options of a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed automatic transmission which has a manual mode.
Driving the new Navara utes
Who knew there was an issue with how the rear of the Nissan Navara sat on the road? Among the changes just announced by Nissan is a new suspension arrangement at the rear of the popular utes.
This year’s Navaras will have a “dual-rate” rear spring system, where the lower spring rate provides a comfortable ride when the vehicle is empty.
The second, higher spring rate, allows a higher payload to be carried without compromising the posture of the ute, or its riding and handling quality.
The new set-up improves the stance of the ute when it is loaded, and improves handling while it is towing.
We drove several new Navara utes on secondary roads near the Yarra Valley northwest of Melbourne last week, and they feel surprisingly grounded on the road for a ute.
The test was over more than 200km of road, made up of both sealed and gravel roads.
Nissan light commercial vehicle engineers from around the world descended on similar roads near Bendigo last year to improve the Navara suspension set-up.
During two sessions, and a third late last year to validate the changes being made, the engineers compared the Navara with several of its competitors, including the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and Holden Colorado.
After thousands of hours of testing, the engineers settled on adjustments to the steering, the damping (the front and rear shock absorbers) and the rear springs.
Driven tested the changes last week, towing a 950kg camper/trailer, and driving with 650kg dead weight in the tray. In both cases, the ride and steering was more certain as the Navara handled different road conditions.
Nissan has also answered criticism that it took too many turns of the steering wheel to manoeuvre the Navara, by changing the settings to provide greater change of direction with less steering wheel movement.
Other new technology and safety features have brought the Navara up-to-date, and the company has wisely decided not to tamper with the still-contemporary and bold appearance of the models.
MY18 Nissan Navara range - Recommended retail prices
- RX 2WD cab/chassis - $37,990
- RX 2WD D/C Manual - $40,490
- RX 2WD D/C Auto - $42,490
- ST 2WD D/C Manual - $47,290
- ST 2WD D/C Auto - $49,290
- ST-X 2WD D/C Manual - $52,490
- ST-X 2WD D/C Auto - $54,490
- RX 4WD D/C Auto - $52,490
- SL 4WD D/C Manual - $52,490
- SL 4WD D/C Auto - $54,490
- ST 4WD D/C Manual - $57,290
- ST 4WD D/C Auto - $59,290
- ST-X 4WD D/C Manual - $62,490
- ST-X 4WD D/C Auto - $64,490
- RX 4WD S/Cab/Chassis MT - $47,990
- RX 4WD K/Cab/Chassis MT - $48,990
- ST 4WD K/Cab Wellside Auto - $56,490
- ST-X 4WD K/Cab Wellside Auto - $56,490