Would an SUV be as good off-road or be able to haul quite so much cargo? That’s very unlikely, especially for this money
The 2020 Nissan Navara is a vehicular fossil, but this mid-size pickup remains a popular and practical work truck. The Navara is basically unchanged since it made its debut in 2004 for the 2005 model year. Still, its configurable cargo box and durable interior—not to mention its low starting price—make it extra desirable to contractors and tradesmen. While it lacks high-tech driver assists, the Nissan pickup truck has impressive tow ratings and affordable off-road models. No one is calling the 2020 Navara contemporary, but it continues to be a budget-friendly and competent tool.
All Navaras get a 2.3-litre twin-turbocharged diesel engine with either 163 hp in Acenta trims, or with 190 hp in N-Connecta, Tekna and N-Guard models. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard and a seven-speed automatic ‘box is optional with the more potent motor.
Like most rivals the Navara is available in a pretty wide variety of bodystyles. Most popular is the Double Cab, which has four proper doors and five seats. If you need a longer load bed there’s the King Cab, with two occasional rear seats and a shorter cab, and both can be bought without a bed at all so you can fit custom bodywork. Just bear in mind that you’ll need to pick a lowly trim-level for this.
The Navara’s appealing interior and responsive touchscreen infotainment system impress, while the top diesel engine is gutsier than those found in the Isuzu D-Max and cheaper Toyota Hiluxes.
Key to the Navara’s success was Nissan’s decision to fit the best-selling doublecab variant with a five-link rear suspension layout, rather than the live rear axle fitted to the workaday base model. This means the Navara rides and handles in a far more car-like manner. It’s not going to match the sophistication of European SUVs, but the Nissan makes a very decent fist indeed of delivering decent dynamics.
And it’s obvious by the punishing off-road regime we’ve just put the Nissan through that this rear suspension layout hasn’t in any way affected its ability to get down and dirty. Overall refinement levels are fine, the gearbox does a good job of slipping unobtrusively through its ratios to making best use of all that low-rev torque and avoid pushing the engine above 3000rpm where it starts getting a little raucous. In short, it’s a perfectly adequate compromise between on and off-road work.