Robert Pepper’s no-holds-barred 2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Review with Pricing, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Safety, Verdict and More.
2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior Specifications
Price $62,990 (man), $64,490 (auto) drive-away Warranty five-years, unlimited kilometres Safety Not rated Engine 2.3-litre four-cylinder twin turbo diesel Power 140kW at 3750rpm Torque 450Nm at 1500-2500rpm Transmission six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic Drive part-time 4WD with low range Dimensions 5385mm long, 1895mm high; 1920mm wide; 3150mm wheelbase Turning Circle 12.4m Ground Clearance 268mm claimed (240mm measured) Angles 35-degrees approach, 19 degrees departure (with towbar) Max braked towing 3500kg Max towball mass 300kg Payload 724kg Fuel Tank 80 litres Thirst 6.5L/100km (manual), 7.0L/100km (auto)
Nissan’s Navara ute was heavily revised in 2015, morphing into the NP300/D23 and then was subsequently and constantly tweaked over the next few years to improve the woeful original rear suspension calibration. Finally, in 2018, Nissan managed to nail the rear-end of the Navara so that it didn’t drag along the ground when you loaded the tray with anything heavier than an esky.
Fast forward to the end of 2019 and Nissan rolled out a locally engineered version of the top-spec Navara N-Trek. And that’s what we’ve just been driving around in for a week. We put it to the test across bitumen, dirt and off-road. But what is the N-Trek? The N-Trek badge is Nissan’s way of adding a few cosmetic flourishes to, well, charge a little extra coin for the thing. The N-Trek is based on the ST-X which sells for $50,490 driveaway, the N-Trek is $52,990, and then there’s the N-Trek Warrior which lists for $67,290+ORCs. Let’s get into this.
How is the Warrior different to a standard Navara?
If you’ve paid any attention to our first drive or other road tests of the Navara N-trek Warrior, you’ll likely have seen images of it being rallied across the countryside. With some media outlets, not us, suggesting this thing is in the mix with the Ford Ranger Raptor. Hmmm. The Warrior has been developed from a standard ST-X (see below) by vehicle engineering specialists Premcar, which is a combination of the brands formerly known as Prodrive and Tickford. Let’s take a look at what makes this thing tick.
The differences between a standard NP300 and the Warrior starts with the tyres. The standard NP300 runs 255/60/18 road-oriented all-terrain tyres while the Warrior runs 275/70/17 Cooper AT3 light-truck tyres with an overall diameter of 32.1 inches, so 53mm taller and 20mm wider. The Warrior wheels are 1- inch not 18s and the offset has been changed from +45 to +30, so the vehicle has a 30mm (45-30 x 2) wider track. The 20mm wider tyres add another 10mm of width either side to take the Warrior to 50mm (30mm on the wheels, 10 x 2mm on the tyres) wider than a standard NP300. To accommodate the extra width, there are flares front and rear, and the turning circle is up to 12.7m compared to the usual 12.4m.
The Warrior is 40mm taller than the standard NP300, of which about 27mm is the tyres so the revised Tenneco springs and Monroe dampers provide around 13mm of lift. The suspension also appears designed for better heat dissipation. There is also a steel integrated front bumper which improves approach angle along with a single bashplate under the front, but it isn’t winch compatible. There is a rear differential lock which engages only in low range, but the brake traction control doesn’t appear to work on the front axle when it is engaged, and there is hill descent control.
That is the extent of the performance changes – the engine, electronics, driveline, gears, chassis and everything else is the same as a standard car. Other Warrior changes are a 470mm lightbar, decals, and various cosmetic highlights such as stitching in and around the cabin. So, in other words, you could easily build yourself a Warrior equivalent with exactly the same tyres, one of many aftermarket wheel options, and suspension from the likes of Ironman, Koni, ARB or Bilstein. This is in contrast to the Raptor, which also has taller tyres and revised suspension, but is fundamentally different to the Ranger with a strengthened chassis, different control arms, rear disc brakes, revised electronic drive systems, and it swaps the Ranger’s leaf rear for a Watts-link coil setup.
So, what’s missing?
Missing from the Warrior setup are some off-road fundamentals. First, there are no extra recovery points, and when asked, Nissan told Unsealed 4X4 the bulbar, “does not have rated recovery points”. The standard alloy sidesteps are still there, easily bent and broken, and the towbar hangs low although the electrics are out of the way. There’s no snorkel, unlike Toyota’s Rugged X. These are all items you’d need to budget for should you opt for a Warrior and swapping the carpet mats for rubber wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Let’s not forget this furphy…
Nissan claims the Warrior has 268mm of ground clearance, but as usual with carmakers, they have confused running clearance with ground clearance and in fact as you see from the photos the under-rear-diff clearance is more like 240mm. We asked Nissan about this, and it said, “ground clearance is calculated by design from a ground plan to the lowest point of the vehicle frame at simulated GVM”. Hmmm, okay. Read the tape measure and draw your own conclusion.
The standard NP300 has approach, ramp and departure angles of 33.2-, 24.7- and 28.2-degrees, respectively – the Warrior’s figures are 35-, 27.5- and 19-degrees with the departure angle made significantly worse by the towbar. Looking at where the off-road testing was conducted around Ouyen and the Big Desert, I’m not surprised Premcar didn’t find any situations where the towbar hung up the vehicle.
The lightbar adds a little extra light to the sides, and quite bit more in front but only for about 50-60m. It is better than nothing but there are brighter bars out there. The switch is, annoyingly, not illuminated so you’d have a hard time finding it in the dark if you didn’t know where it was.
Because the wheels and tyres are heavier, wider and have a greater rolling diameter than standard, that changes the vehicle’s dynamics and would normally result in driveline reinforcements. I asked Nissan about that, and it said, “the standard Navara has very robust componentry. The clever design engineering meant the measured loads never exceeded the loads measured on a standard Navara ST-X”. Nissan also confirmed the speedometer had been recalibrated, as had the electronic driving systems such as ABS, traction and stability controls, so this isn’t just a bolt-on and hope car, it’s been properly developed.
All those extras add another 200kg of weight to the ST-X’s 1993kg tare, bringing the Warrior to a claimed 2186kg although across a weighbridge we saw 2200kg. Nissan claim a 7.0L/100km fuel consumption figure, same as the ST-X – yet with 200kg more weight and tyres that have greater rolling resistance I just don’t see how that’s possible. The rules do say that if the transmission’s overall ratios are changed by up to eight per cent or less then you can use the donor vehicle’s figures, and the overall ratio for the Warrior is seven per cent due to the tyres as the rest of the transmission is the same as the ST-X. Therefore, Nissan can still technically claim 7.0L/100km even though the laws of physics say it’d have to be more.
There are just two Warrior colours, black and our tester which has what I think is an attractive shade of grey. The warranty is identical to that of the ST-X, nothing extra included about off-road use.
What’s the Warrior’s cabin and infotainment like?
There’s power-adjustment on the seat for the driver with a good range of movement but the steering wheel is tilt only. The cabin ergonomics aren’t great – lots of buttons and few dials which are easier to operate without looking, and some controls such as the trip reset button are obscured from view. The centre console is small, as is the glovebox, which is mostly full of owner’s manual, but there are two pop-out drink’s holders either side of the cabin. The rear seatback doesn’t fold down, but the base lifts up to reveal two holes which allow access to limited under-seat storage, as well as where the jack is kept.
There are three 12V sockets including one on the dash, one USB, and two pockets on the rear of the seats. The rear seats are a bit cramped, and the seatbelts are a little low but otherwise comfortable enough, with rear air vents for the passengers but no 12V or USB outlets. Overall, the Navara is a bit below-par for storage and design, but one rare feature is a small power-operated back window.
The infotainment is via Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and integration could be a touch better as it’s sometimes not easy to switch between the standard audio/satnav and the smartphone versions. Nevertheless, you get the hang of it and once that’s done it’s definitely a feature worth having, especially as the technology matures, even if the screen in the Nissan is a little small and low on resolution.
The tub measures 1503mm in length, 1130mm between the wheel arches, and 1560mm for width. It has four tie-down points in the base with a plastic base, a 12V socket on the passenger side, and four moveable anchor points up on rails. The tailgate has a single handle to operate but there’s no soft-open. The tonneau is soft and therefore not secure and supported by two crossbars so not particularly easy to remove and refit. It does appear to be reasonably weather-proof, but it isn’t dust-proof.
What’s the Warrior like to drive around town?
The engine has sufficient power to keep up with traffic, is nicely responsive to inputs in the lower gears with pleasing power when empty, and the gearshift can be left in Drive as the ‘box is smart enough to handle its own decisions, at least in those circumstances.
Ride is a bit better than your average leaf-sprung ute thanks to the coils, but not up to wagon standards. Like all part-time 4WD utes, you need to be careful with the power around wet roundabouts, but the Coopers tyres and coil-sprung rear end do a better job of power-to-ground that you may think. Visibility is a positive, it’s good all round, aided by not only front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera, but even a 360-degree camera system.
What’s the Warrior like to drive on rural roads?
It’s no sports vehicle, but it will roll along at a quick enough pace and is, for a ute, fairly well composed over rougher bitumen. I wouldn’t mind the steering being a bit quicker, and around the curvy bits the gearbox is pretty smart, but when you want to select your own gears and it doesn’t give you the control it should over your own cog selection. For freeway cruising it’s quiet even with the AT3 all-terrains, and the cruise control system is good.
On dirt roads the ride and handling is above average, no doubt thanks to the tyres and, perhaps, to a lesser extent the suspension. I don’t think the stability control programme changes once the car is in 4WD, as it’s a touch too intrusive for gravel surfaces, or if it does change, it needs to allow a little more slip.
What’s the Warrior like off-road?
The Warrior is off to a good start compared to other utes with 50mm taller tyres in an all-terrain pattern which give it 27mm more ground clearance for a very decent 240mm (measured) and an improved approach angle. The brake traction control is generally effective albeit rough in some circumstances such as when starting from rest in difficult conditions, and there’s always plenty of easily controllable power. Engine braking is above average for downhills, and the hill descent control system is smooth and effective, working down to 2km/h, and a good point is that it works with the rear locker engaged so those cross-axle descents are as easy as possible.
But all is not good. The biggest issue is the gearbox, which in low-range work often isn’t good enough to be left in Drive, and it frequently not only refuses to let you choose your own gears, but also makes inappropriate shifts. For example, going downhill you may not be able to shift from, say, second- into third-gear unless you speed up a lot, or into first-gear unless you’re almost stopped, despite the engine being well within the rev limits for either gear. There’s no way to start in second gear, even in low range, and the car will shift down when you don’t want it to. Same deal for hill ascents, where it’s hard to select a given gear. The car may decide to use, say, third-gear low, and you can’t then shift into second-gear if you see some slower-speed work coming up, so you need to wait until the car decides second-gear is appropriate and it’ll only do that once you hit the slow stuff which is too late and results in a traction-losing lurch. This is an appalling problem and has been around in Navaras since the D40 days.
Another criticism is the rear locker. It often takes a long time to engage and a long time to disengage. When you engage it the locker light flashes to let you know the request is acknowledged and it goes solid when the locker is in. That’s fine. But the reverse doesn’t happen, meaning when you disengage the locker there’s no flashing light, just the ABS light illuminates. The maximum engagement speed of 7km/h is too slow, and it won’t engage in high range – for those wondering why you’d want a locker in high range, it’s just about options. For example, I’ve locked up Rangers in two-wheel-drive high and spun them around on tight tracks to face uphill, had to recover cars in two-wheel-drive with broken CVs…who knows. Just give us options, we may use it just the once, but that once could be a lifesaver.
Even when the locker is in, the brake traction control on the front axle is either non-existent or ineffective so in some situations you’re better off not using the locker and relying on the brake traction control which works across all four wheels. But that said, the addition of the locker is a welcome and where there’s good traction, but the vehicle is balancing on diagonal wheels, the locker is more effective than the brake traction control.
It is a shame that Nissan still fit the usual, easily bent, sidesteps with endpieces that are also easily ripped off rather than stronger steel versions. The towbar may be specific to the Warrior, but it hangs too low which is why the departure angle is only 19-degrees compared to 28-degrees on the standard car. On the positive side, the rear coil flexes nicely off-road and there are no leaf springs to get hung up on.
Overall, the NP300 Warrior is a bit sub-par off-road compared to either a Ranger or HiLux. It will get to all the usual places sure, but sometimes with more effort that is necessary. If only Nissan would fix their gearbox it’d be a far better vehicle.
What’s the N-Trek Warrior like to tow with?
The Warrior comes with a towbar and a seven-pin flat socket and it’s rated to tow 750kg unbraked and 3500kg braked. I hooked it up to my car trailer which weighs 1100kg and uses electric brakes…but the Warrior didn’t have an electric brake controller fitted. The solution was an Elecbrakes wireless brake controller which allows any car to operate electric brakes with no need to wire in a brake controller.
The tow test was brief (I hooked up my car trailer) and, as you’d expect, the Warrior towed the weight nicely. A positive was the excellent rear-vision camera which showed the towball clearly during hookup, and the reversing lights beautifully illuminated the surrounding area at night. Wish all cars were like that. On the negative, the towbar height is just about okay for road trailers, noting we were unloaded during the test, but definitely too low for off-road trailers – it really should be higher with a drop hitch where needed for road trailers, like Ford did with the Raptor.
Then we have to look at the towing numbers, which aren’t good. Yes, there’s a 3500kg braked tow rating but, as ever, we don’t recommend you ever tow 3500kg with anything short of a big American ute or true light truck like the Canter. However, the Navara’s numbers are particularly fanciful. There’s only a 300kg towball mass, not 350kg which is 10 per cent of 3500kg. The GVM is 2910kg and the claimed tare is 2186kg, but we measured it at 2200kg, so 2910-2200 = 710kg of payload. This means that with a 300kg towball mass you’d think the payload would be 710-300kg equals 410kg but it’s worse than that. Nissan’s tow sticker says to reduce the GVM by the following; for towball mass of 100kg, reduce GVM (and payload) by 130kg, for 200kg reduce by 280kg, and 300kg by 410kg.
So, for a 300kg towball mass – take the standard GVM of 2910kg, subtract 410kg for 300kg as per Nissan’s direction, and you get a 2500kg GVM. Subtract a 2200kg tare weight and you have 300kg of payload left – not even a family of four let alone any modifications or camping gear. Then there’s the GCM, which is 5910kg, which is less than the sum of the GVM and maximum braked towing capacity. If we take the weight of a 3500kg trailer off that figure we get 5910kg-3500kg equals 2410kg, which is the maximum the Warrior can weigh. And if we take the tare weight off that we have 2410 – 2200kg = 210kg of payload. Not a huge amount.
Either way you cut the numbers, in effect the Warrior is for real purposes more like a 2000kg to 2500kg towing machine if you want to stay legal, and it’s best to consider the 3500kg figure just an unrealistic headline.
Can you go touring with the N-Trek Warrior?
The Warrior’s low payload of 710kg isn’t a good start but bear in mind that when comparing it with a standard ute you’d add weight for tyres, suspension and a few other things anyway, so the figure isn’t as poor as it seems and is comparable to the ST-X’s 900kg. The NP300 is pretty well supported by the aftermarket; it has sufficient off-road capability to get to the usual off-road hotspots, so makes a decent base for touring. The fuel tank is a sizeable 80L and the vehicle is fuel-efficient, so range is impressive even if like all 4X4s a long-range tank would be useful. However, the maximum front axle load is only 1320kg, and we measured it at 1260kg with nobody in it…you’d have to think that it’d be over with any payload, let alone a winch. I asked Nissan about this and no answer had been received at the time of publications. The rear axle load is 940kg, well within limits.
So, what do we think of the Navara N-Trek Warrior?
If you want an off-road-modified Navara I’m not sure the Warrior is your best bet, as it’s expensive for what it is with a $17,000 premium over an ST-X, and the accessories aren’t as well chosen as they should be. Really the only advantage of the Warrior is the factory five-year warranty on the whole vehicle, and perhaps that the electronics have been revised to suit taller tyres although I can’t say I noticed any difference to driving an aftermarket-tuned ute.
I think you could make a Warrior equivalent for around $7000 more than an ST-X, excluding the cosmetic changes like the headlight inserts and seat stitching. So, I’d seriously consider instead a standard ST-X, and roll your own. And don’t make the mistake of thinking the Warrior is in any way equivalent to a Ranger Raptor.