The current Nissan Navara has seen service for close to a decade, but this old stalwart still has appeal. Is the muscled PRO-4X worth considering next to its modernised opposition?
The Nissan Navara PRO-4X dual cab ute proves you don’t need to be a Warrior to stand out.
This work/play/lifestyle/family 4×4 is one of numerous one-tonners on our market loaded with kit, style and a bit of luxe, chasing the dollars of cashed-up buyers happy to drop $60k+ on a ute.
These – like the PRO-4X – are loaded with equipment, but are a step down from the most hardcore, seriously off-road ready offerings out there.
Nissan’s entry is the PRO-4X Warrior, boasting body, wheel, tyre and suspension enhancements for serious adventuring. All well and good, but becoming a Warrior means a near $10,000 premium over this standard PRO-4X.
If you don’t need all the gear but still want to turn heads, the PRO-4X (without its Warrior stripes) is the smarter choice.
In Nissan’s own words, the PRO-4X halo model “incorporates the design features, styling and refinements demanded by buyers at the premium end of the utility market.”
To those of us who grew up when utes were dented and dusty work vehicles, ‘premium end’ and ‘utility market’ don’t sit well.
But sales figures don’t lie: 4×4 dual-cab sales have been stratospheric for years, and it’s often these fancy ones filling driveways.
Price-wise, when the facelifted Navara landed in March 2021, the PRO-4X was $61,290 drive-away (six-speed manual) and $62,790 on the road for a seven-speed auto. The same utes today are, respectively, about $63,000 and $66,000 drive-away.
The Navara is Nissan’s best-selling golden goose from its line-up, so it’s not been shy offering Aussie buyers plenty of range choice.
Cab chassis and dual cab RWDs kick things off, followed by single/king/dual cab chassis 4x4s.
Instead, we’ll focus on the strong-selling dual cab pickups (utes), price of entry starting at $46,600 for an SL, maxing out with the PRO-4X Warrior at $67,515.
All Navara dual cab 4×4 pickups share a 2.3-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel good for 140kW/450Nm.
The engine is one of the more refined ute diesels, but it’s noticeably short on guts, and proved painfully tardy on our dual cab megatest last year. It laboured to 100km/h in 12 seconds, so if speed’s your thing, the V6 Ford Ranger or VW Amarok are your targets.
To appreciate the PRO-4X’s inclusions, let’s look down the Navara range. The entry-level SL’s lumbered with 17-inch steel wheels, halogen lights and plasticky steering wheel and gear shifter.
It does, however, include an electronic locking rear diff, hill descent control, trailer sway control, 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, cruise control, digital speedo, auto lights and tailgate assist.
Another $5000 gets you in the ST. This adds a drive mode selector, off-road monitor, surround-view monitor, sat nav, digital radio, LED lights, 17-inch alloys, a power-sliding rear window (very cool and useful for fishing rods and kayak oars), sports bar, auto wipers and leather accented steering wheel and gear shifter.
The ST-X adds a further $3500 to the bill, but brings a tow bar, sliding tie-down hooks, tubliner, 18-inch alloys, smart key and start, dual-zone climate and a full-size alloy spare.
So, the PRO-4X. First mystifying thing is the grade down ST-X can be had with a $1500 leather accent seat option pack, bringing a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, a rear seat armrest and leather for the door trim and centre arm rest.
The PRO-4X, costing $3000 more, gets the leather seats, but no options to add power adjustment for the seats, the rear armrest or the plusher leather accents for doors and centre console.
Extras over the rest of the range are black alloys shod in Yokohama Geolander all-terrain rubber (others use all-season tyres), the sports bar is double tube and of black stainless steel, while black coats the fender flares, roof rails, mirrors, side steps, grille and door handles.
The PRO-4X looks tough as nails in its standard black hue with red flashes on the bumper, fenders and Nissan badges. Different colours add $750.
There’s white, Stealth grey (superb looking and PRO-4X-only) or the Burning red of our test car, which dials up the sportiness.
While we’ve covered what you do get, what about the missing stuff?
While a few grand more, if we compare the PRO-4X to Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak, the Nissan misses out on the Ford’s digital dashboard, a 12.0-inch infotainment screen, wireless CarPlay/Android Auto, wireless phone charging, electric power roller shutter, remote start and pre-heating and cooling.
Positively, the Navara’s come a long way since 2015 in terms of comfort, sound deadening and ride quality.
Unlike the bulk of dual cab rivals, you’ve got a coil sprung rather than leaf spring rear end, and after a few false starts early in its production life, the ride’s now one of the better in class.
To those new to the ute game, these vehicles do not match SUVs for ride comfort and handling, no matter what the salesman, brochure or adverts tell you.
Navara PRO-4Xs claim the ability to carry 1004kg, or tow up to 3500kg, so the chassis and suspension are set up accordingly. GCM is rated at 5910kg, giving you just 264kg of payload (and accessories) to play with if you do max out the towing capacity.
With high centre of gravity too, there’s plenty of lean and roll, but even with no load in the tray, the big Nissan holds on well enough when pushed through sharper turns.
But like every ute, you must remember these are commercial vehicles, so quick changes of direction or hard braking show up its limitations. Steering’s easy and light, but pretty lifeless.
The PRO-4X’s all-terrain tyres help when adventuring, but really don’t like a wet roundabout. Due care and attention and all that.
Want to better enjoy the drive? Use the Navara as it was intended. We slung 300kg of firewood in the tub and this settled the ride a great deal. The Pro-4X felt more planted, safer and with less bounce over road bumps.
Even better, get the thing off road. On our local soft sand beach, as we’ve come to expect from most dual cab 4x4s, there’s talent in reserve.
The Navara pops into low range with a quick push and twist of a cabin dial (when in neutral), and it simply walks the rough stuff, helped by that standard locking rear diff when needed.
Wading depth’s 600mm and unladen ground clearance 224mm. If you need more, the Warrior version gives an extra 40mm and beefed-up suspension, but again, only serious adventurers need apply to ensure you’ll make use of it.
The twin-turbo engine shows initial promise by getting quickly off the mark, but torque soon runs out and the transmission doesn’t shift through cogs quickly enough to help matters. As revs climb, the diesel goes from refined to noisy and gruff.
But drive it with patience and calm and it’s a lovely thing. On the highway – this thing cruises with deeply impressive quiet – you’re only on 1900rpm at 110km/h. While the engine whispers, there’s a bit of tyre noise thanks to those all-terrains, but nothing disturbing.
In town your lofty ride height and visibility are standout, but ute life brings with it the pain of parking and manoeuvring. Get used to five-point turns and wedging into parking spaces, but at least the PRO-4X’s cameras give impressive assistance.
Like a broken record, I’m returning to the Ford Ranger. Thing is, we must compare all utes on sale today with the new-generation Blue Oval one-tonner, which landed last year. Why? For many, this writer included, it’s the new benchmark in class.
The Navara’s at a striking disadvantage due to this generation being eight years old. The game’s moved on significantly, and while 2021’s facelift freshened things, the old bones remain.
Examples. The steering wheel adjusts only for height, not reach. It makes finding a comfortable driving position harder than it need be. As utes profess to offer ‘car like’ cabins these days, such an elementary oversight – in a $60k+ vehicle remember – is tough to justify.
As is the sea of hard plastic. Yes, it must be somewhat true to its utilitarian roots, but to market itself towards ‘buyers at the premium end’ it must do better than scratchy plastic dash and door tops, and the tiniest slither of armrest padding.
Positively, the Navara’s cabin feels robust and well put together, hinting at longevity.
Even so, the centre console plastics (chrome look and piano black around the gearshift), the manual handbrake and elderly-looking infotainment/climate combo also fail to live up to the asking price.
During our testing, the touchscreen worked well, and the wired Apple CarPlay/Android Auto performed faultlessly.
Connectivity comes through a USB-A port in a well-sized tray bin to hold your phone, while there’s a USB-A and USB-C in the centre console, plus another USB-A for the back seats.
A seven-inch trip computer (with digital speedo) between the analogue speedo and tacho covers your vitals, and you’re well covered for bottle and cup holders. This PRO-4X just lacks a bit of X-factor.
The leatherette seats are comfortable and supportive, featuring cushioned hexagonal patterns for your bum and back. A dash of sportiness is added with red stitching, and – key for many buyers – they’re damn cosy over long journeys.
Rear seats are equally comfy, although legroom’s a bit tight and the floor quite high, but at least the under-leg support’s good. There are rear air vents, but dual cab utes simply aren’t as kind to rear passengers as a decent large SUV.
If you favour simplicity, ease-of-use and good old-fashioned solid feel, the Navara won’t disappoint.
Prepare to be confused. All current generation Nissan Navaras were five-star ANCAP vehicles up until the end of 2022; but any built from January 1, 2023 are unrated.
Why? Due to stricter, more comprehensive testing and active safety features required, ANCAP recently placed a six-year expiry date on its safety scores.
The current generation D23 Navara was five-star safety rated at its launch back in 2015, but hasn’t been re-tested since.
Positively, back then, it scored 14.01 out of 16 in the frontal offset test; 16 out of 16 for side impact test and 2 out of 2 for the pole test. However, its pedestrian protection was judged only marginal.
Above all, it’s understandable you’ll feel safer in utes crash tested in 2022 and awarded five stars under stricter criteria. The Mazda BT-50, Isuzu D-Max and Ford Ranger fit into that category.
As standard, the Navara PRO-4X’s safety kit comprises:
The Navara being such a big vehicle, and many Australian roads being not that wide, the lane departure warning beeps are a constant earworm. At least the intervention isn’t too invasive, and you can turn beeps off if it all gets too much.
All utes should have rear cross traffic alert – it makes a massive difference when reversing out of parking spaces or driveways.
The Navara’s a lengthy beast – 5120mm – so having the extra set of eyes behind warning of approaching vehicles is a godsend.
Same deal with the around-view monitor – they’re at their best in things like utes, and it makes it very hard to bingle the Navara.
What about omissions? If we look again to the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, the PRO-4X misses some safety found in this market-fresh one-tonner.
Unlike the Ford, the Nissan fails to offer a central airbag between driver and passenger, radar cruise control, evasive steer assist, self-parking or rear disc brakes (yep, drums are still a thing).
Servicing a dual cab ute can give nasty price shocks. The Navara’s no different, but is beneficial to those travelling big distances each year.
Unlike most rivals, a Navara’s service intervals are annual or every 20,000km. It’s typically every 15,000km, while the best-selling Toyota Hilux needs visits every six-months/10,000km.
Nissan’s capped price servicing equals $3412 over five years/100,000km. Much tougher on the family budget than a typical 4×4 SUV’s service costs.
As for economy, Nissan claims 8.1L/100km fuel use overall, but gives no data for urban use. Our test over a range of roads and speeds returned 9.0L/100km, highlighting you’ll be well into double figures in town.
With its 80-litre fuel tank, judging by our testing figures, a tank of diesel lasts 889km, versus Nissan’s claim of 988km.
Warranty-wise, the Navara’s covered by Nissan’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre plan. That matches Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen, but is a year down on Isuzu, two years off GWM and five years off Mitsubishi (if serviced at a dealer).
There’s a mighty market for tough-guy dual cabs, and good grief this PRO-4X is an aesthetic standout. Black rims, arches and add-on body bits work superbly with Nissan’s red flashes. It’s a desirable looking rig.
Sure, Navara buyers can go tougher still with the uber-capable Warrior version, but the almost $10k premium will be overkill (financially and capability-wise) for most consumers.
Robust, capable and fit-for-purpose, this is a talented ute that’s biggest failing, sadly, is its age. This Navara generation is getting perilously close to a decade in service, and the game’s moved on. A lot.
The PRO-4X’s cabin, safety, technology and drive experience are all acceptable, but nothing more. Hop into a new Ford Ranger – pricier though it may be – and recent progress slaps you hard in the face with a dusty work glove.
But Navara owners are a loyal lot, and these things have a decent reputation for reliability and long service. It’s still a good ute, but with a new generation probably coming next year, that’s the one worth waiting for.Steering won’t adjust for reach
The massively in-demand Ford Ranger Wildtrak is heavy on style, features and technology – and now it finally offers a V6. Can it justify the hype?
Key specs (as tested)
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