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Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 review


Based on the entry-level Navara, Nissan’s SL Warrior is a cut-price off-road alternative to the beefy PRO-4X Warrior that has captured hearts and minds

Good points

  • Impressive ride quality for a ute
  • Good range of off-road upgrades
  • Rubber floor mats as standard
  • Fantastic off-road handling

Needs work

  • Basic, durable-grade cabin
  • Lazy automatic transmission
  • Tight back seat

Now in its second-generation, Nissan Australia’s Warrior-badged Navara is known for its off-road ability and rugged nature. Until this year, the Warrior pack was only available on the pricey and posh Navara Pro-4X grade ($67,515 before on-road costs) – but Nissan has now added many of the ute’s bush-bashing tricks to a more affordable new Navara SL Warrior spec that is $9515 cheaper.

Adding the best off-roading hardware from top-end trucks to a cheaper and more accessible grade is a move straight out of the playbook of the American pick-up manufacturers, giving those looking to get into the off-roading world without having to shell out big bucks for all the luxuries that aren’t necessary off the beaten track.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 rear 3/4 hill

Like the previous Warriors, the SL starts life in Australia as a regular Navara before it undergoes a conversion at Premcar in Melbourne.

On the outside, the Navara gets a hooped bullbar at the front that’s not only winch compatible, but also gets an integrated LED light bar. Beneath this sits a Navara-branded bash plate that’ll protect the ute’s vitals from harsh terrain. It also gets the same black fender flares as the PRO-4X Warrior, which surround the 17-inch alloy wheels that are wrapped in Cooper all terrain tyres.

At the rear, it misses out on getting the same sports bar as the PRO-4X Warrior, but still gets a tow bar as standard. To round out the package, Premcar is also responsible for the retuned suspension that the SL Warrior sits on. Here, the Navara gains an extra 40mm of ground clearance, bringing the total to 260mm, and the ute also benefits from reduced spring rates, making for a softer ride on and off the tarmac.

Later, the Nissan Warrior family is set to grow with the confirmed addition of a V8-powered Patrol Warrior large SUV, and the overseas-market Terra wagon could even get the Warrior treatment in future.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 front 3/4 close

In Australia, the Nissan Navara SL Warrior starts from $58,000 before on-road costs for a manual, and $60,500 for the auto. This represents an $11,000 jump from the dual cab Navara SL on which the Warrior is based, but then again, it’s also about $10,000 cheaper than the full fat PRO-4X Warrior at the top.

In standard SL, non-Warrior form, the 4×4 Navara is no slouch off the beaten track, but there’s no denying that the Premcar conversion has made it all the more better. But there are two questions posed here – is the premium over standard ute worth it? And does the SL Warrior prove that less really is more in comparison with the PRO-4X Warrior?

How does the Navara drive?

Despite the convincing conversion on the aesthetic front, Premcar has left the 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel engine beneath the bonnet of the Navara untouched. Here, this engine makes 140kW/450Nm, which is sent to all four wheels in the Warrior via either a six-speed manual, or a seven-speed automatic transmission.

For our time in the SL Warrior, we had the automatic, and while this seems like the more off-road friendly transmission, it left me with a yearning for three pedals. This is not to say that the automatic transmission is bad, because it isn’t, but more so a commentary on what we’ve come to expect in the dual-cab ute segment.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 engine

The pairing of the slushy auto with the torque-heavy diesel engine isn’t exactly inspiring, and can feel sluggish at times waiting for shifts. Whacking the shifter into manual mode doesn’t help this case, either, as it’s one of the most disconnected ‘manual’ modes that I have come across.

Though the engine doesn’t offer a stark performance difference to this sluggish transmission, there’s plenty of torque on offer at any point. At times, it can feel a little out of breath when pushed near the top of its rev range, but again, this is something we’ve come to expect from these dual-cab workhorses.

Sluggish performance from the engine and auto pairing means lethargic acceleration in the real world. At our test track, we managed a 0-100km/h time in the Navara SL Warrior of 11.24sec. By comparison, a Ranger four-cylinder walks away from it, with an 8.53sec time.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 front 3/4 driving 2

One area where the SL Warrior differs from the majority of the ute segment is the ride. As soon as you hit the road with the SL Warrior, it’s obvious that it isn’t a standard ute by any means, as it doesn’t offer the same harsh ride on tarmac. For the most part, this will be down to Premcar’s retuned suspension system, but I also believe that the large all terrain tyres also play a part in this.

Off the tarmac, it’s a similar story, but I’d argue that the ride is even more impressive with the Navara soaking up harsh corrugations on gravel roads with ease. It’s not to the degree of the Ford Ranger Raptor with its fancy Fox Racing suspension, but it’s a happy middleground.

When it comes to slower, more technical off-road driving, the Warrior feels extremely confident with plenty of grip at all four corners. That extra 40mm of ground clearance added with the Warrior package also comes in handy, with the ute being able to keep clear of large obstacles.

While all these suspension upgrades do wonders for the ute on the off-road front, it seems to come at the detriment of on-road handling, as everything feels rather vague. There’s a big deadzone at the centre of the steering travel, which feels a little disconcerting at speed.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 front 3/4 driving

As a whole, the steering feels quite heavy and slow, but this is nothing new in a ute. One area that surprised me on the handling front was the sheer amount of grip offered by the Cooper all-terrain tyres.

Measuring 275mm wide at all for corners, there’s no shortage of rubber on the road, and this translates to seemingly high levels of grip. Though drivers will find their limits quickly when pushing them, these Cooper tyres seem to hold on a bit longer than the ones found on the Ranger Raptor.

As you’d expect from an entry-level ute, active safety features are few and far between on the SL Warrior. While it does get basic cruise control and AEB as standard, it misses out on other aspects such as blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist. It also gets a standard reversing camera, but the quality is a bit behind what you’d expect in modern times.

Drivability scorecard
Power & performance
Ride & refinement

How is the Navara’s interior?

Basic. It should come as no surprise to hear that the interior of an entry-level ute is almost completely frill-free. Hard, scratchy plastics cover the majority of interior surfaces, bar the cloth covered arm rests on each door.

There’s no denying that this leaves the cabin of the Warrior feeling rather cheap, but then it also makes for a rugged interior that will be easy to clean. Along the same lines, the addition of rubber floor mats as standard is something that doesn’t happen often enough with these off-road friendly vehicles.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 interior

Things follow the same theme for cabin technology, but it all works well. Behind the multifunction steering wheel sits an analog gauge cluster with a digital display in the centre.

An 8.0-inch infotainment display sits in the centre of the dash, and is flanked by physical buttons. This system supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but drivers are going to have to plug their phones in via a USB-A cable to get this to work.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 front seats

While the Navara’s cabin remains presentable – and decent among dual-cab utes – the problem is that the recently-arrived, tech-forward Ford Ranger T6.2 range leaves everything else feeling dated inside.

Beneath this screen are the air conditioning controls that throw it back to days of old with three dials that control temperature, fan speed, and direction. These are easy to use.

The cloth seats that come in the Navara SL are nice, but nothing special. The driver’s seat gets electric adjustment but the passenger’s seat doesn’t. Space across the front row is decent, with great-sized door bins and a deep centre console.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 back seat 2

Like most utes, the second row is generous with head room, but it’s pretty tight for leg room. This also isn’t helped by the upright backrest that can’t be adjusted.

Impressively, Premcar has managed to retain the Navara’s one-tonne payload in the tray of the SL Warrior, whereas the larger PRO-4X Warrior dropped to 950kg. Other goodies back here include a full-sized spare beneath the tray, and a tow bar fitted as standard. It’s also worth noting that the SL Warrior is rated to tow 3.5-tonnes.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 tray

Interior scorecard
Layout & materials
Cabin technology
Driver comfort
Passenger space

What are the Navara’s running costs?

Nissan claims a combined fuel economy figure of 7.6L/100km for the Navara SL Warrior. During independent testing, we found that 8.4L/100km was the best that the ute could muster up. While this is almost a whole litre clear of Nissan’s claim, it still isn’t bad considering the meaty tyres that the 2.1-tonne ute rides on.

In terms of servicing, the SL Warrior is covered under Nissan’s regular Navara plan. This will set buyers in Australia back $2860, and cover the ute for five years and up to 100,000km with intervals every 20,000km.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 rear 3/4 hill

In comparison to its rivals in the Mazda BT-50 Thunder, and Toyota Hilux SR, the Nissan is a bit more expensive. Over the same period, Mazda owners would pay $2404, and Toyota owners would pay $1560 for six services over three years.

The fact that Premcar’s conversion is also covered by Nissan’s five-year, unlimited KM warranty is also a massive win for the SL Warrior.

Running costs scorecard

The final verdict

As a whole, there’s no denying that Nissan Australia’s Navara SL Warrior is a competent package capable of being both a daily workhorse, and an overlanding rig in the back and beyond.

The fact that it’s based on an entry-level ute means that it’s somewhat of an outlier in a market where big off-road packages are exclusively based on full-fat dual cabs.

Nissan Navara SL Warrior 2023 rear 3/4 close

Given that the Navara is pretty handy off the tarmac in standard form, most weekend warriors (excuse the pun) wouldn’t need to make the $11,000 jump to the Warrior.

I can imagine that it will appeal to those looking at getting into a PRO-4X Warrior, but are ok skipping on a few niceties for a bottom line that starts with a six instead of a seven.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs

Variant tested SL WARRIOR (4x4)

Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

2298 cc
Diesel Twin Turbo
140kW at 3750rpm
450Nm at 1500rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
80 litres
7.9L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
1012km (claimed)
5260 mm
1850 mm
1825 mm
Unoccupied weight
2033 kg

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