Sales of the traditional four-wheel-drive double cab ute in New Zealand are showing no sign of slowing.
There are a multitude of pick-ups in today’s market, and competition between the major manufacturers is fierce.
Most manufacturers offer dress-up kits and accessories that will give your ute a point of difference. There are also many choices in terms of limited edition models that complement the mainstream range.
One of those is Nissan’s Navara N-Trek Warrior, it’s full of kit and adornments that make it stand out in the crowd; it is bold, brash and downright aggressive and it also looks as if it is here to stay such is the detail that has gone into the model.
Alongside the elements which make the N-Trek Warrior stand out, it is also plush with a heap of kit that also takes it up a level in terms of refinement. Major features include satellite navigation, orange-stitched and two-tone leather and cloth trim with heated front seats, keyless entry and ignition, rear and overhead view camera system, touch screen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control and all the safety gear to earn it a five-star Australasian New Car Assessment Program safety rating.
Cabin comfort is high and space is plentiful. The deck area doesn’t compromise greatly the rear seating area, and the rake on those uprights is sufficient so that travel in the rear over long distances isn’t compromised.
It’s one thing to dress up a model, but if those accessories are going to hinder the working role or its ability off-the-seal then I can’t really see the point. However, Nissan have gone one step further with the N-Trek Warrior, it’s four-wheel-drive ability is enhanced through massive tyres, the high profile Cooper rubber (215/70 x 17in) provides the
N-Trek Warrior with substantial off-road ability. Such are the size of the tyres (32in in diameter) that ground clearance has been raised substantially up to 268mm.
Nissan had to do a lot of development work to make these tyres work on the vehicle, it required a suspension lift and some alterations so that the rubber wouldn’t grab any of the mechanicals when suspension travel was at its greatest. The shock absorbers are also a special specification for the Warrior, providing that compliance needed for comfort.
The result is a formidable off-road ute in terms of looks and four-wheel-drive ability. Now, I’m not saying I evaluated the N-Trek Warrior to an extreme level off-road, I learnt many years ago not to venture off the seal seriously when alone, so I just poked around a dry river bed selecting low ratio only to conquer a couple of low shingle banks. However, I can report there was little chance of challenging the ride height or approach and departure angles, the N-Trek Warrior has substantial off-road ability.
Take into account, too, that when Nissan introduced the latest generation Navara it came with a new rear suspension set-up, the live axle is located by coil springs and a multiple linkage set-up, the sophistication within the mechanicals is immense.
The engine is pretty much the same unit that has been around for several years. It is a twin-turbocharged, twin-camshaft four-cylinder unit which displaces 2298cc.
Nissan claims healthy power outputs of 140kW (3750rpm) and 450Nm, maximum torque is realised all of the way between 1500rpm and 2500rpm. The latter provides immediate impetus, and strong-from-standstill momentum.
Drive is channelled through a seven-speed automatic gearbox, it has smooth, almost undetectable shifts, especially in the first few gears where it is biased low so if the ute is laden it hauls freely from take-off.
On the subject of load, Nissan claim a tow rating of 3500kg and a payload weight of 724kg housed in an area that measures 1503mm x 1490mm x 474mm.
The Navara is amongst the most economical of the mainstream utes in New Zealand. Nissan claims a seven-litre per 100km combined cycle rating. The trip computer was reading around 10l/100km when I took the test car back to the dealership, also showing an instantaneous 8l/100km at 100km/h (engine speed 1750rpm).
There’s been little doubt that utes are becoming more car-like, not so much in their in-cabin features but in the way they drive. The N-Trek Warrior can be pushed into a corner with little fear. What Nissan’s engineers have done with the rear axle is genius. It is load bearing to cater for that heavy item, yet as a vehicle it has control and balance not generally experienced before in a vehicle of this type.
On those gentle undulating riverbed tracks, the N-Trek Warrior imparts a comfortable ride. Even though the tyres have stiff sidewalls and don’t absorb a lot of the pounding from uneven surfaces, the suspension takes care of that, the in-cabin experience is completely acceptable.
The Navara N-Trek Warrior lands here at $76,990, it tops out the 10-model range that, incidentally, starts at $31,990.
I had the evaluation ute for a week and quickly came to enjoy its stature. Sure, at almost 5.4m it is a big vehicle and that needs to be taken into account in close confines, those standard metered car parks in our city are a bit of a challenge. It’s also a bit of step-up into the cabin proper, old age making that just a little bit harder than it needed to be.
Nevertheless, there are many advantages in owning a ute, I used it to shift some of my daughter’s belongings as she transferred from one flat to another.
With all of the N-Trek Warrior enhancements the Navara will most certainly interest recreational enthusiasts and those buyers who want a ute for commercial use.