Coming from a big family, our weekends are usually spent out of town hauling the kids, bags, groceries and the family dog all in the comfort of our ever-dependable SUV (sport utility vehicle). Our SUV serves us well as it provides unequalled car comforts with adequate hauling capabilities.
However, our need for hauling bigger items such as furniture, appliances and green leafy plants grew ever so bigger that our SUV just couldn’t come up to the task a pick-up truck is designed to do. With a pickup truck, one can carry anything under the sun (within its maximum payload capacity). The downside, however, is most pick-ups ride like a horse and drive like a truck… until now!
We purchased our first pickup truck 10 years ago. It was a top-of-the-line Toyota 4×4 Hi-Lux G that came with leather seats, power windows and locks, 4-speed automatic transmission (AT) with 15-inch alloy wheels… the works! But the ownership was short lived.
Sadly, after being dropped off at the domestic airport for a family reunion in Davao, our three-month-old driver didn’t bother coming back home to return the pick-up. Adding insult to injury, the insurance coverage on the pick-up just expired.
Badly in need of another pickup truck, we purchased a 4×4 Nissan Navara in 2010. We opted for the Nissan because back then, the Hi-Lux only had a slight redesign from our previous unit, and the Nissan stood a bit lower that made ingress for oldies a lot better. Compared to that of the Hi-Lux, the Navara had a lot better ride and a punchy CRDI high-pressure 2.5-liter turbodiesel engine.
Five years have gone by and now it is time for another upgrade. What could be a good pick-up truck for this growing competitive market, where five years is usually the norm for having face changes.
The year 2015 is the transition period for most pick-ups that haven’t had a complete makeover for over 10 years. The Ford Ranger and Mazda’s BT50 started the trend, followed by Isuzu D-Max and recently, the Mitsubishi Strada and the Toyota Hi-Lux. What truck would satisfy our needs?
Recently, I was invited by the marketing head of Nissan Philippines Inc. ((NPI), Dax Avenido, to the launch of the all new-Navara. It was a very exciting moment. Being early, in fact, has its advantages. NPI president Antonio Zara, after finding out that I was in the market for a new pick-up, brought me backstage and gave me one-on-one preview of the all-new Navara. Zara personally showed me all the details and new features of the new Nissan pick-up.
Globally, Nissan has been coming out with game-changing vehicles in all class segments. In fact, Zara offered me the exact unit being launched. Unfortunately the colors on display were not to my liking but Zara got me hooked!
What made this truck stand out among all pick-ups out there? For one, the NP300 Navara is the first pick-up to offer a five-link coil-sprung rear suspension with stabilizer bar set-up. In a workhorse segment where old-school leaf springs are the usual fare, the Navara’s rear suspension system is an indication of the changing face of pick-up buyers–offering customers a more car-like ride and handling characteristics.
Add to this the Navara’s new YD25 DDTI variable turbocharged intercooled (VGS) diesel CRDI engine that offers 450 Newton-meters of torque at 2,000 revolutions per minute and 190 PS (about 187 horsepower) at 2,000 rpm. It also has a seven-speed AT with manual mode transmission, which is the first in its class. Such a convincing package.
The list of specifications and features are also indicative of the changing use of pick-up trucks like dual-zone climate control, 5.0-inch display audio with CD, tuner, MP3, AUX, USB port, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth phone with audio steering functions that are standard in the top-spec shift-on-the-fly 4×4 model.
Standard safety kit includes driver and passenger airbags, a reversing camera (4×4 model only), anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist. Its electronic stability control has vehicle dynamic control with hill decent control and hill start assist. Then there’s active brake limited slip and traction control system.
The new NP300 Nissan Navara is a game-changer in the ever-competitive pick-up segment. It is a better vehicle all-round than its predecessor, but it hasn’t made the great leap forward in terms of size and road manners that competitors, like the all-new Mitsubishi Strada, the trend-setting but Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, all-new Isuzu D-Max, Chevy Colorado and the newly-launched Toyota Hilux, have. The Navara will have its work cut out for it to maintain its popularity.
The all-new Nissan Navara is the latest offering in more than 80 years of pick-up manufacturing from Nissan and Datsun. It brings more to the table for family and recreational users as well as traders.
In our next issue, we write about how our process went in purchasing the top-of-the-line 4×4 Navara and our experience in driving its first 5,000 kilometers.