News Reviews Vehicles

2018 Nissan Navara: Have they finally fixed it?

2018 Nissan Navara. Is it finally cut out to haul a load?
2018 Nissan Navara. Is it finally cut out to haul a load?

There’s no getting around it, the original D23 Nissan Navara that came out in 2015 missed the mark. Unloaded, it was a great car. It was efficient, grunty and comfortable. Plus, it shed those leaf springs in favour of a five-link coil-spring setup.

But, it was too soft. Loaded, or towing a big trailer, the car quickly went to the bumpstops and lost all semblance of composure. Steering got vague and light, and the rear end was equally unpredictable.

But now it’s fixed. We’ve driven the new 2018 Nissan Navara, which has had a few key changes to improve the capability. Let’s have a closer look.

We towed for a fair bit of on-road driving with this dingo, which weighed around 1,600 kilograms. It's less than half the 3.5 tonne limit, but it's still a good improvement over the older Navara.
We towed for a fair bit of on-road driving with this dingo, which weighed around 1,600 kilograms. It’s less than half the 3.5-tonne limit, but it’s still a good improvement over the older Navara.

When loaded, the older Navara felt quite floaty and indirect. Now, steering feel is much meatier, and is a significant improvement. It’s less carlike, more ute-like. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s actually great. You’ve got a better feeling of control and feedback, especially when the car is loaded up in the rear: no doom-like onset of vagueness. This is mainly down to a new tighter steering ratio.

The rear coils are now dual rate, which I reckon is a great move. Where the old spring had a static 42 kilonewton (kN) rate, the new one starts at 37kN and tops out at 75kN. There is also a faster steering ratio in the front, which has given it a lot more meat and feel for the driver.

The stiffer, progressive rate rear spring makes for a significant overall change in dynamics. I thought the front end was beefed up as well to match the rear, but the only change is that coil. The shocks were given more damping in the V2 update, and that has stayed for V3. Honestly, a little more damping would be nice when loaded and going over big undulations, as it does just start to unsettle, but that’s also being really, really picky.

You can just see the coils in this photo, but you can't see the softer top end, which compresses and binds together to increase the spring rate.
You can just see the coils in this photo, but you can’t see the softer top end, which compresses and binds together to increase the spring rate.

The ride height is increased at the rear, up 25mm over the previous version. Impressively, when loaded, that goes up to a 40mm increase in static ride height. Proper gear for a proper job.

Now it’s stiffer, that ride does take on a slight jiggle over small bumps. Not it’s not bad, and definitely not harsh. It’s still an improvement unladen, and is meteorically better when loaded. Think of it this way: it was a more carlike drive before, but it also handled a load like a Tiida would: awfully. It’s definitely more ute-like to drive: more assertive. But now loaded, it now (most importantly) cuts the mustard.

Why and how did they get it so wrong to start with? Nissan put too much attention on the Thai market, which dwarves the Australian market in sales, in orders of magnitude. Originally, the Navara had a global tune that was overly soft and car-like, and Nissan thought it would be good enough for the rest of the world. In the United Kingdom, maybe they don’t mind, but in Australia, it was a dead-set flop.

The updated Navara range also gets some key changed to specifications and inclusions, as well as a small bump to the price.
The updated Navara range also gets some key changed to specifications and inclusions, as well as a small bump to the prices.

It has been a two-year process for them to recognise the problem, and then fix it. In that process, they have flown in international engineering teams, teamed them up local teams, and have driven problematic Australian roads to gauge the problems. Kinglake and Bendigo, both in Victoria, were the areas used. Then with the revised coils and steering, they came back out to the same roads to finalise the tune.

Nissan have learnt the hard lesson here: what is good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander, and the Australian market is a harsh and demanding one that needs special attention and care. Now, they are switched on to that importance, and will be taking on a lot more Aussie feedback and development now, and in the future.

The bad new for them is because the first attempt missed the mark, and it has taken them three years to properly fix it, they have lost many, many sales. The market is evolving so fast, and moving to the high end. They see the Australian market leading trends, so they will use what works here for the rest of the world.

But the good news is, for the Australian ute-buying public, is that the Nissan Navara should be firmly back on the list. The solid interior and good driveline are still there, and now that coil-sprung rear end has been sorted out, it’s a genuine contender against the competition once again.

2018 Nissan Navara Prices (MSRP)

Single Cab

DX 4×4                 6MT   Cab Chassis          $31,990

RX 4×2                 6MT   Cab Chassis          $25,990

RX 4×4                 6MT   Cab Chassis          $32,990

RX 4×4                 7AT    Cab Chassis          $35,490

 

King Cab

RX 4×2                 6MT   Cab Chassis          $28,490

RX 4×4                 6MT   Cab Chassis          $35,490

RX 4×4                 6MT   Pickup                   $37,290    (+$300)

ST 4×4                 6MT   Pickup                    $43,990

ST 4×4                 7AT    Pickup                    $46,490

ST-X 4×4            6MT   Pickup                     $49,990

ST-X 4×4             7AT    Pickup                     $52,490*

* Leather accented seats + driver’s power + front heated (Option on ST-X 4×4 7AT)    $1,500

Dual Cab

RX 4×2                 6MT   Pickup                   $33,490    (+$500)

RX 4×2                 7AT    Pickup                   $35,990    (+$500)

ST 4×2                 6MT   Pickup                    $40,190    (+$200)

ST 4×2                 7AT    Pickup                    $42,690    (+$200)

ST-X 4×2            6MT   Pickup                    $44,990*

ST-X 4×2             7AT    Pickup                    $47,490*

* Leather accented seats + driver’s power + front heated (Option on ST-X 4×2 6MT/7AT)    $1,500

RX 4×4                 6MT   Cab Chassis          $38,490

RX 4×4                 7AT    Cab Chassis          $40,990

RX 4×4                 7AT    Pickup                   $42,990     (+$500)

SL 4×4                  6MT   Pickup                   $43,990

SL 4×4                  7AT    Pickup                   $46,490

ST 4×4                 6MT   Pickup                    $47,190    (+$200)

ST 4×4                 7AT    Pickup                    $49,690    (+$200)

ST-X 4×4             6MT   Pickup                   $51,990*

ST-X 4×4              7AT    Pickup                  $54,490*

* Leather seats + driver’s power + front heated (Option on ST-X 4×4 6MT/7AT)    $1,500

* Sunroof (Option on ST-X 4×4 6MT/7AT)    $1,000

23 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • I own a 2012 D40 2.5 manual 4×4 which has 160,000km on it and it has been faultless. I tow alot, had no clutch issues only replacing front brake pads in that time. It’s serviced on the mark and oil and filter every 5,000km .No timing chain noise,no nothing .Goes like mad I have almost doubled the legal limit in it just wanting to see how fast it would go. Been used as a tractor to tow a spreader on the farm and basically driven like someone else stole it.Faultless!
    I know that alot of the other utes have major problems with them as I work in the motor trade.I have just ordered a new np300 and can’t wait. Anyone want to buy a D40?

  • We have a d40 bought new, never again, multiple clutches replaced, back springs gone, faulty exhaust sensor was recalled headache after headache. Nissan denied all responsibilty although reading up on reviews we are not the only ones with the same problems…stay away from the lemons!!

  • On my 2nd np300 st, the first chassis bent towing my camper. The 2nd when I tow, the chassis flexes 5mm. This I mean the gap between canopy and cab opens up, us this normal.?

    • my np300 St has two bent and cracked chassis rails, fixed i dont thinks so nissan has wiped their hands of this with the car still in warranty, who else has the problem time to start getting everyone together to fight this , my car is now undriveable and uninsurable

  • The Nissan D40 was a bomb. After several clutches and other minor faults I would never buy another Nissan. Have mates who have 3lt Patrols of which the majority have engines that have blown up and most of them just out of warranty. Nissan were very slack and little support through their warranty network. Should have been a recall on the Patrols due to the large amount of blown motors and also the D40 utes with the clutch issues. Talked to 13 0wners in a row with manual gearboxes and 12 have had to replace clutches and in two instances on their 3rd clutch. Mechanics say the clutch was to light for the vehicle. Nissan never did a recall on this. Still an ongoing issue. Will never buy a Nissan vehicle again.

  • Who buys a Ute or 4b for work or play and leaves the standard suspension in it? I’ve had my np300 st-x for about a year and a half now and upgraded the suspension (and fitted barwork) not long after buying the Ute. I’ve towed 2t caravans and cars and an 80 series cruiser on floats behind the Ute and it’s been brilliant. It’s also awesome off road even though I’m used to an old patrol that’s like a monster truck by comparison. The main reason I bought this Ute over all the others was due to it riding so much better compared to the old horse and cart setups in every other make. And the small engine has plenty of grunt for what I do. I’m preparing to do a Simpson desert trip in a few months and have no doubt it will eat it up. Only issue I’ve had? No outside temp display. That’s it. ?

  • This is my 3rd Nissan ute all top of the range,an I would not buy another,due to the rear springs to soft for towing,had to do upgrades on all 3 Utes.1 ute bent the chassis,no more the 1/2ton in back an hit a dip in road.And finally aircon giving up 6mths out of warranty in the new ute ,an the dealership would not discus the matter to fix it.So now have changed to another brand of vechile.

  • Didn’t like it at all in 2016 when I looked, bought the Triton instead which has been brilliant. Its good to see them fix their mistakes but really does it not show how little respect the have for their Australian market. Sorry the horse has bolted.

    When is this publication going to take serious look at the Mitsubishi Triton, a honest a workhorse and then some if there ever was one, instead of concentrating on a manufacturer who clearly took a lot of people and their cash for suckers.

  • if you thonk a ute no matter what it is is going to carry a decent load with standard suspension . wake up to yourselves . its been going onfor years . its called suspension upgrade . leaf or coil it will never change . this is coming from experience in the trade. ive sern this over and over again . look into it no matter what you drive. these so called experts in driving all these new models need for one experience and secondly common sense.

  • Hi All.
    Where i live in lake macquarie nsw,there would be 50 np300.
    Only 2 of these are used for work,Most of us love the car ride,
    If the new one rides like a ute,Looks like i will be buying a suv next .
    Regards.
    John Wallace.

  • Was looking at an ST Dual Cab ute but decided against it because of all the reviews on the rear suspension. As a work ute constantly carrying a load, the suspension was an issue. Nissan have been making utes for years and they took a big backward step with the coils. Now they close the gate after the horse has bolted. I bought an Amarok 6 weeks ago. I wonder how many sales they lost and how long will it take to reinstate their reputation.

  • I bought the original STX NP300 when it hit the market and was very disappointed. Nissan claimed to test over 1 million km to get this new rig sorted – well, the sales sorted that comment up. Other areas in this car were also well short of the mark even down to no outside temp gauge even though there was an adjustment in the media screen for it?????? The family friendly STX and the child seat restraints used – seriously, how was this acceptable. 2 years of ownership and not 1 software / firmware upgrade.
    Hence I sold it and moved onto better vehicles

  • Nissan has proven itself to be a manufacturer that makes dumb design and strategic decisions, does not listen to its customer base, inflicts repeated injury upon itself as a brand and in this case left it to the unsuspecting buying public to do their basic Research and Development. They have now left their recent buyers holding an unpopular and flawed vehicle. The Australian ute buyer should think very hard before supporting this brand.

  • Great that Nissan are perfecting a rear coil spring system. I just hope they are also strengthening the chassis. They have the worst reputation for bending chassis with loaded trays on dual cabs, otherwise a good vehicle and the V6D is popular

  • My first Nissan was the D40 ST-X, I currently have the STX-550 which is STILL the most powerful dual cab ute in Aust. I think the new 2018 Amarok now as the same Torq, but slightly less kw’s. Anyway I’m due to upgrade at the end of this year, I was really hoping to upgrade to an NP300 with the V6 TD…. All they done is played with the rear suspension. I think it’s time to drop try something else.

  • V6 turbo diesel 2014 towing 23foot caravan with a leg in the air best car I have ever driven bring back V6 and keep ahead of the rest.
    Ronj

  • I think this is a timely fix. It will really only be properly fixed when they bring back a V6 TD though. Amazing engine in my D40 and I am keeping it.

  • Good to see Nissan getting their ute sorted. Hopefully it will encourage other ute makers to follow suit with improved suspension and brake setups as well. When will they embrace air bag suspension. Trucks have proven its worth for years.

Get the latest 4X4 updates

Download Our Apps