Nissan has pulled the wraps off its 2021 Navara mid-size LCV, which will arrive in local dealers in the first quarter of next year.
In what is a mid-life update for the one-tonne ute, the changes centre on a new front end designed to give the Nav a bigger and bolder look with a higher bonnet line, bold ‘Interlock’ radiator grille, LED headlights, and associated front bumper.
The cargo tub height has been raised 20mm and straightened out as well, to create a straight line from front to back.
“While pick-up customers want their new car to look fresh and impressive, they do not let us sacrifice functionality in the name of style,” explained Ken Lee, Senior Design Director for pickups and frame SUVs.
“Equipped with the latest advanced technologies the new model features a very recognisable, iconic look, but it is now more imposing in nature with its high command structure, new interlocking frame grille and new high-tech, squared C-shaped headlamps,” he said.
Additional safety tech is also included in the 2021 Navara to meet the specs of other fresh utes on the market; but as a mid-life update, the 2021 car will retain its five-Star ANCAP safety rating on the old testing criteria, unlike the latest Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 which have been graded under the newer, tougher testing regime.
Safety kit includes AEB, radar cruise control, trailer sway control, rear cross traffic alert, 360-degree cameras, lane departure warning, lane intervention, and blind spot warnings, among its dings and buzzers.
Mechanically the Navara carries over its unchanged 2.3-litre diesel engine with the choice of single and bi-turbo forced induction, depending on the model variant. Likewise, there’s the 5-link coil spring rear suspension or traditional leaf springs, depending on the chosen variant.
A new steering rack has been fitted to improve the feel at the tiller, something that had been criticised in the current generation Nav.
The chassis and suspension remain primarily unchanged, but a heavier rated rear axle has been fitted to increase payload on 4x4 models. This is designed to lift the payload by approximately 100kg to provide up to 1200kg on all models. However, actual figures have yet to be figured out while the planning team still settle on final specification.
The model range will be capped by the new Pro-4X grade, which is mainly a styling package but includes leather seats and all the fruit. This will take over from the N-Trek specification.
Dropping back through the line-up you’ll find STX and SL specs in 4x4 and 4x2 drivelines; double-cab extra-cab and single cab configurations; and tub or cab-chassis models. The full line-up and pricing will be available closer to the product release.
The Australian-developed N-Trek Warrior model which is decisively the best driving variant in the current Navara range is currently in design planning and yet to be confirmed. However, it’s a fair bet it will be back. A new front bumper design will be needed for the Warrior to integrate into the redesigned front-end grille and sheetmetal.
Nissan has a range of Australian designed and tested genuine accessories ready for the 2021 model including full and loopless steel and alloy front bars – each designed to work seamlessly with the radar and cameras of the safety systems – underbody protection, roof racks and an air-intake snorkel.
The current Navara hasn’t enjoyed the success its previous models experienced, and it’s outsold by the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton and, up to September, even the old Holden Colorado.
Nissan will be hoping to win back some sales when it arrives early next year, but it will be up against some stiff competition in the ute class with the aforementioned new BT-50 and D-MAX and a refreshed Hilux already on sale. A new Ford Ranger won’t be due until later in 2021.