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2017’s most popular 4x4s: Nissan Navara report card

By Fraser Stronach, 12 Aug 2017 Reviews

Nissan Navara Report Card main

#6: Nissan has rejigged the NP300 into the D23 Series II, but will it help flagging sales?

THE Navara may be in the top-ten best sellers, but its year-on-year sales have fallen in what is otherwise a rising market.

Compared to 2016, sales so far in 2017 are down nearly eight per cent, making the Navara the worst performer in the top ten.

 Read more of 4X4's 2017 Most Popular Report Cards

No doubt, Nissan would have been hoping for more from its new-generation ute, given the previous-generation Navara D40 was second only to the all-conquering Hilux as recently as four years ago.

Arriving in 2015 and marketed as the NP300 (but known internally as the D23) this new Navara departed from conventional ute practice via its bi-turbo-diesel, seven-speed automatic and by using coil rather than leaf springs for the rear axle on most models.

Nissan Navara offroadDespite this, Nissan matched the best in class with its 3500kg tow rating claim, a claim we subsequently proved to be well wide of the mark in terms of the chassis’ ability to tow that much, or indeed carry the maximum payload in the tub, even if the engine had the grunt to get the job done. Making matters worse, the Navara NP300 didn’t feel all that flash when unladen, either, with neither a notably comfortable ride nor a good fore-and-aft suspension balance.

Following indifferent sales and negative customer feedback, Nissan headed back to the drawing board to produce the Series II model for 2017, bringing a suspension revamp, spec and equipment changes, and the addition of a new work-spec model (the SL) with the bi-turbo engine and rear coils.

Despite claiming the suspension revamp was nothing more than damper recalibration, the Series II Navara feels noticeably better behaved on road, with a new and much more pleasing feel to the way it steers and handles.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that we have yet to do a maximum load or tow test on the Series II, so watch this space.

2017 (to June): 5439
2016 (to June): 5904
Change: -7.9%

Powertrain: B
On-road: B
Off-road: D
Cabin & Equipment: B
Towing & Practicality: See Text
Final word: Series II is better on-road, but questions linger off-road.

*Scored against class competitors. A= Excellent. B= Very Good. C= Good. D= Fair. E= Poor. F= Fail.