Designed, developed and engineered in Australia, is the 2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior a shortcut into off-road adventures?
2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior Specifications
Price $65,990+ORC (auto) Safety five star (2015) Warranty five-years, unlimited kilometres Service Schedule 12 months or 20,000km Engine 2.3-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel Transmission seven-speed automatic Power 140kW at 3750rpm Torque 450Nm from 1500-2500rpm Dimensions 5385mm long 1920mm wide 1895mm high 3150mm wheelbase 980mm front overhang 1255mm rear overhang Ground b 268mm claimed (240mm measured) Angles 35 degrees approach 27.5 degrees breakover 19 degrees departure Spare full-size alloy underslung Fuel Tank 80L Thirst 7.7L/100km claimed combined
Built not bought. That’s usually a badge of honour amongst four wheel drivers. The idea that they’ve gone and bought a base vehicle and built it with their own two hands to suit their own needs. But there are those looking for a starting point with some of the hard work already done for them. Just look at things like the Ranger Raptor, although that’s less of a starting point rig than, say, the vehicle we’re looking at today.
More accurate would be Toyota’s Rugged and Rugged X variants and so on. Dual-cab 4x4s are the hottest of property right now. So, it comes as no surprise that Nissan decided to walk somewhere between the two with its special edition Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior. The idea, we were told, was that it would be, out of the box, perfect for rough road adventures and boast the sort of accessories that many buyers plump for via the aftermarket.
The catch, Nissan was hoping, was that punters would see its product as being a complete unit; designed from the beginning to be what it is, if you catch my drift. And there were plenty of reviews at the time gushing over the Warrior, suggesting it was a worthy competitor to the Ford Ranger Raptor. Wrong-ity wrong.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I reckon Nissan Australia is to be commended for what it’s done with the Warrior and for engaging Premcar to do the work. I mean, it’s a conservative car maker that’s dipped a toe into the world of the aftermarket.
But let’s not stretch the truth on what the Warrior is…it’s got a bit of a lift, steel bars front and rear and a light bar. The light-truck, all-terrain tyres are more for highway than byways, so… That brings me back to my original question, is this thing a shortcut to rough road adventures or… a waste of money? Too harsh? But that’s the question punters need to ask themselves and not just of the Warrior, so put the keyboard away, but of any of these ‘built up’ factory offerings. That’s exactly the process that our Robert Pepper is going through at the moment with his process for choosing a new ute which you can read about here.
What is the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior?
The Warrior has been around for awhile now so there’s probably little point going into the back story. But, in a nutshell the thing is based off the Navara N-Trek variant which is a cosmetic enhancement of the ST-X variant.
The Warrior has been created by local engineering outfit, Premcar, which is made up of ex-Tickford and Prodrive staff, all super experienced people. They take an ST-X that’s had the N-Trek treatment and then make their changes.
These changes start with the tyres – the ST-X/N-Trek runs 255/60 R18s road-oriented rubber while the Warrior runs 275/70 R17 Cooper AT3 light-truck tyres. These have an overall diameter 32.2 inches (making them 53mm taller and 20mm wider than the tyres on the ST-X). And the offset has been changed from +45 to +30 and the tyres are 20mm wider than the rubber on the ST-X. Flared arches are fitted to handle the extra width. The wider wheels, offset, etc has pushed the turning circle from 12.4m to 12.7m. The Warrior sits 40mm higher than a standard Navara (27mm of which is from the tyres). The Tenneco springs and Monroe dampers add 13mm of lift.
The plastic bumpers have been swapped for steel ones at the front (not winch compatible) and the back. The rear departure angle has been ruined by the new towbar which drops down underneath the bigger full-size alloy. There’s a bash plate under the front and a lightbar on the front bumper. And that’s it. Sort of. Things like the ABS and speedo have all been recalibrated to handle the changes with wheels and tyres, etc. But Nissan left the old, rubbish side steps on the thing. Sigh. Oh, there are also some graphics and, of course, the N-Trek fripperies. But, mechanically speaking it’s just wheels, tyres, bumpers, springs and dampers, although the electronics adjustment and the factory warranty can’t be ignored.
What’s the interior of the Navara N-Trek Warrior like?
Essentially it’s the same interior as the one in the N-Trek variant. That means, contrast orange stitching and accents around the place. As well as leather seats. To be fair, the cabin feels basic compared to the likes of the new Isuzu D-Max or Ford Ranger but looks aren’t always everything. Sadly, the functionality isn’t much chop in here.
There are lots of small buttons and the layout of the dash is such that the controls are hard to use on the move and can be a little fiddly when stationary too. But I’m moaning. Thanks Apple and Android connectivity you can sidestep the native infotainment and run an interface you’re more familiar with.
It’s not all bad. There are quite a few storage spots in the front of the Warrior although the glovebox is a little too small for storing anything other than the owner’s manual.
The front seats are comfortable enough, if a little short in the seat base for those with long legs and there’s not a lot of side support for when you’re rattling around off-road. The powered adjust for the driver’s seat means you’ll be able to get a comfortable driving position even if the steering wheel is tilt-only adjust.
The back seats are okay for kids and teens but not overly roomy for adults and the seatbelt feels like it’s about an inch too low. The rear seats don’t fold forward but there is storage beneath the flip-up seat base. There are rear air vents but no USB outlets and there’s a powered rear window…
What’s the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior like to drive?
Under the bonnet is Nissan’s 2.3-litre twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine which makes 140kW at 3750rpm and 450Nm of torque from 1500-2500rpm. This is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission (a manual is available but I’ve not driven one).
Given the Warrior weighs 200kg more than an ST-X it’s a shame there isn’t a little more poke. That’s not to say it feels sluggish, as such, but driven back to back with the lighter ST-X or even the regular N-Trek variant and the Warrior wouldn’t feel as enthusiastic. Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.7L/100km but given the extra weight of the Warrior you won’t get near that, and in our week of testing we returned 9.5L/100km based on 500km of mixed driving.
As it is, it’s not too bad and, unladen, the transmission does a good job of whipping through the gears quickly allowing you to hustle the Warrior along at a fair clip. But that’s in a straight line, throw some corners at the Warrior or some undulating terrain causing you to adjust the throttle to stick to the speed limit, and the transmission becomes clumsy, hunting or holding gears too long. And don’t bother trying to use the manual shift mode because it marches to its own beat.
Nissan finally sorted out the ride with the third-update to the Navara and that’s what the Warrior is based on, although it’s, of course, running different springs and dampers, wheels and tyres. What I’m trying to say is that the Navara was already comfortable and the Warrior is even better. Unladen there are few dual-cab utes out there that ride as well as the Warrior and it soaks up lumps and bumps in the road without bouncing around and there’s none of the hard judder you get from unladen leaf-sprung utes.
The taller, stronger tyres no doubt help with the ride but in the wet you’ll still need to be careful. Like any part-time 4×4 dual-cab ute it doesn’t take much to light up the back end in the wet…and the traction control doesn’t mess around, giving you a good slap for being silly. It’s one of the more aggressive traction controls we’ve experienced.
Onto dirt and the Warrior’s excellent on-road ride and handling continue with good grip and excellent bump control. Switching to 4×4 high range is a simple twist of the dial but you’ll need to be stopped and in Neutral to shift into low-range.
Despite the claims of 268mm of ground clearance there’s really only 240mm of clearance (measured from the ground to the bottom of the diff pumpkin) but, even so, 240mm for a factory dual-cab is very good.
In rougher terrain, the Warrior is a mixed bag in that while things like hill descent control (which works down to 2km/h) works with the rear diff lock engaged, the throttle pedal is super dull feeling meaning you tend to over-rev the thing in technical terrain. Then there’s the gearbox which becomes very clumsy when off-road in low range which doesn’t show much rhyme nor reason to how it behaves and, as on the road, don’t bother using the manual mode off-road as it won’t allow you to select the gear you want whether you’re in the right rev range for that gear or not.
The brake traction control when off-road isn’t too bad but it needs momentum to work, meaning from a standing start when you spin a wheel it’ll take a moment to grab the wheel and get you moving forward. It’s not as good as the systems in either a D-Max, Ford Ranger or HiLux. And it doesn’t seem to work on the front end when the rear diff lock is engaged, so you’ll need to judge your situation and work out whether you should go with the electronics alone, although in some cross-axle situations the rear diff lock will be of more use than the electronics.
When it comes to towing the Warrior may not be as well setup as a regular Navara. See, Premcar had to work out how to get the towbar to fit around the larger full-size spare, etc and while the workmanship on the angled towbar is excellent, the solution drastically reduces the departure angle to just 19 degrees (down from 28 degrees) which will be a pain for those towing off-road.
Now, I didn’t get the chance to tow anything with the Warrior while I had it for the week but having towed with Navaras before and having spoken to our Robert Pepper who has towed with the Warrior, it’s a good platform with plenty of grunt for towing. But, like all of these dual-cabs with their claimed 3500kg braked towing limits, the devil is in the detail.
The first thing that jumps out is the fact the Warrior’s towball download isn’t the expected 10% of the braked towing capacity (3500kg) which would be 350kg. Instead, it’s 300kg. And things get confusing when you read through the fine print, see, Nissan claims that for a towball download of 100kg you should reduce the GVM and payload by 130kg (not just the 100kg), for 200kg towball download you need to reduce by 280kg and if you’ve got a 300kg towball download then you need to reduce the GVM and payload by 410kg.
Now we know that, let’s do some math. The Warrior’s GVM is 2910kg and the tare weight is 2186kg. To get you payload you subtract the tare from the GVM, so, 2910kg – 2186kg and that equals 724kg. That should be enough for a family of four and their gear, just, but that’s without accounting for extra mods like an awning, lights and more. But, if you’re going to be towing a trailer with a towball download of 300kg, you need to reduce the payload by 410kg, remember, leaving you with just 314kg of payload (724kg – 410kg).
But that doesn’t take into account the GCM of the vehicle and trailer. This is only 5910kg, so, say you’re towing a 3500kg trailer you’re left with 2410kg. That’s the heaviest the Warrior can weigh while towing 3500kg. Subtract the tare weight of 2186kg from that and you’re left with a payload of 224kg. Always make sure you crunch the numbers when it comes to towing to make sure the vehicle you’re looking at can tow what you want it to tow. For the Warrior we’d be suggesting a trailer weight of around 2000kg would be better as it’ll give you more payload and the Warrior will make short work of towing that sort of weight.
What about price, safety and ownership?
The Navara N-Trek Warrior is almost $10k more than the regular N-Trek lists for ($9890 before drive-away costs). Yep, the N-Trek Warrior sells from $65,900+ORCs (auto), the regular N-Trek, which is just cosmetic tweaks over the ST-X sells from $59,300+ORCs (auto) and the ST-X from $56,100+ORC (auto). The manual version of these vehicles will be a little cheaper. So the Warrior costs a lot for its relatively minor modifications.
In terms of safety, the Warrior, and the rest of the Navara range are under-done. It clings to a five-star rating awarded back in 2015 but lacks the active safety features now standard on key competitors. It does, however, have a 360-degree camera.
The Warrior gets a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty with scheduled servicing at 12 months or 20,000km.