2021 Nissan Navara PRO-4X off-road review
Our off-road review of the 2021 Nissan Navara PRO-4X, including price, specs, interior, off-road performance, safety and score.
Nissan’s Navara has recently undergone an overhaul and while not major in terms of alterations to the underlying chassis, it has introduced better technology and upgraded safety gear, some minor revisions to the rear of the chassis, as well as a more contemporary and bluff appearance.
That brings an objectively nicer looking ute with better mod cons, much better safety credentials, and an increased payload on the practical side of things, but there’s also one big addition that comes in the form of the flagship PRO-4X ute.
This is the bold and out there model inspired by the Titan flagship pick-up truck in the US, and it brings things like black alloys, all-terrain tyres, a unique sports bar and PRO-4X stickers and trims. Inevitably, this will undergo further modifications at Premcar in Melbourne to Warrior specification that ups off-road cred a lot… but those mods are not for everyone and bring additional cost. So what about the stock PRO-4X, just how good is it off-road?
We’ve taken one to Werribee 4×4 to give it a test on a slightly wet and boggy winter day. This 4×4 park consists of various challenges from water crossings to steep gradients. What you find here covers most of what intermediate 4×4 tracks will throw at you, and this is about the sweet spot for anyone looking at buying a stock tough ute on the showroom floor for both urban duties and going out into the bush.
What does it have and what does it cost?
The standard dual-cab PRO-4X is priced from $59,790 plus on-road costs with a six-speed manual or $61,290 with a seven-speed auto. This is the same 2.3L drivetrain as before. Standard equipment on the Navara PRO-4X includes 17-inch black alloy wheels with 255/65 Yokohama Geolander all-terrain tyres, C-Shaped LED headlights, 8.0-inch infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 360-degree cameras and off-roading cameras, leather interior trim with unique PRO-4X highlights, unique sports bars, side steps, cargo rails in the tub and plenty of new safety gear: autonomous emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure, blind-spot warning, trailer-sway control, lane-departure intervention and a tyre pressure monitor system.
What’s the interior like?
It is a familiar design overall, but Nissan has gone to town with the PRO-4X by distinguishing it above any other model. The seats have leather stitched with a quilt pattern and the PRO-4X highlights pop out. The seats themselves are supportive and comfortable although there’s no electric adjustment and the steering is tilt-only; this six-foot frame found a comfortable seating position easily enough.
In the back, the seats are pretty ergonomic for a ute and the foot space is decent – fine for adults and practical with access to one USB port. The rear window also features an electric sliding port that opens up and could be useful for sliding in a beach rod, running a 12v to a car fridge (there’s no plug in the tray) or simply checking on the dog.
Upfront, there are another two USB ports that provide Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connection to the 8.0-inch touchscreen. The screen is bright and crisp and even in glary conditions, it is clearly visible. The best feature, however, is the 360-degree cameras that can now be selected in split-screen mode and are useful for offroading, including a look at the ground up front or along the side of the car. There’s a smaller digital dash in the cluster for driving information too.
What’s it like for work?
The tray is slightly higher which increase holding capacity and a rear step in the bumper makes stepping up easier. The tailgate itself also drops against friction for soft opening thanks to a simple pan rod in the hinge. It works well, and while we’re at it, Nissan has also pressed ‘NAVARA’ into the tailgate which is better than using stickers.
In the tray is Nissan’s Intelli-track cargo rail system and we found it quite fast to use, with twist rings to simply undo and slide the hooks along. The increased payload capacity to 1004kg is a boon too (thanks to a stronger rear axle) and new Navara owners gain an improvement in practicality. Braked towing capacity remains 3500kg.
Finally, there’s that new sports bar which is bulky but adds some visual impact to the rear.
What’s it like off-road?
Ground clearance: 224mm
Wading depth: 600mm
Approach angle: 32 degrees
Breakover: 23 degrees
Departure angle: 20 degrees
Nissan’s Navara PRO-4X uses a 2.3-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine to produce the 140kW and 450Nm via a six-speed manual or seven-speed auto. The auto we are testing helps keep fuel consumption frugal at around 8.0L/100km and is a solid unit. Performance from the engine is fine around town and also in the bush, becoming a little more leisurely once you load over a tonne in the back or on a trailer.
Connected to the transmission is a part-time 4×4 system with four high and low, and it requires selecting low range when standing still in neutral. The drive selection is confirmed on the dash, along with the rear differential lock when engaged.
Given the muddy conditions we were not sure how well the Navara PRO-4X’s good but not very aggressive all-terrain tyres would handle the muck that was inevitably stuck in them, but we actually never once had to recover. The point of these tyres is a blend of on and off-road performance, so if you’re the urban tradie type or even do a bit of gravel driving these tyres provide a good blend of comfort, low noise and on-road handling. Off-road, we think they do well too, though keen explorers will want to swap them over.
On steep hills, including a sealed 60-degree ramp, traction was strong. The rear differential lock helps in gravelly, loose rock ascents and electronic traction control helps the front wheels to drag the ute along. A couple of moments required a prod of throttle to sharpen response from the TRC and in turn, move along a bit quicker, but we never found ourselves stuck looking for a different route up. A climb up over some small logs also showed that the coil-sprung rear, which adds a layer of compliance uncommon in utes, helped keep the tyres in contact on the ground rather than tending toward being rigid.
Through various water crossings, traction and stability were fine, and a steady slow pace creates a nice bow wave in front. The most demanding crossing we had was near the 600mm max wading depth (also 600mm with the Nissan snorkel accessory item fitted) and up a steep but well-packed gravel exit, but it was no issue for traction once coming out of the slightly muddy base.
The ground clearance is the limiting factor once the tracks get gnarly though this is about the point when the PRO-4X warrior steps in, with a 44mm total lift and much more capable tyres.
That said, on what can be a tricky course that catches us out sometimes, we failed to get stuck. Even when ploughing through a 500mm deep mud hole where we did stop moving forward… the Navara shifted itself out backwards without much fuss and onwards we went.
As a weekend warrior, the PRO-4X is a solid choice, with a nice interior that has good comfortable seating and the mod cons you want. It is also safer than before and AEB brings it in line with some other utes. About all that was missing for us is a 12volt plug in the tray for a camping fridge, though a cable could be passed through the rear window in a pinch. And for those who want a full-time warrior, the answer for that is coming pretty soon.