A legit stud in the segment

Published October 8, 2021, 10:01 AM

by Eric R. Tipan

2021 Nissan Navara Pro-4x

Believe it or not, this isn’t even an all-new model and yet the Navara Pro-4x is turning heads and has people raving about how great it is, and to think it’s only been in the market for all of seven months.

In the week that I had it I’ve already heard good things. A doctor told me he heard it’s comfortable (for a pickup) and a businessman commented on how beautiful the color was. So, word of mouth is definitely good and this Stealth Pearl Gray hue (exclusive to this variant) really makes it stand out. I concur with both points, but there’s more to this eight-year old, third-generation truck than just comfort and color.

Let me start with the front fascia. Nissan calls it ‘renewed’ instead of facelifted, which is actually good because the latter always makes me think nip and tuck. Instead of chrome, the grille is matte black and now comes with the ‘interlock’ design that’s seen on the Titan (Nissan full-sized pickup available in other markets). Right below the logo, which sports the brand name in bright orange, is a newly installed radar for the recently added safety features, but more on that later.

The headlamps debut a quad-bulb design and also come bordered by interlocking, L-shaped daytime running lights à la the grille, so it’s immediately obvious there’s a uniform look being followed.

Then there are more orange highlights, two on the front underbody garnish and on each of the fender cladding; all very subtle touches but which deliver a terrific aesthetic effect.

It gets LED fog lamps, black roof rails, 17-inch wheels (surprisingly smaller than other Navara models) with all-terrain tires, a more pronounced tailgate lip, and LED-type taillights.

For a commercial vehicle, the whole exterior is absolutely stunning. Accents are well placed, color combos are perfectly matched, there’s high attention to detail (even the wheels are branded with the orange Nissan), and the reshaped front bumper is, as the kids say, lit.

Having the Intelligent Key Switch allowed me to just click the button on the glossy black door handles to unlock (and lock) the vehicle. The cockpit barely changed. The dashboard is the same, including the shape of the vents, but the silver trim bordering the eight-inch touchscreen audio system has been blacked out. The automatic dual-zone climate control interface is new, and the instrument meter cluster now uses a high contrast seven-inch display.

Drivers will love the Zero Gravity-type leather front seats. Nissan says these are supposed to “alleviate fatigue.” Unfortunately, I didn’t drive long enough to actually test them. I must say they are very soft and plush without being very thick and bulky. It is odd though that for a top-of-the-line trim, seats are only manually adjustable. There’s a drop-down armrest with cupholders in the second row, three headrests, and dedicated air vents as well.

Interior space is typical, not cramped and with just enough on top and around the elbows and knees to make it feel roomy.

Save for the EL, all Navaras have a six-speaker system (with two tweeters) which is enough to fill up the cabin with your favorite tunes but it won’t impress any audiophile. It comes with four USB ports, one in front, two in the center console, and one in the rear; and a whopping 10 cup/bottle holders. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth are standard.

It uses the same engine across the line: a 2.5L turbo diesel with 190 PS and 450 Nm of torque. That may not look like much but it’s managed very well by its seven-speed automatic transmission. There’s a lot of kick per gear because of the high gear ratios. As an example, its gear ratio of 4.88:1 (good for towing) in first is higher than most of its competitors.

Even when super laden, acceleration is brisk. While the steering feedback is true to size, the drive feels light because of the torque-y and responsive drive. And even with an increased payload capacity (1.1 metric tons), the slightly raised bed didn’t slump with the weight it carried.

Plus, with the bed loaded, the ride is almost sedan-like as the suspension settles down but even with just four passengers, it’s not as stiff due to its multi-link suspension that’s been enhanced with dual rate coil springs to absorb minor ripples while increasing grip.

Remember the radar up front, here’s what it’s for. First, the Intelligent Around-View Monitor or IAVM is now also capable of ‘spotting’ for the driver in off-road situations using four ultra-wide-angle, high-definition cameras and a sophisticated image processing unit. Then it also feeds data to the following systems, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Driver Alertness, Intelligent Lane Intervention Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, Blind Spot Warning, and even Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

A total hunk of a truck priced at P1.746 million, the Navara Pro-4x epitomizes what it means to be a stud. It’s attractive, athletic, and gifted with Nissan’s latest safety and off-road systems that would make you look like a pro on any type of terrain.