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The Nissan Navara will make your wife happy you bought it

The refreshed pickup impresses in the ride-quality department

So...Aspen Pearl White or this Stealth Pearl Gray? PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

Unless you live the farm life, frequent the mountains, or haul stuff every so often, do you really need a pickup truck? Let’s not even mention the harsh ride that comes with it. I remember driving a popular truck along EDSA with its awfully jiggly ride with my wife, and being asked by her: “How long do you have this pickup?” An expression of her disapproval right there—to think she was normally okay with the loaners I took home. She actually likes pickups, just not that one. She likes another rival pickup given its relatively smooth ride.

So what about the Nissan Navara? With coil springs as its party trick, along with Zero Gravity seats for better comfort, this pickup should be easy persuasion. Okay, so the rear suspension is a big factor as to why the Navara is labeled as a lifestyle pickup. But how often will you be carrying a heavy load?

On top of how it rides, I like how the Navara looks. Muscular bulges emphasize its capability. Its beefy appearance is enhanced by aerodynamic efficiency, with a low roof and a neat rear spoiler. If you’re going to do something, you might as well look good, right?

These were my thoughts on the Navara upon seeing it in the metal initially and after my first test drive seven years ago. So what about this updated version?

The new face should turn a lot of heads at the parking lot. PHOTOS BY JASON DELA CRUZ

With the lifestyle stakes a level higher with such rivals as the Ford Ranger Raptor, the Toyota Hilux Conquest, and the Mitsubishi Strada Athlete, Nissan responds with its top-of-the-range Navara Pro-4X.

Exterior-wise, the refresh is apparent. The Titan-inspired grille is imposing, extending past the hood line. As a result, the mid-section of the hood is now taller. Quad headlights and split daytime running lights make the new truck sharper-looking. Meanwhile, black alloy wheels complement the black accents on the Pro-4X. I do get the red ‘Nissan’ badging—I just think the red tow-hook covers and the accents on the wheel arches are a bit much. The rear spoiler is now integrated for a seamless appearance. Matching that is ‘Navara’ stamped at the bottom of the tailgate for a tougher look. The taillights have also been redesigned.

My demo unit (lent by Nissan Cebu Central) is finished in Stealth Pearl Gray, which I’m told has a queue unlike Aspen Pearl White, Fiery Red and Galaxy Black.

Do you like a sporty-looking steering wheel for a pickup truck? PHOTOS BY JASON DELA CRUZ

There’s a fair amount of updates on the inside as well. The steering wheel is obviously GT-R inspired. Along with the red ‘Nissan’ lettering, it channels the brand’s sporty character into this truck. Form does follow function with the new wheel. Steering is more engaging and responsive. On a rainy afternoon up the mountains along a long stretch with tight turns, sweeping curves, and loose dirt, the Navara felt livelier compared to previous experiences. The leather-wrapped Zero Gravity seats mimic the exterior styling. I don’t mind the red stitching to match the red ‘Nissan’ lettering. Just like some of the red accents outside, however, I find the Pro-4X embroidery over the top.

The prominent Pro-4X embroideries will always remind you of the top variant you're lucky to own. PHOTOS BY JASON DELA CRUZ

Making life easier is the Nissan Intelligent Mobility system. Around View Monitor is a welcome convenience. The 360° camera makes it easy to negotiate tight spaces like a curb or a corner on a narrow street. Other features include forward collision, blind-spot warning, and lane-departure warning.

While the Navara has been improved inside and out, the familiar YD25 has been kept. The 2.5-liter turbodiesel still delivers 187hp and 450Nm.

The tried-and-tested YD25 turbodiesel continues to serve under the hood. PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

Although it’s easy to please guys when it comes to trucks, it’s not as straightforward with women. Sampling various pickups with my wife as my primary passenger, I understand ride quality is of importance. Believe me, guys, your partner will give you good feedback. Rear coil springs and seats designed for better comfort make the Navara justifiable. She does like it, while my mom says she feels cocooned in the cabin. Now, the question to myself is: Would I choose the Pro-4X or go with the VL?

Whatever the choice is, one thing is clear: The new Nissan Navara sends a strong message to its rivals.

Jason Dela Cruz

Jason is a veteran member of the motoring community, having worked as an automotive journalist and a car industry executive. He is now based in Cebu, where the car culture is vibrant.