Much like in 2015, 2021 is seeing the so-called truck wars get re-ignited with many automakers fielding new entries in the class. In recent years, the popularity of pick-up trucks has risen thanks largely to the evolution of a vehicle once meant for rugged endeavors into something more practical, more comfortable, and more capable for everyday driving.
6 years ago, it was Nissan Philippines that started the pick-up truck wars (and officially coined the term for our market too) when they launched the all-new Navara, and now they want to do so again. But instead of a new generation vehicle, they have an enhanced version of the same generation model with a new look and a long list of upgrades and features, particularly with safety.
There are 8 variants spread out amongst 6 distinct Navara grades. All models are double cabs and have been restyled with a new and more aggressive-looking front clip, a much larger front grille, a new headlight design, a new bumper design, a new plastic skid plate, and a new hood that was shaped based on customer feedback for enhanced visibility over the sides.
Also common to all variants is a redesigned rear bed/deck/tub. The profile of the bed has been raised and angled upward front to rear so as the Navara looks better when loaded with cargo. Nissan also reinforced the chassis in the back to improve the Navara's load carrying capability to about 1100 kilograms (1.1 tonnes). The bed also gets C-channels as standard along with 4 fixed mounting points near the floor.
The engine and gearbox options have not changed as Nissan still offers the Navara with either the 190 PS or 163 PS versions of the YD25 turbodiesel. The engines can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic that can drive either the rear wheels or all four wheels.
The suspension has been upgraded with mild revisions to the front, but most of the upgrades are in the back. Nissan made alterations to the geometry of the rear suspension with new mounting points for the rear axle. The rear coil springs that made the Navara popular have also been upgraded with dual-rate coil springs. Nissan says this upgrade enhances the load capability of the truck without sacrificing comfort, as well as gives the truck a better stance when laden with cargo.
All variants of the Navara get the same level of critical safety features as standard. All versions get 6 airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, stability control, trailer stability assist, active brake limited slip, speed sensing door locks, ISOFIX child seat anchors and more. The rear drum brakes have also been enlarged, and hill start assist is standard for all models. Higher grade models get more advanced Nissan Intelligent Mobility features, depending on the variant.
For comfort, all versions get Nissan's Zero Gravity front seats with different upholstery options, different adjustment options (including power adjustment), as well as an upgraded rear seat with extended and higher cushions. Also standard for all grades is a rear center armrest with dual cupholders.
Nissan also fitted the new Navara with a new steering wheel design, upgraded instrument clusters, upgraded infotainment systems, more USB ports including a USB-C port in the center armrest and a USB port for the rear passengers below the A/C vents.
Navara EL Grade
The base model is the 2021 Navara EL 4x2 with no option for a 4x4 like other variants. This model gets the basic exterior look with the chrome grille and halogen headlamps (with follow me home function). These are distinct amongst other Navara models in that it does not have DRLs and foglamps, does not come with side stepboards, have 17-inch steel wheels, have plain black exterior mirrors and unpainted black door handles.
The upholstery is fabric, the steering wheel is urethane with handsfree Bluetooth buttons, the A/C is a manual dial type, and it has a 2-DIN audio system with BT, USB, and 4-speakers. Standard are power windows, power mirrors, and a keyless entry system.
Nissan also says this version has the most ground clearance of all variants at 245mm, and retains the 163 PS / 403 Nm version of the YD25 turbodiesel engine with a 6-speed manual and rear wheel drive.
Accessorized VE version shown
Navara VE Grade
The next higher grade is a new designation: the 2021 Navara VE. This version can be distinguised over the EL with the addition of 17-inch alloy wheels instead of steel and a slightly lower ground clearance of 220mm. The more noticeable upgrades are the quad LED projectors, LED DRLs, LED foglamps, LED taillamps, body color side mirrors with power adjust and power fold, chrome exterior door handles and a reverse camera. Nissan also added side steps for the VE variant.
Inside, the Navara VE gets the new and larger trip computer, chrome inner door handles, a dual zone climate control system, the new 8-inch touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, as well as a 6-speaker system. This version also gets cruise control as standard equipment, as well as a leather wrapped steering wheel with more buttons that also gets audio controls and MID controls.
The Navara VE 4x2 is available with a 163 PS 2.5L diesel with a 6-speed manual or the 190 PS 2.5L diesel with a 7-speed automatic. The VE grade is also available in 4x4 with the 190 PS engine and 6-speed manual gearbox only. The 4x4 version of the VE, as with other 4x4 versions, will have electronic differential lock for the rear and hill descent control.
This version also gets automatic emergency braking and a driver attention alert system.
Navara VL Grade
The Navara VL variant takes the exterior look and features of the VE and upgrades it with 18-inch alloy wheels, silver roof rails, and chrome door handles with buttons for the smart keyfob. This version gets rain sensing wipers, power adjustable driver's seat, an auto dimming rear view mirror, automatic power fold for the side mirrors, as well as sunvisors with illuminated vanity mirrors. This Navara also gets leather seats.
For safety, the VL adds more Nissan Intelligent Mobility features such as blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, the around view monitor 360 degree camera system with moving object detection, as well as front and rear parking sensors.
All VL variants get the 190 PS 2.5L engine. There is the option for the 4x2 7AT, a 4x4 7AT, as well as a 4x4 6MT. This is the only variant with the 190 PS 4x4 with a manual gearbox, and that version also activates the around view monitor in rock mode whenever the driver engages 4WD low range.
Navara Pro-4X Grade
Perhaps the most awaited version of the Navara is the Pro-4X. Much like how the Ranger Raptor was inspired by the F-150 Raptor, the Navara Pro-4X was inspired by the Titan Pro-4X from North America as the most capable and sportiest variant of the range.
This version swaps out the chrome on the exterior for black and/or gray such as the grill, mirrors, door handles, roof rails and even the Nissan logo. Nissan has also fitted the Navara Pro-4X with orange contrast paint on all the logos, the skid plate, and the fender accents. The wheels have also been downsized back to 17-inch alloys (in black), but have now been fitted with Yokohama all-terrain tires as standard (other models get H/T tires though some variants did have AT25 tires).
The interior has some changes with the black Nissan logo on the steering wheel, black inner doorhandles, and Pro-4X stitching on the front seats; only the shifter base plate is chrome on the vehicle. Unusually the Pro-4X has manual adjustment for the driver's seat while the VL grade has power adjustment. The Pro-4X is only available in 4x4, but does not have a manual gearbox option.
As for price, well Nissan still hasn't officially communicated the price to us as they are still finalizing a few details. They will make the pricing announcement on March 21. For now, here's a run down of all the variants of the 2021 Nissan Navara.
2021 Nissan Navara EL 4x2 6MT
2021 Nissan Navara VE 4x2 6MT
2021 Nissan Navara VE 4x2 7AT
2021 Nissan Navara VE 4x4 6MT
2021 Nissan Navara VL 4x2 7AT
2021 Nissan Navara VL 4x4 6MT
2021 Nissan Navara VL 4x4 7AT
2021 Nissan Navara Pro-4X 4x4 7AT