Despite the rise of so-called ‘lifestyle’ double-cab utility vehicles in the last few years, there are actually still some people out there who use their new utes as fully-warrantied-up workhorses.
Base price: $51,490
Powertrain and performance: 2.5-litre turbo diesel four, 126kW/403Nm, 5-speed automatic with electric 4WD selection and dual range, ADR Combined economy 10.5 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 5125mm long, 1770mm high, 3200mm wheelbase, GVM 2860kg, tray length 1513mm, tray floor width 1550mm.
We like: Polished vehicle despite basic specification, purposeful looks
We don’t like: People who think utes are only for show.
How it rates: 8/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Despite the rise of so-called ‘lifestyle’ double-cab utility vehicles in the last few years, there are actually still some people out there who use their new utes as fully-warrantied-up workhorses. The Nissan Navara RX is designed for those people: no fancy alloy wheels, vinyl floor covering, not even a rear bumper. It’s a ute that’s basic in specification, although far from crude: the powertrain and interior architecture are the same as the more upmarket Navara ST.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Less really is more in this instance. The Navara is now one of the older utes on the market but it’s always been good to drive.
On the basis that you’re not expecting a ute to be an overtly sporting machine, the RX is arguably a more pleasant vehicle on-road than the more expensive Navara models thanks to those 16-inch steel wheels and flexy 70-series tyres: what it lacks in cornering control (stability control is standard, by the way) it more than makes up for in a cushy ride.
The powertrain is exactly the same as the more upmarket ST: you won’t forget it’s a diesel, but the 2.5-litre engine is punchy and the five-speed automatic gearbox smooth – even if it’s not quite up to the standards of the six-speed Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50 range.
Off-road, the RX has the same ground clearance as the rest of the Navara line-up, but superior approach and departure angles to the posh ST-X versions: 32/27.5 degrees. Shifting between two and four-wheel drive is very easy: electronically controlled via a simple switch.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?
There’s not a lot to complain about when a workhorse ute boasts the likes of power windows, remote locking, cruise control, map reading lights and a decent four-speaker stereo (albeit with no external inputs). All that’s missing is Bluetooth cellphone connectivity, which is listed as an option.
Really, when you’re inside the RX the only giveaway to its true purpose in life is the vinyl floor. The rest of the vehicle benefits from the excellent design, fit and finish of the Navara range as a whole.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
Ute buyers are a brand-loyal bunch. But if you’re a Navara fan looking for a ute that can be knocked around when necessary, this is a very impressive vehicle.