2021 Nissan Navara Quick Drive Review: Utility and comfort

Updated Apr 06, 2021

More payload capacity without compromises.
2021 Nissan Navara Quick Drive Review: Utility and comfort

In this review...

  1. Introduction
  2. Exterior Review
  3. Interior Review
  4. Engine and Performance
  5. Safety
  6. Initial Verdict
  7. Variants and Price

2021 Nissan Navara Quick Drive: Introduction

It is evident that the Philippine truck wars are ramping up once again. Toyota has already released the facelifted 2021 Hilux. Isuzu then made a big statement with the introduction of the third-generation 2021 D-Max.

Now, Nissan is itching to jump into the fight once again with its impending release of the refreshed 2021 Nissan Navara on March 21.

Before its official launch in the Philippines, Nissan invited us to test drive the facelifted Navara from Metro Manila all the way to Ilocos Norte.

So, does it have what it takes to trade blows with its updated rivals? Let’s find out with this 2021 Nissan Navara Quick Drive review.

2021 Nissan Navara PRO-4X Quick Drive Review: Facelift and more? | Philkotse Philippines

2021 Nissan Navara Quick Drive: Exterior Review

The 2021 Nissan Navara in Paoay sand dunes

The 2021 Nissan Navara

On a global level, pickup trucks are slowly gaining angular, more aggressive designs. The case is of course the same with the Navara’s latest update. Upfront, it gains a larger grille that was inspired by the Nissan Titan Pro-4X that’s currently available in North America. Nissan also gave it a new set of quad LED headlamps, which are then surrounded by c-shaped daytime running lamps.

>>> Related: Should the Philippines get the full-size 2020 Nissan Titan?

A picture of the rear of the new Nissan Navara

Check out its new tailgate design 

All of the said elements provide the Nissan-made truck a brusque but modern appearance. Combined with the new lower bumper and plastic skid-plate, it enhances the truck’s road presence to the point that one might even mistake it for the impressive-looking Titan if viewing it from the front. This is especially true for the Pro-4X variant which favors black-colored trim pieces instead of chrome.  

A picture of the side of the Nissan Navara

The 2021 Navara from the side. Note the new 17-inch alloy wheels

The lights also offer good visibility during the late afternoon to early evening hours when we were driving back home to Metro Manila. And they look great too. Nissan also changed the shape of the hood for better driver visibility by ditching those wavy, protruding sections towards the sides. However, the hood of the new Navara does retain noticeable character lines which we think suits the angular front fascia just right.

A picture of the 2021 Nissan Navara's wheels

A closer look at the wheels

While the roof-line and side profile mirror the outgoing version, the top-spec Pro-4X variant comes with over-fenders that have orange-colored accents for an added splash of color. The side-step board and the black roof rails also enhance the flavor of the truck’s side-profile. They felt sturdy and will have a lot of potential uses. Visually though, these parts are clear hints that the Nissan-made truck is ready for adventure.

>>> Related: Which 2020 Nissan Navara variant should you buy? [Comparison Guide]

A picture of the Navara's bed

A picture of the Navara's bed. Note the on-rails, adjustable tie-down clamps

Towards the rear, the Nissan Navara gets a new taillight cluster, which matches the modern look of the LED headlamps. There’s also a new tailgate that features angular details that follows the sharpness of the front end. To complete the look of the 2021 Nissan Navara, the top-spec Pro-4X trim gets a set of 17-inch black alloy wheels.

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2021 Nissan Navara Quick Drive: Interior Review

A picture of the Nissan Navara's front cabin

Inside the 2021 Nissan Navara

As a facelift, there are a lot of familiar elements to the Navara’s interior. The shape of the dashboard remains the same, and the arrangement of the controls was unchanged.

Regardless, these are easy to reach and are fairly simple to figure out even for a first-time user. More importantly, they retain the rugged sturdiness of the outgoing model’s interior. 

There are however soft-touch surfaces here and there for occupant comfort. These touchpoints include a central elbow-rest for all variants, as well as the car door armrest pads. 

A picture of the Navara's new steering wheel

The 2021 Navara's new steering wheel

The highlight of the interior is of course the new steering wheel, which feels sufficiently comfortable to grip. In terms of looks, it’s also sleeker and sportier-looking than the hefty one on the old model. The controls on the steering wheel have also been given a better layout for easier control of the digital instrument cluster, as well as the cruise control.

Of note, cruise control is standard for the 2021 Navara except for the EL variant.

Dominating the dashboard is an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Using it is easy, and it offers seamless app integration. The infotainment system itself is fast and responsive and does not lag at all.

The six-piece speaker system also sounds decent, but it does have difficulty when playing bass-heavy tunes. The Navara also gets a total of three accessory charging ports, and four USB ports. There’s one on the dash, one on the rear, and two on the center console. 

A picture of the 2021 Nissan Navara's touchscreen

The 2021 Navara's touchscreen infotainment system

Seating is quite roomy for the front and rear. The rear cabin can fit three with great room for legs and heads, and it also has rear air-conditioning vents.

Speaking of air-conditioning, the Navara’s variants except the EL are equipped with a dual-zone automatic air-conditioning system.  The comfortable Nissan Gravity seats on the front, as well as the rear seats are wrapped in soft leather with a new, premium-looking pattern. This provides the Navara’s interior an up-market look. 

>>> Related: 2021 Nissan Navara Old vs New: Spot the differences

A picture of the Navara's rear seats

The Navara's rear seats. Note the new pattern on the leather

However, we’re not sold when it comes to the Navara’s piano-black trim pieces surrounding the infotainment system and the gear-shift lever. On the gear-shift lever, it’s fine.

But on the touchscreen which we used all the time, it got dirty fast. That can be a bit annoying especially if you want to keep the interior spick and span.  

A picture of the 2021 Navara's gear shift lever

The facelifted Navara's gear shift lever

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Moreover, the Navara’s glove box is tiny. During the drive, it was already filled up with the Navara’s relevant papers and its user’s manual.

That might be improved later on, but as for now, you might want to store the hefty Navara user’s manual under the storage bins under the rear seats in order to take advantage of the glove box.

2021 Nissan Navara Quick Drive review: Engine and Performance

For the drive going to Ilocos, we used the 2021 Nissan Navara Pro-4X variant. It is equipped with a 2.5-liter YD25 inline-4 turbodiesel linked to a seven-speed automatic. It can deliver up to 188 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque.

Other variants can come available with either the aforementioned automatic gearbox or a six-speed variant. A 4x4 or 4x2 drivetrain is available depending on the variant, but the Pro-4X exclusively uses a 4x4.  

Throttle response is good, and torque kicks in early. When driving on city roads, we found that the Navara was agile and direct. It also handled the road height changes that are common on bridges with no issues at all. On the highway where it was able to stretch its legs, overtaking was easy and the Navara was stable.

A picture of the 2021 Navara's engine bay

The 2021 Nissan Navara's 2.5-liter YD25 inline-4 turbodiesel engine

On the tight provincial roads, the Navara was also well behaved. This is a bit nitpicky, but the transmission tends to hang on a bit.

After the second gear though, shifting smoothes out. Road noise was also minimal, but one can hear the hum of the engine when pushing it hard. 

In connection to pushing it hard, we also got the chance to take the Navara Pro-4X off-road on the famous Paoay Sand Dunes. It did pretty well and was sufficiently stable even on the bumpiest of sections. When we tackled the dunes, we got to use the 4x4 system.

Mainly, we used the 4x4-high mode, but with a simple turn of a dial, the Navara 4x4 variants can also switch to 4x4-low mode, and the regular 4x2 mode. Of note, all 4x4 variants of the Navara have a differential lock. 

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A picture of the 2012 Navara VE Variant with accessories in Okada Manila

The accessorized VE variant

Moving back to driving on pavement, the ride that the Navara provides is comfortable. This is thanks to its multi-link, coilspring suspension system.

Of note, this part was further improved by Nissan by adding on dual rate coilsprings. This enables the Navara Pro-4X to carry up to 1,017 kg. Other variants have slightly different carry capacities but most can carry up to a ton.

2021 Nissan Navara Quick Drive Review: Safety

For safety, the entire Navara variant lineup is well equipped. All variants come standard with dual front, side, and side curtain airbags, anti-lock braking with electronic brake-force distribution, among others.

The Pro-4X variant comes with the Nissan Intelligent Mobility safety suite, which is a collection of useful driver-assist features. We particularly found the moving object detection and the blind spot warning features helpful. We also got to test the hill descent control which worked as intended.

For ease of parking, the around view monitor also helped a lot, especially on tight parking spots. The video quality of the reverse and front camera are a bit blurry though, but they work.

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2021 Nissan Navara Quick Drive Review: Initial Verdict

Like most trucks being released in the local market, we’re convinced that the 2021 Nissan Navara has found a way to balance comfort, utility, and performance. It didn’t compromise on its truckish qualities just to provide a cushy ride.  

A picture of the 2021 Navara parked at the Paoay sand dunes

Spec-wise, the 2021 Navara is on equal footing against its rivals

In fact, Nissan even found a way to provide occupant safety while upping its game when it comes to payload capacity. In our opinion, that’s a considerable selling point when pickup trucks are concerned. That’s true especially nowadays where these vehicles are usually doing double duty as a family car and as a business utility vehicle.  

Do note however that Nissan Philippines is yet to release the pricing details for the 2021 Navara. For that, we’ll have to wait for its digital launch on March 21. Stick around on Philkotse.com for a more in-depth full review of this model. 

2021 Nissan Navara Quick Drive Review: Variants and Price

2021 Nissan Navara Variants 


Nissan Navara EL 2.5 4x2 MT 




Nissan Navara VE Calibre 2.5 4x2 MT 




Nissan Navara VE Calibre 2.5 4x2 AT 




Nissan Navara VE 2.5 4x4 MT 




Nissan Navara VL Calibre 2.5 4x2 AT 




Nissan Navara VL 2.5 4x4 MT 




Nissan Navara VL 2.5 4x4 AT 




Nissan Navara PRO-4X 2.5 4x4 AT 




Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar G.B. Miguel


Cesar Guiderone B. Miguel was born and raised in Iligan City, Lanao Del Norte. He graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in English degree from Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology. He previously worked as a freelance writer for various websites, as a member of the Iligan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management's training staff, and as a medical sales representative.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/goridus.goridus

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