Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: 2015 Nissan NP300 Navara 4x4 VL A/T

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Remember when the Sony PlayStation 1 launched? I did. It was dubbed the next-generation video game console even before its debut, and yet, no one had any idea how it will revolutionize entertainment. From simple graphics during the Nintendo Family Computer days, the PlayStation opened up the possibilities brought about by its impressive graphics. What the PlayStation did for video games is exactly what the Nissan NP300 Navara’s doing for pickup trucks.

When Nissan called the NP300 Navara a next-generation pickup, I greeted that, admitted, with some skepticism. After all, having driven my fair share of pickups in the past few years, I knew they had a pretty high bar to overcome. I may be late getting on the Nissan freight train, but now that I’ve brought it through its paces, I’ve got a very simple conclusion: this is the new standard, end of story.

Flying into the largest pickup truck market outside Metro Manila, Cagayan de Oro, it’s easy to see the importance of a well-engineered product for the people living here. More than just good-looking machines, they have to negotiate the peculiar situation of the city. Jeff Rolida, Nissan Cagayan de Oro dealer principal, explained that the city is a boom town. Situated near the mountains, a powerful and torquey vehicle is important. Plus with infrastructure development in full swing around the city, a vehicle has to negotiate a lot of rough roads. This is the sort of market the NP300 Navara had to prove itself in.

Grabbing the keys at the first chance I got, I settled in the driver’s seat. Getting in and out is a bit hard since the pilot doesn’t have the convenience of a grab handle (all others do). Once you get onboard though, the cabin’s very car-like. The fit and finish are great and the use of metallic accents and piano black inserts add to the techy feel. The seats are plush and the ergonomics are spot on. At first, I thought this would be a leisurely ride and drive. However, it felt more like a scene from Mad Max with the way everyone was pushing. There are no qualms though since it showed the capabilities of the NP300 Navara. With 190 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque, it may not have the most output in its class, but in practice, the way the power is delivered is linear and usable. In full attack mode, it pulls strongly from a standstill, enough to dig you into the Zero Gravity seats. What’s more, the engine is willing to sing to its redline—a rarity in a diesel. And it’s mighty quiet even at full song.

Connected to the engine is an equally impressive seven-speed gearbox. Not only does it trump the others in terms of bragging rights, but in actual operation as well. It comes with a manual shift override, but trust me: you won’t need it, ever. The up-and downshifts are quick and imperceptible. The gearing is well-spaced though an odd occurrence happens between second to third and third to fourth: there’s a momentary loss of boost for a split-second only to have it come back big time. Seventh gear works as an overdrive, boosting highway mileage and cruising comfort. Even with me pushing the wits out of it, it does 12.5 km/L.

Nissan likes talking about the unique five-link coil spring suspension and for good reason: it works. The ride quality is actually better than mid-sized SUVs. Even with just four people and no cargo onboard, it’ll absorb everything you throw at it. There’s still some shake coming from the cargo bed (a common thing among pickups), but the frame feels sturdy nonetheless. Road bumps, cuts, ruts and even the more notorious speed ribs (and there are a ton of them here) are reduced to nothing more than a slight nuisance. Even when the roads completely disappear, sometimes without warning, the NP300 Navara’s generous suspension travel enabled me to tackle deeper potholes without difficulty (or even a reduction in speed). And even if Nissan’s not saying it, the cabin’s also quiet with controlled wind, tire, and road noise even at high speed. If there’s some gripe though, it’s that the steering does loosen up tremendously at high speed (past 120 km/h) making it feel less grounded and stable.

The quick stop at Iligan City for a lechon brunch necessitated some maneuvering into a parking slot. It was a test for the NP300 Navara’s visibility and maneuverability. It may be one of the largest, if not the largest, offering in its class, but from behind the steering wheel it doesn’t feel it. It takes just a few turns to slot it into place and the visibility is good even when judging the ends of the cargo bed. What’s more, there’s a rear back-up camera.

From Iligan City, the convoy backtracked to Cagayan de Oro before climbing up to our final destination: Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon. On the way, we had to tackle some twisty mountain roads similar to Marcos Highway heading up Baguio. In these circumstances, the NP300 Navara shone with the responsiveness of its drivetrain package. The stability of its chassis also helped. There were times when you can hear tire screeches from the unladen pickup, but the Vehicle Stability Control didn’t light up even once. I figured then that it had everything under control. It did tip and understeer from time to time, but any other vehicle with a high center of gravity will. Still, it’s one of the most controlled in the pickup and mid-sized SUV category. Plus, the Zero Gravity Seats give surprising support, besting even the X-Trail’s!

The biggest test of comfort was done when we entered the Del Monte pineapple fields. With no roads to speak of and the convoy maintaining speeds past 60 km/h, I decided to swap driving duties to being a passenger for the first time. Compared to a pickup experience just two weeks ago, the riding comfort of the NP300 Navara is in a world of its own. There are no unwanted jiggles and niggles here. It’s downright perfect. Even if you find yourself in the back, the comfort is just as good with rear A/C vents and a wide bench that fits up to four adults with ease.

At first glance, the Nissan NP300 Navara may lack some of the toys of its competitors: the VL for instance doesn’t have leather seats or a bed liner. But I’d give up those for things that actually matter: driving experience and passenger comfort to name just two. After all, you can install a bed liner in Banawe, but you can’t say the same thing with excellent engineering. It easily lives up to its promise as the segment’s most advanced offering and as a whole pushed the benchmark by which all pickups will be measured against by a mile. This is truly the next-generation pickup truck.

2015 Nissan NP300 Navara 4x4 VL A/T
Ownership 2015 Nisan NP300 Navara 4x4 VL A/T
Year Introduced 2015
Vehicle Classification Pickup
The Basics
Body Type 4-door + 1 tailgate pickup
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/4WD, Part Time w/ Low
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Common Rail Direct Injection, Turbo
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 190 @ 3,600
Nm @ rpm 450 @ 2,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 7AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 5,255
Width (mm) 1,850
Height (mm) 1,840
Wheelbase (mm) 3,150
Curb Weight (kg) 1,945
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Rear Suspension Five-Link Coil Spring
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Toyo Open Country A25 255/60 R 18 H (f&r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, Rear Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control No, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. let me share my 2 weeks old NP300 crawling daily to my newly-developed gamefarm.
    the Good or excellent--Engage the rear locker & you will notice the front axle traction control is not disable. Rear coil suspension handles better than leaves. Look underneath & you will see the center rear axle flat to gain more clearance from bumps not on other trucks even the coming Hilux. Thanks Nissan.
    The BAD --engine is not class leading in vibration & noise, Steering is slow not level with Ranger that I test drove. Second row space aren't good for adults occupancy. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I agree about her suspension... Single-handedly the best part of the Navara.

      You're saying not the best in engine quietness? By far it's the best I've experienced. Felt it was very quiet at least from inside the cabin. Steering is a bit slow, but it's easy to adjust to it. Not that truckish.

    2. Sir, can you confirm the rear locker? I don't see a switch for it. I have arb lockers ... really big help in the farm.

    3. Sir uly, my family is planning to buy nissan np300 elcalibre 4x2 this year...pero maraming nagsasabi mahal daw ang mga parts nito at d basta basta makita..kailangan pang e order..in short mahal ang maintenance ng nissan compare to other pickups brand..totoo ba to sir?i realy need your reply...tnx..godblessu..

  2. Sorry Sir,,
    The clatter is noticed on the outside but YES--inside the cabin is suppressed by high std. NVH.
    Trucks are not built perfect but I believe this NP300 is an all-rounder & best off-roader.
    Thanks again.

  3. ~ i'm not satisfied with the fit of my bedliner... i hope they can find a way to fit it right.
    ~ power is enough to go on third gear uphill... a no worry.
    ~ poor sound system
    ~ comfortable ride
    ~ i just grab the steering wheel going in... a no worry.

    1. yes they did find a way to fit my bedliner right with little adjustments...

  4. I'm surprised. no leather seats for the top variant for Philippine market. and poor quality sound system. you can do better, Nissan.

    1. I won one the sound system needs adjustment/tuning but its one of the best stock 6 speaker setups out there. My friend who has a CRV was convinced to upgrade his sound system after listening to the sound system of my NP300 EL AT Calibre Navara. For best sound quality using a mini jack works best and I am am playing 512KB AAC and MP3's

  5. All these complaints are readily cured in yhe afternarket

  6. Yehhh CPH you give a good rating because they treat you for Leston break..... 4 people on board why you dont try have a cargo 200 kg. Then you feel under power..... you heard the engine screaming....

    1. I upgrades my Frontier 4X2 with NP300 4X2 El Calibre since it carries bigger load compared the old one. I drove my NP300 for almost 200Km with load of 400Kg.. I didnt notice any under power. The power still their even at high gear. I normally carry 50Kg sacks of Agri feeds for my business. I am planning to upgrade the rear shock abs to heavy duty. As for acceleration just give me a clean way and i will pass you by..

  7. ito ang magiging ranger killer performance wise, ang dapat na lang mapatunayan nito is ung durability niya pag na prove nitong new navara na to na matibay na dn siya ito na pinaka magandang pick up na bilhin

  8. My dad saw one on the road, and he likes the styling very much. He's very impressed with the spoiler which he thinks is very distinctive and attractive.

  9. Sir Ulysses, what do you think about the np300's second row? As compared to the strada's and also other competitors..thanks

    1. Actually, they're more or less the same. However, the Strada does have a more comfortable seat pitch compared to the NP300. It even has a better seat pitch and seat cushion length compared to the Ranger. Ride comfort though, I'd rather be in the second row of the Navara than the Strada.

    2. Sir Ulysses, Navara EL vs Hilux G 4X2.... what do you think?

  10. HI Ulysses, my Top choice is the Navara but on my test drive earlier found out the aircon has Super lots of speed wen turning the knob (others normally max is 4-5 speed). can you comment, pleased to hear. pls pls

  11. Sir uly, my family is planning to buy nissan np300 elcalibre 4x2 this year...pero maraming nagsasabi mahal daw ang mga parts nito at d basta basta makita..kailangan pang e order..in short mahal ang maintenance ng nissan compare to other pickups brand..totoo ba to sir?i realy need your reply...tnx..godblessu.

    1. mag toyota hilux ka na lang, mas mura ung maintenance bro.

    2. Nissan parts are more expensive but lasts 2x as long fron our experience with a Patrol and a Frontier. My 1k and 5k costs less than 500 pesos. from a very satsified NP300 EL Calibre AT 4x2 Owner

  12. Totoo po bang mabigat talaga steering wheel ng navara?

    1. Opo totoo po. pati ung carrier nya nag sslide pa pag na lagyan ng mabigat na gamit.

    2. ok lang naman...pwede naman mapa adjust yung stering whel sabi ng mikaniko ng nissan..last month lang ako nag test drive...ang sarap dalhin..and im planning it this year... :)

  13. Totoo po bang masikip talaga yung 2nd row ng np300 4x2 at ?

    1. Almost the same as the Ranger and Colorado with a slight edge in space sa Colorado. I am 5'9 250 pounds and I fit comforstably sa second row with my similar sized older brother driving.

  14. Totoo po bang sirain ang nissan np300 tas mahirap hanapin at mahal daw po ba talaga spare parts neto.. Plan to buy 4x4 VL this comming december po kc.. At under power na raw po xa pag my load khit 200kgs daw.. Need your opinion np300 lovers

    1. I have had my NP300 since April and have 6k millage on it. PMS is less than 500 pesos for 1k and 5k and according to our Team Navarra group about 2.5k-4k for the 10k. So over all not bad. Its engine is one of the best and we have team members who load it with 900kgs or more and have had no issues with their units and its power.

  15. 2 airbags? You've got to be kidding me!