With so many utes out there dominating the Australian new vehicle market these days, the brands building them have had to find ways to help their offerings stand out from the crowd. The obvious way to do this, given how most Aussies use their utes, is to toughen it up for off-roading with lifted suspension, smaller wheels and bigger tyres, and of course some more muscular looks.
Nissan is more than ahead of the curve when it comes to this as its 2022 Navara PRO-4X Warrior is its second take on the concept. Following the positive reception to 2020’s N-Trek Warrior, the brand is upping the ante with this new take based on the already rather tough-looking PRO-4X model that tops the Navara range these days.
For fans of Aussie manufacturing, you’ll be glad to hear this vehicle is keeping the folks at Premcar – formerly Ford Performance Vehicles – busy as the Melbourne company is behind the upgraded design. Ordinary PRO-4X models roll into its factory fresh off the Thai production line and are fitted with its many upgrades by a team of locals. In a post-Australian car manufacturing world, you love to see it.
Yet despite how much has been done to the Navara, and by a small Aussie team at that, it presents strong value for money. At $68,090 before on-road costs for a manual model or $70,590 for the automatic tested here, it’s about a $9000 jump over the standard PRO-4X model. Mind you, if you can do without some of the flashier bits and interior niceties, the same Warrior treatment can be had on the cheaper Navara SL from just $58,000.
That extra spend gets you a new winch-compatible Safari-style bullbar, a front LED light bar, 3mm steel underbody protection plates, 17-inch wheels shod in Cooper Discoverer AT3 tyres, a 30mm track width increase, massive fender flares, a 40mm suspension lift, and a special towbar design to account for the added height. Of course, there are decals and interior embroidery to remind you that this is no ordinary Nissan Navara either, but instead the Warrior.
It’s also clear that Nissan Australia and Premcar have listened to the feedback from journalists as many of the N-Trek Warrior’s teething issues have been addressed with the PRO-4X Warrior. For instance, the light bar used to block the front-facing camera as it sat atop the bullbar, but now it’s integrated into it. That bullbar also increases its approach angle slightly from 35 to 36 degrees.
The new suspension not only has improved spring rates and damping, but ups the Navara’s GVM by 100kg to 3250kg. That means its once pityable payload is now a very respectable 952kg for the auto or 961kg for the manual.
While the original Navara N-Trek Warrior looked good, this PRO-4X Warrior looks great. Its red accents and tougher, more American facelifted bumper make Premcar’s upgrades look like they really were always meant to be there; there’s no denying parts of the original looked a bit tacked-on.
Of course, the 2022 Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior benefits from all its donor ute’s existing interior upgrades as well, which it must be said were vastly overdue. The very good 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system was already part of the deal in 2020, but now there’s a 7.0-inch TFT display between the gauges as well. There’s a new steering wheel and much nicer seat upholstery, too, although it is a bit of a head-scratcher that it used to have heated seats but now no longer does.
It’s also worth noting that the PRO-4X Warrior offers a lot of extras over the cheaper SL Warrior. Dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, LED headlights with high-beam assist, satellite navigation, a 360-degree camera system, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob all justify the extra $10k. That’s not to mention the active safety tech (lane departure warning and intervention, blind-spot monitoring and intervention, rear cross-traffic alert, and tyre-pressure monitoring) either, nor the side steps and roof rails the SL Warrior also lacks.
What appears unchanged, however, is the 2.3-litre twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine under the bonnet, which makes an identical 140kW at 3750rpm and 450Nm from 1500-2500rpm. Likewise, the six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmissions and part-time four-wheel drive system with a rear diff lock are carry-overs as well.
The lack of grunt was among my greatest complaints with the original Warrior, and while the on-paper numbers are identical, it has been retuned with a new drive mode system that makes it feel smoother in Standard and peppier in Sport mode. Of course, there’s still no escaping the fact it doesn’t have that much torque in what is a very heavy vehicle with all the mods attached, but it does benefit from the throttle remap a lot.
The suspension tweaks are minor, but the positive affects can be felt when you pay close attention as well. While the Navara was already one of the most comfortable utes out there thanks to its coil-sprung rear-end, rather than customary leaf springs, the improved damping definitely helps it feel that bit more settled over busier road surfaces. Likewise, it remains quite impressively flat through the corners thanks to its improved spring rates, although there’s no denying that it’s hardly a corner carver.
Naturally, it’s off-road where the Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior thrives most. Certainly, its 260mm of ground clearance and underbody protection means you’re never stressed about bottoming out, and the 360-degree camera comes in handy for trick manoeuvres as well – especially now that the front camera isn’t blocked by the light bar.
The little 2.3-litre mightn’t be the strongest engine out on the road, but there’s certainly enough torque accessible lower down in the rev range for off-road use – which is exactly where you want it – and slipping it into low range certainly helps as well.
But again, it’s the revised suspension that’s the greatest revelation on unmade surfaces. Body control was the one thing the Navara always suffered from most, and while the old Warrior went a long way to improving it, now, it feels like it’s finally there. It just soaks up everything on the worst gravel tracks, and leaves you feeling quite cosseted in the cabin. Again, the difference may be small in the grand scheme, but it goes a long way to making this thing feel as refined as it should.
It’s also worth highlighting that all these various upgrades are covered by the same warranty as the standard Navara as well, meaning five-year coverage with unlimited mileage. For something comprehensively reworked by a small company of just 100 people in Epping – and it’s worth noting that the team is able to complete 50 of these a week – that’s a big tick of approval. It certainly deserves it as the work now feels OEM quality.
As far as its rivals are concerned, the Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior almost goes it alone at this particular point in time. The new Ford Ranger Raptor has mercifully ditched its 2.0-litre diesel engine for a big turbocharged V6 petrol donk, but it means it’s now the best part of $15,000 more expensive than the Warrior. The Mazda BT-50 Thunder, meanwhile, is a bit of a confused offering and lacks the suspension and tyre upgrades this has. Toyota’s HiLux Rugged X did offer such upgrades, but it’s now on the way out.
All the Warrior really does need to be worried about at this point is the new HiLux Rogue which isn’t out at the time of writing, but is due during October 2022. The old Rogue was soft and had carpet in the tray; this new Rogue has been given a widebody treatment, upgraded suspension, and rear disc brakes. The carpet in the tray is still there, but so is its $70,200 price tag which undercuts this automatic PRO-4X Warrior. Don’t forget, there’s still the cheaper SL Warrior to consider as well if you’re trying to be budget-conscious.
Knowing the power of the HiLux name in Australia – it’s been a perennial number-one seller – and the fact this is a locally-reworked offering, it’s likely the Rogue will be the clear leader in sales. However, there’s no doubt that the much tougher PRO-4X Warrior will have every right to challenge it. It’s a seriously good offering that gives you all the mods you’ll want with considerable ease and money saved.
2022 Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior Automatic List Price: $70,590
- Performance - 7.5/107.5/10
- Ride & Handling - 8.5/108.5/10
- Tech & Features - 8/108/10
- Practicality - 8/108/10
- Value for Money - 8/108/10
Pros: Excellent suspension tune, tough looks, a lot of extra kit for the $9k extra spend, GVM upgrade means it finally has a decent payload
Cons: Engine still needs more power, no longer has heated seats, noticeable price increase over its predecessor
In a nutshell: It’s a lifted, tough-looking dual-cab ute that’s keeping Aussie manufacturing jobs alive. What’s not to love about the 2022 Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior with all the upgrades it’s now wearing? Aside from a still-underpowered engine, very little else.
Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Nissan Australia for a week with a full tank of fuel.