November 26, 2020 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes and Nissan Press

Uniquely Nissan Navara

The Nissan Navara’s name is inspired by the Navarre region of northern Spain. The Navara is so successful that you can almost find the mid-size pickup in every single market around the world except for North America. With the recent teasers released about the updated 2021 Nissan Navara in circulation, I was reminded about how interesting the journey has been for the heavy-duty pickup’s heritage over the past 80 years. The comeback kid, as I like to call it, is back with a vengeance. Our family’s first truck was a Datsun/Nissan double-cab pick-up with a proud sticker in the back indicating that it had “Power Steering”! I look back now with so much fondness to that old white workhorse in the late 80’s that had a distributor-type injection pump that we had to “heat-up” until the amber indicator light went away signaling that it was ready to use the modest 74 bhp and 175 lb-ft of torque on tap managed by a 5-speed manual transmission.


Nissan’s next truck in the Philippines was the first generation D22 Frontier which became our first C! Magazine cover that featured a pick-up truck back in 2003. Unfortunately, that same cover would be recognized in-house as the weakest newsstand sales we have ever had which made us very reluctant to showcase trucks on our covers for many years after. The D22 Frontier sales were strongest outside of Metro Manila. Then in late 2004, the 2nd generation D40 Nissan Navara entered our market and solidly established the moniker with its size, updated technology, comprehensive safety and deep abilities. By 2005, we would acquire a top-spec model for our C! Fastfleet with its potent 174 bhp /297 lb-ft of torque 2.5-liter turbodiesel engine mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission and assigned it to James Deakin who was our Managing Editor at the time.

Domestically, Nissan’s period of languishing finally came to an end in 2015 highlighted by the all-new 3rd generation Navara D23. It is truly great to see the brand and its new team thriving and charging forward with incredible energy with the products to back it all up. Nissan produces one of the very best overall pick-up trucks in the region! As a standard double cab, the Nissan Navara NP300 with its unique multi-link coil sprung rear live axle suspension and anti-gravity seats, is still the most comfortable and best on-road handling truck in our market winning several C! Awards along the way for being the very best in class. With a curb weight of about 70 kg less than its predecessor combined with a significantly more potent and livelier engine at 187 bhp / 332 lb-ft mated to the fabulous 7-speed automatic transmission that is applied in the 370Z sports coupé and almost every Infiniti (QX70, Q60, Q50, Q40, Q70 and QX80), the D23 optimizes the powertrain for both frugality and drivability. It got a better rear Limited Slip Differential complemented with ABLS (torque vectoring), TCS (traction control) and Vehicle Dynamic Control (stability and hill descent controls). The Navara VL performed with the agility, braking and acceleration that were more consistent with a mid-size utility vehicle. On a straight line, you may even forget that you are driving an open bed pick-up truck. The overall smoothness, ride compliancy and significantly reduced wind/road noise contributes to a real strong driving experience. The sound quality from the standard 6-speaker system was best in class for years and it was very easy to switch to full telephony using the steering wheel remote controls.

The chassis is so well balanced that for just over three years, Mercedes-Benz produced their X-class premium pick-up truck that was famously heavily based on the current third-generation D23 Navara. C! Magazine has an on-going armada of long-term purchased vehicles across the market called the C! Fastfleet (which we assign to editors and inclusive of vehicles that the board of directors own personally) and we did buy and run our long-term gauntlet of testing on both the previous model top-range Nissan Navara and the old Ford Ranger 3.2 Wildtrak.

The old D40 Navara simply cannot hold a candle to the current one in any category except that the newer bed is 8 mm shorter. The Navara has a rated 600 mm wading depth, but it seems that many owners have dared to go beyond that. The Navara VL has a longer list of standard equipment with better point-by-point features that include the Intelligent key/ignition, the superior LED projector headlights, a new 360-degree reverse camera, better sounding audio system, better instruments, and more comfortable and supportive seating. Payload ratings are about 1,300 kg (3-ton towing). The Nissan Navara VL is a very well built workhorse that is one of the quickest, most nimble, and most full–featured pick-up truck in the market. With the aggressive sales promotions all throughout the country, this could be the optimal time to commit to a very well rounded and versatile truck that is at home in the deep forest as it would be in a city garage.




Engine Inline-4
Displacement 2488 cc
Cylinder Head dohc 16V
Fuel Injector Direct Injection Intercooled VGT Turbodiesel
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 187 bhp @ 3600 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 332 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm
Transmission 7-Speed AT


Top Speed 194 km/h (121 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 10.2 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 14.8 Km/L overall as tested


Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 1,539,000.00
What's Great The best standard double cab pick-up truck in the country, very comfortable cabin with rear a/c vents, excellent on-road handling, very capable off-road, strong packaging, fit & finish, robust, effective 360-degree camera.
What's Not So Heavily updated model coming soon. Best to buy remaining stocks at current pricing while supplies last.
C! Editors Rating 9.5/10
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