Nissan Navara ST ($47,490) - Total: 16 pts.
Value - 2.5 Stars
With the recent arrival of the Series II, the RRP of the Navara ST has risen by $1000. However, to the end of June it is $47,490 drive-away for the double cab auto four-wheel drive (about $6000 off the RRP) and comes with $5000 of accessories, which unfortunately can't be taken off the price (now that would be a good deal).
Even at $47,490 drive-away the price is a bit steep. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available but built-in navigation is standard.
Design - 4 Stars
The Navara is a good-looking truck. The ST now comes with LED headlights with daytime running lights, nav, rear-view camera (but no sensors), tinted rear glass, 16-inch alloy wheels, sports bar and side rails.
The interior is well presented and practical (three 12V sockets and one USB, plus there's a 12V socket in the tray). Rear air vents keep back-seat passengers cool but there is only single-zone temperature control. The steering wheel has tilt-only adjustment, but the driving position is comfortable.
Engine - 3.5 Stars
It might be small in capacity but the twin-turbo 2.3-litre four-cylinder diesel has a big heart (140kW/450Nm).
It's especially responsive from rest with light throttle inputs but can get a bit noisy (by ute standards) once on the move. Combined with a seven-speed auto, it promises an economical average of 7.0L/100km. Unladen we got closer to 12-13L/100km in the city and 9L/100km on the open road.
Safety - 3 Stars
Seven airbags but no automatic emergency braking (not yet available on this or any other ute, so the five-star safety rating is based on earlier standards that did not require AEB).
A rear camera is standard but the vision at night is grainy and below average. Front and rear sensors are optional.
Driving - 3 Stars
The suspension has been overhauled. It better absorbs bumps and can handle a decent load without sagging. But compared to its peers, the Navara is still middle of the pack for overall driving comfort and refinement.
It jiggles over many surfaces, the steering can be cumbersome and the 16-inch tyres are dicey in the wet (even by ute standards).
Mitsubishi Triton GLS ($39,490) - 18 points.
Value - 5 Stars
Triton prices continue to sharpen because not everyone is a fan of its 'praying mantis' look. But you can't argue with the value. Standard fare on GLS includes LED headlights, sports bar, side rails, 17-inch alloys, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, dual-zone aircon, tinted rear glass and a five-year warranty (versus three years on the Nissan and most rivals).
To the end of June, it costs $39,490 drive-away with auto once a $2000 gift card is used to supplement the already discounted price - a total of more than $5000 off the RRP.
Design - 2.5 Stars
As with the Navara, the Triton is a new body on heavily overhauled, decade-old underpinnings. Aided by height- and reach-adjustable steering and a new seat design, the driving position no longer feels like a child's high chair. The cabin looks a bit dated and could do with more USB and 12V sockets, plus a digital speed display. The Triton's tub is slightly longer but the Navara's is slightly wider.
Engine - 3.5 Stars
The 2.4-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder (133kW/430Nm) is a highlight. It is smooth, refined and economical by ute standards. The five-speed auto does the job but more ratios would further improve economy from the rating of 7.6L/100km.
When Nissan and Mitsubishi (now co-owned) jointly develop the next Navara and Triton, I hope they aim for the Nissan's power from low revs and the Mitsubishi's overall refinement.
Safety - 3.5 Stars
Seven airbags and a five-star safety rating for the same reasons the Navara has top marks: the Triton scores are based on earlier crash test criteria that did not require AEB. The rear-view camera in the Triton is clearer than the Navara, day or night, but is still not the best we've seen in a ute (that accolade is shared by Ford and VW). Front and rear sensors are optional.
Driving - 3.5 Stars
The Super Select transmission means the GLS (and higher grades) can switch from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive on sealed roads - peer models can't. All other utes (except the permanent AWD VW Amarok V6) can only use four-wheel drive on dirt or snow.
The Triton's suspension is firm on these tyres (the base model on 16-inch rubber is more comfortable) and road holding in the wet is only middle of the pack.
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