Navara and Triton Review

The 2018 Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton both provide value for money options in the 4×4 ute market. The Triton is currently around the third highest selling ute in Australia, and the Navara is right up there as well. 

Before diving in to the budget options, do your research and weigh up the alternatives. In doing so, you’re making sure what you end up with is fit-for-purpose. For those with a purpose involving off road travel with a slide on camper under constant load, there are some very specific considerations worth taking into account.

In this article, we explore the ins’ and outs’ of the Nissan Navara and the Mitsubishi Triton in terms of off road travel and slide on camper compatibility. Using our bag of recommendations, tips and tricks, if you decide to go down the Nissan/Mitsubishi path, we can help you get it purring. So, lets see how these vehicles stack up against the rest of the mid range off road ute pack, and ultimately help you decide whether or not to go down that track in the first place.

We’ve reviewed these two vehicles together because they are very similar breeds, and provide for similar comparison against the other 4×4 mid range ute options.

Mitsubishi, Nissan and Trayon

We have noticed that the Navara and Triton are not the preferred vehicles by our customers to suit a slide on camper (for more info about slide on campers what is a slide on camper). Here is the list of the current top 5 utes, based on what our customers drive through the Trayon shop:

How do they drive?

Both the Navara and Triton have followed a similar trend as many other mid range off road vehicles in recent times, in particular, the cheaper ute market. We provide more of a ‘budget ute showdown’ comparison in a recent review of the cheaper utes available at the moment.

They have all reduced their engine capacities.

The 2018 Navara runs a 2.3L turbo diesel, which came down from 3L, then 2.5L in around 2007. The Triton runs a 2.4L turbo diesel, where it was previously 3.2L. 

Interior features

In terms of the rest of the mid range ute market, there is nothing in these two vehicles that sets them out from the pack. 

Shape and size

It’s worthwhile checking the wheelbase lengths for both of these models if you intend to carry a slide on camper.

Short wheelbase utes can create issues for offroad travel. 

Trayon slide on campers are designed to have more than 60% of their weight sitting over the rear axle, to allow the vehicle’s suspension to operate effectively. 

Safety Equipment and Ratings

Both the Navara and Triton have a 5 star ancap safety rating. This sets them above the cheaper utes like the Great Wall and Tata Xenon, and abreast with the Rangers and BT50s.

Weight, Payload Capacities and Towing Performance

  Navara (kg) Triton (kg)
Weight 2022 2042
Gross vehicle mass 2910 2900
Payload capacity 930 850
Gross combined mass 5910 5880
Towing capacity 3500 3100

How do the Nissan and Mitsubishi handle the rough stuff?

If approach angles and clearance were the basis of off road success, the Navara would be the pack leader. It has the best approach angles of the current off-road ute market (33 degrees).. Both the Triton and the Navara have are also right up there with the best clearance between the ground and the diff (225 mm). Both have rear locking diffs, and the Triton also has a centre locking diff. The wading depth for the Navara is 600mm and 500mm for the Triton. Not too shabby.

Cab/Tray setups

If you are considering these vehicles in a tub style rear, have a quick read of this. A tub can severely limit what you can use the external storage space for.

A tub can also increase kerb weight, and reduce payload capacity. With an aluminum tray, you can carry more weight, and more awkward items that wouldn’t fit inside a tub. You can always fit sides to a tray to carry unstable loads like soil and green waste, but you can’t take the sides off a tub!

A tray will open up your canopy and camping options as well. When you store gear in a tray, rather than a tub, it provides the following advantages:

  • There is more surface area to spread the gear out, thus lowering the centre of gravity.
  • There is more space to distribute the load towards the centre of the vehicle (i.e. between the front and rear axles).
  • It results in a more stable and safe off road experience.

For the same reason, canopies and slide on campers made to fit tray back utes, rather than pick up tubs, can easily free-stand for camping/storage, have better weight distribution, more space to fit in camping essentials, and provide an all-round better off road rig.

For more information about which vehicle configuration is the best option for a Trayon camper (e.g. a single cab, extra cab, or double cab) check out our recent article about 4×4 touring setups.

Touring Australia in a Navara or a Triton

To ensure you prepare and use the Navara and Triton effectively off the beaten track, here’s our top tips:

  1. Get an Aluminium tray.

As we previously explained. It has big implications for storage flexibility, payload capacity, and off road performance. These days Aluminium trays are super strong and much lighter than steel, so they don’t eat into your payload any more than necessary. One of the oldest, largest and better-engineered tray companies have this all taken care of – Triple M Truck Bodies in Brisbane will have a well-designed aluminum tray to suit your ute.

  1. Add an On-board diagnostics (OBD) link to your road trip tool kit.

Everyone’s old school tool kit simply involved duct tape (for things which are moving but shouldn’t be), and WD40 (for things which aren’t moving, but should be).

An OBD link adds an extra option to check and solve issues with electronics and computer chip related alerts.

These days, electronics can actually limit driving capability if they sense a problem. If the vehicle senses an issue, it can limit driving capacity and actually prevent you from quickly limping to get mechanical help. The OBD link, synced to your phone, can read the code sent out by the vehicle CPU and tell you what’s wrong.

Then you can use the old duct tape or WD40 to try and fix the issue and limp to a mechanic if you can!

  1. Have the Dealer organise a GVM upgrade before it’s registered.

This is perhaps the most important tip for the Navara and Triton, to combat their around town style suspension set-ups. A GVM upgrade does not involve any serious vehicle modifications. It is simply a 4WD suspension upgrade, coupled with a certificate to say that the standard manufacturer’s payload limits have been increased to a certain amount.

A GVM upgrade provides a number of benefits:

  • You can simply carry more gear.
  • You’re better prepared for unexpected circumstances while touring in the Outback (i.e. if you need to carry a mate’s gear as well). And
  • You can better cope better with the greater forces encountered while off road driving (particularly while towing or carrying heavy loads).

By doing this through the dealer and before first registration, it is considered a second stage manufacturing upgrade. This saves you money and also ensures it is legally certified at a federal level.

We recommend going for the highest ‘constant load’ suspension you can get, make sure you ask your dealer for the largest GVM upgrade possible. For more information, check out our recent article on 4wd suspension called ‘Slide on campers: Do I need a 4wd suspension upgrade’.

  1. AIRBAG ALERT!!!

If a GVM upgrade is our most important ‘to do’ tip, then this is our most important ‘not to do’ tip.

When you upgrade a Navara or Triton for off road travel, do not, we repeat, do not, fit the vehicle with air bag suspension. 

This is not because airbags break vehicles, it is because airbags used incorrectly will break vehicles.

An Old Airbag Suspension Rule Thumb:

If you do get airbag suspension, here is the number one tip to avoid breaking the vehicle. Never inflate an airbag on a vehicle more than the current tires pressure. If you do, you will nullify your suspension. Your tires will end up softer than the airbags, and all of the pressure will then shift onto the point of the chassis where the airbag connects.

Airbags are meant only as a ‘suspension helper’, not stand alone suspension. Leaf spring vehicles are simply not designed to take that kind of pressure between leaf spring and the chassis.

If you do intend adding air bag suspension and going off road, their manuals usually say to deflate them to 5psi. So they question is, if the purpose of your vehicle is off road Trayon travel, are airbags really necessary?

  1. Key Travel Tips

The three key tips we like to reinforce when taking vehicles off road are:

  1. drive to your conditions
  2. deflate tires appropriately; and
  3. reduce your speed.

Warranties

Nissan Australia offer a three year/130,000km warranty. And the Triton, until June 30 this year, has an impressive 7 year/150,000 warranty.

Off-Road Warranty Implications

Driving a Nissan or a Mitsubishi off road will not impact the warranty itself, but be aware that warranty only applies to factory defects (in materials or workmanship). So if you incur damage as a result of unresponsible driving, extreme weather, or any other accidental damage, you’re unlikely to find support through the vehicle’s warranty.

That’s where your insurance should come in! So, as with any vehicle purchase, make sure you find the right provider who can cover you for the type of driving you will be doing on and off road. (Always read the product disclosure statements to find the right insurer).

Value for Money

The 2018 Triton is the least expensive of the mid range 4×4 utes. A dual cab Triton 4×4 goes for under $40K, while the equivalent Navara is more than $45K. Still pretty cheap compared with competitors, but doesn’t match the Triton.

Conclusions

The Triton and Navara did not make the top 5 Trayon customer chosen list, so make sure you do your research and come up with your own conclusions.

If a Triton or Navara better suits your situation, then bring it into our shop and we can help you match a Trayon to the vehicle, and provide some tips to make your overall Trayon experience the best it can be!