Camping With The Nissan Navara

We are at it again. Joining an event more appropriate for kids 30 years my junior. Or at least that’s how the invitation sounded like when I got asked to join the Nissan Navara drive to Mt. Malasimbo in Puerto Galera, Mindoro.

The 2018 Nissan Navara still sports their innovative multi-link rear suspension that ensures a car-like ride on a pick-up truck. (photo by Ira V. Panganiban)

It was supposed to be roughing it out, driving the Navara up a mountain and then unloading our gears and camping at a site up this big hill called Mt. Malasimbo. The day began at a really ungodly hour of 3:00 in the morning, heading to the airport and flying out by 5:00am to San Jose, Oriental Mindoro.

The drive started right at the airport upon landing. We were to cross the highways of this island which was a major tourist destination some three decades ago, or during my youth, until the wanton disregard for nature destroyed the beauty that was once Puerto Galera.

A side note. You see, Puerto Galera was a booming seaside province in the 70’s and 80’s but it eventually degraded when business came first before nature. Quickly, the beaches disappeared, replaced by huge resort structures, and humans overran nature until no one wanted to go there anymore because of the rot man eventually bring to their pleasure places.

But back to the Navara. We were driving the 2.5 liter DDTI VGS Turbo across the island to experience what Nissan claims to be a most excellent ride on the only pick up that has a multi-link suspension (as Nissan would claim.)

And indeed it was a very good ride. Unlike most pick-up trucks in this section of the automative industry, the Navara rides much like a car would feel, thanks to what we have mentioned as the multi-link suspension.

The Navara drive across Mindoro island up to Mt. Malasimbo showcased the capabilities of the Nissan pick-up especially the Drive Assist system. (photo by Ira V. Panganiban)

The engine is a 2.5 litre diesel powerplant that packs 163 horsepower and 403 Nm of torque controlled by a 7-speed automatic transmission. This means quick acceleration on highways, and nasty pulling power on uphill terrain. Driving through the mountain ranges scattered across the Mindoro island, we found it quite easy to travel the full 140-some kilometers to our destination.

It has plenty of creature comforts and interior space is large and the seats are very comfortable for a pick-up truck. I have just this issue about the seatbelt buckle an the rear. It bites into you butt the moment you hop onto the rear seat and will continue to be an irritant unless you buckle your seatbelts. Unless Nissan made it that way on purpose, so we really buckle up, it is an annoying thing.

The look of the Nissan Navara has not changed much from the previous iterations, the front fascia still has that intimidating slope edged feature with the classic Nissan grille in the middle flanked by LED lamps updated with daylight running lights.

The front driver seat is power assisted for easier adjustments using side buttons. The steering wheel has control buttons that control many of the creature comforts like the entertainment system, cruise control and some features of the Drive Assist system.

Oh, a whole slew of cameras surround the new Navara. Remember when we showed you recently how you can drive the Nissan X-Trail even with windows blacked out? The Navara now have these features too. The visual aides that are projected on the 7-inch screen at the dashboard literally gives you a 360 degree view outside of the car making it hard to miss anything near your vehicle.

Anyway, we get to this private resort up in Mt. Malasimbo and the place has been prepared for us. This was not so much camping as it was glamping (glamour camping) since all the tents have been arranged in as comfortable a manner as possible, complete with air beds, blankets and electric camp lanterns.

The campsite where we did our “roughing it out” was more of a luxury ride than hard life. I guess it is similar to the Navara, looks rough but really gentle inside. photo by Ira V. Panganiban)

At this camp, we were challenged by Georges Ramirez (yes it’s him again), to try the dirt track he fixed up the mountain side, using the Drive Assist system. Now this is not a very comforting thought because if we made a mistake, the Navara would roll down a stiff slope and we would probably be paying for the damage. Thankfully the cameras projected the scenes so clearly that it was easy to drive around the dirt tracks using them.

So, you would think, will this guy suggest buying a Nissan Navara? Well, yes, I would. Besides, with the way the new excise tax for cars being configured as it is, pick-up trucks get to be one of the generous beneficiaries since it has no additional tax and therefore cheaper.

Ramesh Narasimhan, president of Nissan Philippines Inc., and who was in the truck with us almost the whole of the drive, said he believes this will be a best seller product for Nissan. “Because the prices of pick-up trucks will remain largely untouched by the excise tax and we already have a competitive pricing in place, I am hopeful the Navara will be a performer for us at Nissan,” said Narasimhan.

The price of the Navara starts at P961,000  for the base model and goes up to P1,686,000 for the full spec version. We have more stories about this Nissan Navara drive, I just wanted to let you guys know immediately how the drive went right after we did it.

Go check out the Navara at any of their showrooms or visit their website at

The author is a certified motorhead and has been a journalist for the past 30 years. He will be a journalist all his life. He thinks he is famous and his mother agrees. His father has another opinion on that matter.
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