Nissan Armada, redesigned for 2017, is a full-size, family-focused three-row SUV that offers plenty of interior space. Upper models are near-luxury SUVs.
A new top-end Platinum Reserve trim level joins the eight-passenger flagship SUV’s lineup for the 2018 model year. Otherwise, changes are modest. NissanConnect services are newly standard, along with an 8-inch touchscreen, HD radio, and SiriusXM Travel Link. 2018 Armada Platinum Reserve trim includes an intelligent rearview mirror that displays a video view of the road behind.
Four trim levels are offered: SV, SL, Platinum, and new Platinum Reserve. Each is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 that generates 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, driving a 7-speed automatic transmission. Offered with either rear- or four-wheel drive, Armadas feature standard separate body/frame construction.
When properly equipped, an Armada is rated to tow up to 8,500 pounds.
A spacious interior promises comfort that suggests a luxury brand, with an upscale feel both inside and out. Every Armada is well-equipped, but SV trim stands out for high value, priced well below such rivals as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition.
High-tech safety features as automatic emergency braking are either standard or optional for all but the SV trim level. Armada Platinum comes with blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, and active lane control, all optional on Armada SL.
A rearview camera comes standard, but new Platinum Reserve trim includes a camera at the rear that can send live video to an LCD display built into the outside mirror. This real-time rearview mirror presents an unimpeded view, eliminating visual obstructions caused by roof pillars, headrests, or passenger heads. On all Armadas, six airbags include curtain-type units that extend to the third row.
An optional Driver Package for SV trim includes foglamps, a power-folding third row, and power liftgate. The SL Premium Package brings a power moonroof, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring. Nissan’s infotainment system features a large screen, but its basic design is outmoded.
Armada SV ($46,090) has rear-wheel drive and includes eight-passenger seating, a rearview camera, power front seats, cloth upholstery, LED headlights, front/rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch screen with navigation, and 18-inch wheels. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $1,295 destination charge.) Armada SV 4×4 ($48,990) includes all-wheel drive.
Armada SL ($50,850) adds leather upholstery, foglamps, a surround-view monitor, power liftgate, power-folding third-row seats, driver-seat memory, 20-inch wheels, and a power-adjustable steering column. Armada SL 4×4 ($53,750) comes with all-wheel drive.
Armada Platinum ($59,190) and Platinum 4×4 ($62,090) include Premium Package equipment plus active lane control, a video-based rearview mirror, and cooled front seats. Second-row captain’s chairs are optional, for seven-passenger capacity.
Platinum Reserve ($62,190) and Platinum Reserve 4×4 ($65,090) feature special dark chrome exterior trim and 20-inch wheels, two-tone leather-appointed seats, and premium woodtone trim.
Few people would call the big, bulbous Armada pretty. More often, they’d be likely to take notice of its inevitably voluptuous, but awkward, exterior shape. Essentially, Nissan’s Armada looks much like the related Infiniti QX80, but decorated by a little less chrome and equipped with contrasting-color fender flares.
Rather than simply dive into the traditional two-box SUV profile, Nissan went for curves. To some eyes, they may have gone too far in that direction. At the rear, clear taillights and a protruding back bumper help differentiate the Armada from the related Infiniti QX80.
Just about as curvaceous within the cabin as outside, the Armada promises abundant space in both the first and second rows. Front seats are abundantly padded for long-distance comfort, offering a broad range of adjustments.
The third row isn’t quite so welcoming, thus best for youngsters. Though fairly spacious once there, reaching the third row is somewhat challenging.
Eight-passenger seating is standard, with a three-position bench in the second row. Individual captain’s chairs are available for Platinum versions, reducing passenger capacity to seven.
Even in the base SV edition, with its cloth upholstery, the interior is sufficiently upscale and attractive. Wood trim is simulated, but convincing, complementing soft-touch surfaces.
New Platinum Reserve trim substitutes two-tone leather that’s almost tacky in nature, though the darker chrome on the body is an improvement. All told, the new version comes across as more gaudy than suave.
Although the curved dashboard seems to steal some passenger space, front occupants can expect ample stretch-out room. Numerous controls could be confusing at first.
Cargo space excels, with 16.5 cubic feet behind the third row. Folding that row expands volume close to 50 cubic feet. With two rows folded, an Armada can hold 95.4 cubic feet of luggage and cargo.
Approaching 6,000 pounds, especially with four-wheel drive, the Armada is indisputably a heavyweight. Though it copes well enough through curvy stretches, and the body leans during quick corners, an Armada never feels unsafe.
Next to carlike crossover models, handling can only be called cumbersome and sluggish. Although the leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good, Armadas, not surprisingly, are short on road feel.
Ride comfort exceeds expectations for a massive body-on-frame vehicle, thanks to its fully independent coil-spring suspension. The SV base model with 18-inch tires yields the most satisfying luxury-level ride. Upper trim levels with 20-inch tires ride a tad firmer, but the difference isn’t bothersome.
Nissan’s big, strong V8 yields energetic acceleration, augmented by confident towing prowess, but an Armada inevitably guzzles gasoline. Considering its weight, acceleration to 60 mph in less than seven seconds is mighty quick. Smooth-running at idle speed, the V8 emits a subdued growl as it gets rolling.
Four-wheel drive is optional for all versions, permitting off-road treks. Naturally, the excessive dimensions of Nissan’s flagship make it usable mainly on wide trails.
It takes some fuel to power an Armada. Rear-wheel-drive models are EPA-rated at only 14/19 mpg City/Highway, or 16 mpg Combined. Four-wheel drive sinks those estimates to 13/18/15 mpg. At least, it runs on Regular-grade gasoline.
Providing fairly good value despite hefty prices, the Armada comes across as a luxury SUV. Not only will it hold a large family in comfort, it can tow a camper or boat with ease. Demerits include an unbridled appetite for fuel and a largely unrewarding driving experience.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.