New & Used Nissan Armada: In Depth
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The Nissan Armada is the automaker's biggest sport-utility vehicle. Capable of seating up to eight passengers and towing up to 9,100 pounds, the Armada is a spin-off of Nissan's full-size Titan pickup truck.
Returning for the 2015 model year with only minor updates, the Armada is a rival for the Chevy Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition, and Toyota Sequoia. New back in 2004, the Armada is the oldest vehicle in that group, by a long shot.MORE: Read our 2015 Nissan Armada review
With an especially tall, imposing stance and rugged, macho styling cues—including a huge grille, large showy wheels, and its very distinct roofline and rear roof pillar arrangement, the Armada never fails to stand out with respect to design. The model hasn't changed much inside or out since its original introduction for 2004, but it still manages to turn heads—to positive or negative effect, depending on the place and time.
Since the model launched, all Armadas have been powered by a 5.6-liter V-8 engine making 317 horsepower. It is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission and a choice of either rear- or four-wheel drive. Fuel economy ratings have never been terribly competitive, only looking worse as time has gone by and competitors have improved; the EPA rates the least-efficient setup at 12 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway, while we've seen lower in our own testing.
The Armada offers seating for up to eight, with plenty of space for adults to sprawl in the first and second rows. The third rows are abbreviated, and even teenagers will find themselves in a scrunched position. While the Armada's interior design is quite attractive and different than that of other trucks, its cabin materials have never been that impressive. The plastics used in the instrument panel, doors, and console, in particular feel a step behind those in rival models. Refinement has never been at the forefront either, with a bit more road and wind noise and a gruff, ever-present character to the engine. However just as in Nissan's other trucks there are more than enough storage spaces and cubbies throughout.
Brawn seems to be the Armada's reason for being, and it has plenty of ways to flex its muscle. The engine isn't downright fast in hauling the heavy Armada, but it doesn't flinch for a full load, and it can tow up to 9,100 pounds. On-road handling isn't so great, with a tendency to wander on the highway but a quick steering ratio helps for parking. Additionally, there's modest off-roading ability on tap, but in more recent years the Off-Road model has been discontinued.
Few changes have come the Armada's way over the years. The most noticeable was perhaps the shortening of its name a year after introduction, from Pathfinder Armada to just plain Armada. In 2008, the big ute underwent a mild aesthetic refresh, adding some shiny trim outside, some wood inside, and reconfiguring the third-row seats; the large Nissan also got upped standard equipment, with the addition of newer navigation and infotainment systems and a heated steering wheel. Other than that, though, things have been pretty steady as Nissan works on a new Titan pickup, which should eventually bring a revision to this model.
Until the 2011 model year it was closely related to the more luxurious Infiniti QX56, though that SUV is now built on a different platform. Very few major changes have been made since then. For 2015, the Armada gets restyled door panels and new 20-inch wheels, and some new paint colors.
The current Armada can be equipped with a moonroof; a rear entertainment system; and a recently upgraded navigation system that includes XM NavTraffic real-time data. A USB port is now standard on all models, as is Bluetooth.Nissan's chairman Carlos Ghosn has promised a new version of the Titan pickup that shares the Armada's running gear, but Nissan hasn't said anything about a replacement for the big SUV.