Nissan Armada History
2012 Nissan ArmadaEnlarge Photo
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The Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV built on the same platform as the Titan pickup truck. In exchange for pickup practicality, the Armada is a more luxurious people-hauler with legitimate towing capabilities. It competes with other truck-based SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia.
For more information on the current model, including pricing with options, see our full review of the 2013 Nissan Armada.
With the Armada, Nissan offers a sport-ute with serious truck towing or off-road ability. Like others in the segment, the Armada has a V-8 engine standard, and an automatic is the only transmission.
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.
Powering all Armada models since the beginning has been a 317-horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8 engine, hooked up to a five-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or four-wheel drive. Fuel economy from this powertrain has been one of its ghosts from day one; EPA figures as low as 12 mpg city, 18 highway, and real-world numbers from repeated drives from our editors have been even lower.
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.
The Armada has changed little for many model years. After Nissan first introduced the model as the Pathfinder Armada in 2004, it changed the name to a shortened Armada in 2005. For 2008, the Armada was given a light restyle, but it was limited to new brightwork and wood trim and a few new features like a more useful power-folding third-row seat design, a heated steering wheel, and updated entertainment and navigation systems.
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, and the Armada soldiers into the 2013 model year carried over from the prior year, with only minor equipment changes. The Armada can be equipped with a long list of options, including a moonroof or rear entertainment system, and the nav system now includes XM NavTraffic. A new Platinum Reserve package adds dark chrome trim; a USB port is now standard on all models; and Bluetooth is now standard on SV editions.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.