- Responsive acceleration
- Strong towing capability
- Nice, upright seating position
- Clumsy handling
- Lack of rearward visibility
- Subpar interior materials
- Very poor fuel economy
The 2010 Nissan Armada has handsome, rugged good looks and a responsive V-8 powertrain, but in nearly all other respects, it's outdone by its rivals.
An imposing stance and rugged, macho styling cues separate the 2010 Nissan Armada from the rest of the full-size SUV crowd, but the Armada fails to stand out for interior space, comfort, or practicality. The Armada got a refresh for 2009, including some revised equipment and new option packages, but it essentially continues unchanged.
With its flared fenders, chunky contours, and various other bulges around the wheel wells and hood, combined with a very upright profile, the 2010 Nissan Armada looks imposing and even aggressive, some might say. A prominent pillar at the back of the rear door almost makes the Armada look like a pickup variant, yet it also harkens back to Nissan's former versions of the Pathfinder. Inside the Armada is a little softer in its design compared to other full-size trucks, though plenty of bins and a vast center console mean business.
Towing and hauling remain strengths for the Armada, but its sheer heft opposes any quick changes in direction and drags down fuel economy. A 5.6-liter V-8 engine remains standard on the 2010 Armada, producing 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque. It works well with the five-speed automatic transmission, with no hesitation to downshift, and offers class-leading towing capacity of up to 9,100 pounds. The Armada is, quite simply, a guzzler; the EPA city rating is just 12 mpg, and lower real-world figures are likely if you’re doing a lot of stop-and-go.
The interior of the 2010 Nissan Armada is pleasant for the first and second rows, with front seats perched relatively high. The front seats are quite comfortable, though, and it's easy to find a good driving position with the available adjustable pedals. Second-row captain's chairs are also very comfortable but reduce capacity from eight to seven, replacing the bench seat. In back, the third-row bench is just OK for smaller adults, but it leaves almost no cargo space. Overall, materials in the Armada lag the competition; up close, the dull, scratch-prone plastics used around the lower door panels and center console are bound to show their age, and trims look on the cheap side. Ride quality in the Armada is firm but smooth, soaking up most major bumps, but it isn't the most refined experience, with a fair amount of wind noise in several test vehicles and an engine note that's a little too prominent.
With regard to safety, the 2010 Nissan Armada doesn't fare quite as well as its rivals, but it definitely has size and weight on its side. The insurance-affiliated IIHS hasn't tested the Armada, but it receives four- and five-star results in frontal impact protection from the federal government, with three-star results in rollover because of the Armada’s high center of mass. Front side and full-length side curtain airbags, covering both rows, are standard, plus electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution. Forward and side visibility is great, due to the high perch, but rearward visibility when parking is tougher because of the thick rear pillars.
The Armada does offer a bit more standard equipment than other full-size utes. Automatic dual-zone air conditioning, a 60/40 split fold-flat third-row seat, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, and the ability to play MP3-formatted CDs are all standard features on the 2010 Armada, which is offered in SE, Titanium, and Platinum. Titanium models now add a host of heavy-duty upgrades, including a heavy-duty battery, tow hooks, a towing hitch, a load-leveling rear suspension, roof rack rails, 20-inch wheels, and fog lamps, plus Bluetooth and upgraded Bose audio. Platinum models get convenience features such as a DVD entertainment system, puddle lamps, memory seat settings, heated seats and mirrors, a power rear liftgate, a moonroof, and chrome-clad wheels. A tow package taps into the full 9,100-pound capacity and brings a brake controller and 7-pin harness.