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The Nissan Armada is one of the oldest big SUVs left on the market, now that the GM trucks have all been redesigned. That doesn't make the Armada any less tow-ready, though, nor does it make it any more fuel-efficient. It's also one of the last remaining true full-size SUVs – its a dressed-up, truck-based chassis with a roomy interior, clad in masculine, imposing sheetmetal.
That aging machismo still differentiates the Armada from its domestic competitors–there's just something big, brawny and handsome about its angular exterior and raised rear cabin. And, while some of the interior bits have started to feel a little chintzy over time, the Armada remains a well-organized, easy to use vehicle–even despite its size.
Nissan's "Endurance" V-8 still takes up every nook and cranny in the engine bay, and though it sounds richly powerful and unabashedly an American-at-heart, its 317 horsepower is now down against the competition. The rumbly 5.6-liter eight kicks out strong acceleration off the line--Nissan claims 0-60 mph times of about seven seconds--thanks to a five-speed automatic that's a gear behind some other utes. The combination pairs up with either rear- or four-wheel drive. Passing ability is impressive, and the Armada 4WD tows up to 9,000 pounds.
It has strong brakes, but the Armada's handling and its in-town maneuverability are not its strong points. Quick changes in direction will make you well aware of its mammoth size and heft. Ride quality in the Armada is firm but smooth, soaking up most bumps, but it isn't the most refined experience.
It's quite the climb to get into the Armada, but once you've mounted the seats, you'll find a cabin that is as spacious as the exterior is expansive.The first two rows are quite comfortable, with lots of headroom resulting from the bowed roofline. Ordering second-row captain's chairs cuts down the overall seating capacity by one, from eight to seven. The third-row seat doesn't have quite enough room for adults, and the tall floor makes it a scramble, getting in and out. It also makes loading cargo into the rear more difficult than it could be. There's not much cargo space behind the third-row seat, either, so you'll be leaving it folded down if you use the Armada regularly for family errands.
The Armada shows its age with interior materials. Nissan has dressed up the interior a bit better in recent years, but there are still too many dull plastic trim pieces inside. In multiple test vehicles over the years our editors have noted a fair amount of wind noise, and engine noise in these vehicles is cranked up to an almost ever-present level. While the V-8 sounds good, it can get wear on you on long mountain passes, or when towing.
Three different Armada trim levels are offered: SV, SL, and Platinum. Each can be had with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The Armada has a limited list of options, compared to the Tahoe and Expedition. At the top of the line, the Platinum gets heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a moonroof, power rear liftgate, DVD entertainment, and a nav system with real-time traffic capability and hard-drive space for music storage.
- Seating position
- Willing acceleration
- Spacious interior
- Ability to tow 9,000 pounds
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- Poor handling
- High ingress/egress
- High load floor
- Occasional cheap plastic interior pieces
- Poor gas mileage