- More modern looks
- Quiet cabin
- Ready power
- Good choice for towing
- Room for people and their stuff
- Big and heavy
- Slow steering
- Tight third-row seat
After rotting on the vine for years, the 2017 Nissan Armada's redesign brings it upscale and makes it competitive with its recently updated truck-based full-size SUV rivals.
The second generation of the Nissan Armada has taken its time coming to the U.S. The first version emerged in 2004, a spin-off of the Titan pickup truck, and it lasted through the 2015 model year, an eternity in the dealer showroom.
With the 2017 Armada, Nissan has adopted what is basically a U.S. version of the global Nissan Patrol SUV. The new Armada is a soul mate of the Infiniti QX80 once again, with a body-on-frame design and its eight-passenger seating. To distinguish it from the QX80, it gets new styling and new engineering, plus additional safety features.
We rate the Armada at a 6 overall, with points scored for its big hauling and towing ability, and points deducted for its thirsty V-8 and big-SUV handling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The styling features a bold, chromed version of Nissan's "V Motion" grille. LED headlights and daytime running lights are standard, and fog lights are standard on higher line models. The taillights are also LEDs. Functional air intakes are located in the front fenders, and all four fenders have contrasting paint on the wheel flares. The overall look is macho, though it also adopts some of the soft, organic shapes of the Infiniti QX80.
Under the hood it features the new 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 making 390 horsepower (up from 317) and 394 pound-feet of torque (from 385). Compared to the outgoing 5.6-liter V-8, this engine features direct injection and Nissan's VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift), which has variable valve timing and variable valve lift for both the intake and exhaust sides. It is mated to a new 7-speed automatic transmission (instead of a 5-speed) with downshift rev matching.
The V-8 is more than enough engine. It gets the Armada moving briskly, has plenty in reserve for passing and towing, and it sings a great V-8 tune that is reserved during cruising but makes itself known under hard acceleration. Nissan isn't sharing 0-to-60-mph times but it should be in the 6.5-second range. That's pretty quick for such a large vehicle.
Fuel economy increases slightly to a best of 14 mpg city, 19 highway, 16 combined with rear-wheel drive.
Rear- and four-wheel drive are offered. The 4WD system has low-range gearing and can send 50 percent of the torque to the front wheels when it detects slip. Properly outfitted, the 2017 Nissan Armada can tow up to 8,500 pounds.
On the road, the Armada can't shed the effects of its considerable weight. It leans noticeably in turns and the steering is slow but fairly direct. It's a bit better controlled than most rivals and ride quality is good, but this is not a vehicle that invites aggressive driving.
Quality, safety, and features
The new Armada rides a wheelbase that is 2.1 inches shorter than the outgoing model, yet it is 1.2 inches longer, 0.6 inch wider, and it sits 2.2 inches lower.
Inside, the Armada offers seating for eight with second- and third-row bench seats. The two rear rows fold in a 60/40 split. Second-row captain's chairs are available that reduce seating capacity to seven.
The cabin is a much nicer place to be than it was in the last Armada. Acoustic glass for the windshield and front side windows, and additional sound deadening material give the interior what Nissan calls "library levels" of interior noise.
Interior space is plentiful in the first and second rows, though we wish the driver's seat had more range of motion in its adjustments. The rear seat is easy to get to but hard to live in. Cargo space is quite usable and rather generous for the class.
The 2017 Nissan Armada is offered in SV, SL, and Platinum trim levels, each with rear- or four-wheel drive. For a starting price around $45,000, the SV is well equipped with an 8.0-inch dashboard screen with a navigation system, heated front seats, a 13-speaker Bose audio system, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The SL model offers such niceties as leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power third-row seat, Nissan's surround-view camera system, a power liftgate, and 20-inch wheels. The Platinum gets a sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, rear DVD entertainment with two 7.0-inch screens, and a suite of safety features that includes with forward collision warning, backup collision prevention, lane departure warning and active lane control, and a surround-view camera system with moving object detection.
Other safety features include the usual airbags, a rearview camera, front and rear park assist, and active front head restraints. The 2017 Armada has not yet been crash tested.