Performance » 7
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
no fun at all to drive on winding back roads
This is one V-8 that pulls long and hard throughout the entire powerband
The steering has a firm feel, but Armada reacts slowly to inputs.
Off-road, the powertrain has plenty of grunt, and the 20-inch tires work reasonably well in the mud, but this isn't exactly a mountain goat.
Nissan's Armada is based on its full-size Titan pickup, and like the truck, the SUV has a lusty-sounding drivetrain that still makes all the right noises. It's the steering and suspension, and ultimately, the drivetrain too, that haven't kept up with the pace.
The V-8 in question is a 5.6-liter engine, with 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque in this application. It sounds like pure muscle, with a NASCAR-style ripple in its exhaust note. Like the racing series, the engine may have seen its peak--over the past eight years, all the Armada's competitors have been improved, and the strong V-8s and even V-6s that are now offered in some full-size trucks outpoint the Nissan "Endurance" V-8 by a good margin. Ford's EcoBoost V-6, for example, churns out 360 hp from just 3.5 turbocharged liters of displacement.
Combine it with a five-speed automatic, and the Armada's engine feels energetic from stoplight launches, and power is impressively smooth and eager in passing. Acceleration runs to 60 mph in under seven seconds are excellent for a vehicle of its size, though the most powerful GM SUVs can outrun it. And when equipped with a towing package and four-wheel drive, the Armada can tow up to 9,000 pounds.
A carlike steering wheel and shifter hint that the Armada driving experience is going to be more carlike, but it isn't. Brake feel is good, but steering, handling, and maneuverability are sore spots for this mammoth truck. Try to make any quick change in direction, and you're woefully aware of this vehicle's tremendous heft. The tall body and tall-sidewall tires don't help either, leading to a somewhat detached feel when making abrupt lane changes and the like. Ride quality in the Armada is firm but smooth, soaking up most major bumps, but it isn't the most refined experience.
Ride and handling are typical of big body-on-frame SUVs, but the Armada's rorty V-8 is a fine asset.