2020 Nissan Armada

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
July 20, 2020

Buying tip

The 2020 Nissan Armada is a good value in base SV trim, unless you really want leather upholstery.

features & specs

4x2 Platinum
4x2 SL
4x2 SV
14 city / 19 hwy
14 city / 19 hwy
14 city / 19 hwy

The 2020 Nissan Armada is an old-school SUV with more charms than its brutish proportions might suggest.

The 2020 Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV named after a fleet of warships, and it’s nearly as spacious and powerful as one.

The 2020 Armada is a throwback to SUVs of yesteryear, with some concessions to modernity such as active safety tech and a thumpin’ stereo. Though it’s far from perfect, the Armada is a good choice among big SUVs for those who tow or occasionally go off-road. We score the lineup at 5.6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Available in SV, SL, Platinum, and Platinum Reserve trim levels, the Armada lineup starts a hair under $50,000 and climbs to nearly $70,000. Changes this year are limited to standard heated rearview mirrors (that’s good news) and 22-inch alloy wheels now available as a standalone option on some trims (save your money).

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The best value is at the bottom of that heap since all trucks share a strong 5.6-liter V-8 rated at 390 horsepower, a slick-shifting 7-speed automatic transmission, and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. Sold as the Nissan Patrol overseas (and with dressier leather and real wood trim as the Infiniti QX80 over here), the Armada is the latest in a long line of Toyota Land Cruiser-challenging mega-SUVs. That may help explain its decent off-road chops and its luxurious interior, even in versions with cloth upholstery.

Passenger space is excellent in rows one and two, and tolerable in row three. Room for cargo is, predictably, enormous, and the Armada can lug up to 8,500 pounds worth of additional stuff should you run out of space inside. Interior materials are near Infiniti-grade, which makes the QX80 a real head-scratcher unless the extra year of warranty and presumably a nicer service department are must-haves.

The Armada has been around for a decade now, which helps explain its lackluster infotainment that doesn’t include Apple or Android compatibility, though Bluetooth and Bose speakers are standard fare. At least its collision-avoidance tech is up-to-date with standard automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, plus available active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and a surround-view camera system.

Fuel economy is a sore spot, even by big SUV standards. Don’t look for 20 mpg unless you’re coasting downhill with a big tail wind.


2020 Nissan Armada


The 2020 Nissan Armada is built like a battleship, with looks to match.

The 2020 Nissan Armada isn’t the kind of vehicle that will have you walking back out to the garage at night to stare longingly into its headlights. SUVs can do that—see Lincoln Aviator—but not many. 

We score the 2020 Armada at 5 out of 10 in the looks department, a perfectly average score.

The bulbous front end works better here than it does on the nearly identical Infiniti QX80, as do the unadorned sides and simple taillights. That’s not exactly a compliment, though we do like the Armada’s almost retro-style two-tone fender flares that give it a rugged look backed up by its decent off-road chops.

Inside, the Armada has a curvy dash straight out of the Infiniti playbook, and adorned with low-sheen surfaces to match. It’s probably the nicest interior in the Nissan lineup, a byproduct of this design’s global market. Myriad controls might take some time to sort through, but they’re mostly within easy view.

The range-topping Platinum Reserve is just too much with its two-tone leather, though we do like the dark exterior chrome more than the brightwork on standard versions.

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2020 Nissan Armada


The 2020 Nissan Armada is a smooth, silent cruiser with confident towing ability.

Don’t go looking for turbochargers or hybrid tech in the 2020 Nissan Armada. This big SUV is a throwback in most of the right ways with its strong V-8 engine, cushy ride, and nautical handling.

We score it at an even 5 out of 10 thanks to its good ride but lousy cornering ability. No surprise there.

Underhood you’ll find a 5.6-liter V-8 rated at 390 hp and 394 pound-feet of torque that delivers power rearward or to all four wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission. There’s nothing earth-shattering about what’s underneath the Armada, though at least the four-wheel-drive system has a two-speed transfer case for more serious off-roading or for lugging boats out of a lake. The V-8 provides good power with a hearty growl, while the transmission always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

The Armada rides on a separate ladder chassis derived from that used in the Titan pickup, though it swaps in a fully independent suspension like that used on the Expedition for a smooth, comfortable ride. The optional 22-inch wheels—which are newly available in a standalone package—spoil things slightly and will result in considerably more tire wear and more expensive rubber. Vanity isn’t always worth it. 

Steering is reasonably price, though body lean is about what you might expect from an SUV that can top 6,000 pounds with a full complement of riders on board. 

The Armada can lug up to 8,500 pounds, which we’ve done in limited testing. It’s no match for a full-size pickup, but at least the entire family can join in on the haul.

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2020 Nissan Armada

Comfort & Quality

Passengers and cargo are treated to good space and upscale decor in the 2020 Nissan Armada.

The 2020 Nissan Armada is a lot like its costlier Infiniti QX80 sibling inside, and that’s just fine with us. Its interior is spacious for passengers and cargo, and its materials are a step above what we expect at these prices.

We score the 2020 Armada at 8 out of 10 for its interior comfort and quality.

Front-seat riders get soft, wide thrones that are good for a day of exploring, plus an excellent view out and plenty of leg, head, and foot room. Row two is much the same, either in the standard three-piece or optional captain’s chairs configurations. With 41 inches of leg room, the Armada can handle the lankiest passengers. 

Row three is better for kids than adults, thanks to limited leg room and not much space for feet under the second row ahead. 

Cargo space stands at a hair under 17 cubic feet with the third row upright, nearly 50 cubes with it folded, and a maximum of about 95 cubic feet of room.

Materials-wise, the Armada’s interior is swathed in soft-touch plastics, low-sheen surfaces, and reasonably convincing fake wood. Even the cloth-upholstered Armada SV is plenty nice inside. Just don’t look for cutting-edge technology.

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2020 Nissan Armada


The 2020 Nissan Armada lacks a full crash-test picture, though it does come standard with collision-avoidance tech still optional on some rivals.

The 2020 Nissan Armada earned mediocre scores in the NHTSA’s testing, though it does come standard with active safety features that can help avoid a collision in the first place. 

Until the IIHS evaluates Nissan's big SUV, we’ll have to hold off assigning a score here.

The NHTSA rated the 2020 Armada at four stars overall, including a concerning and unusual three-star score in the rollover evaluation. Most new vehicles rank at five stars overall.

Every 2020 Armada leaves the assembly plant with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and a rear-seat reminder system. Blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and parking sensors are optional and are likely fitted to most Armadas on dealer lots.


2020 Nissan Armada


The 2020 Nissan Armada makes more sense the less you spend.

The 2020 Nissan Armada wants for little at its base price, which undercuts rivals by thousands. We rate the lineup at 7 out of 10 on account of its standard and touchscreen.

The base Armada SV costs about $48,500 to start, and it’s well-equipped with power front seats, cloth upholstery, collision-avoidance tech, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, and Bose speakers. Don’t look for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, though, as this big SUV is one of the last vehicles on the market without that gear. That’s a shame given the Armada’s lousy infotainment software and the tiny screen in its instrument cluster. They’re signs of this design’s age.

If leather upholstery is a must-have, the Armada SL costs $4,800 more than the base version and drapes seats in hides, swaps the smooth-riding 18-inch wheels for rougher but more stylish 20-inchers, adds a power liftgate, and a few other features. This is the most we’d recommend spending on an Armada.

The Platinum tosses in more features including dual 7.0-inch displays for rear-seat entertainment, but it’s 2020 and we all have tablets by now, right? Skip the megabuck Platinum Reserve, which crests $70,000. There are better ways to spend that kind of coin on a three-row SUV, especially when the SV and SL are decent values on their own.

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2020 Nissan Armada

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Nissan Armada is the opposite of green.

Here’s the good news: Nissan specifies regular unleaded fuel for its 2020 Armada SUV. The bad news? It uses a lot of it.

We rate the Armada range at just 3 out of 10. 

With four-wheel drive, the EPA says the Armada will guzzle at a rate of 13 mpg city, 18 highway, 15 combined. That’s awfully bad. 

Rear-drive versions are slightly better, at 14/19/16 mpg. 

By comparison, the 2020 Ford Expedition tops 20 mpg on the highway in every configuration.

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