2021 Nissan Armada

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
January 25, 2021

Buying tip

The Armada’s base SV model is well equipped and the best value of the bunch.

features & specs

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

The 2021 Nissan Armada is a big, comfortable brute that can tow the boat and haul the family all at once.

What kind of car is the 2021 Nissan Armada? What does it compare to?

A full-size SUV, the appropriately named 2021 Nissan Armada is nearly as big as a fleet of warships. The three-row SUV competes with newer rivals like the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Ford Expedition. 

Is the 2021 Nissan Armada a good SUV?

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The Armada is good at hauling the family and towing the boat or horse trailer all at once. It’s too plodding and thirsty for ideal family duty, but it is quite comfortable. We rate it a 5.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Nissan Armada?

The Armada is refreshed for 2021, with revised front end styling, a new infotainment system with a larger screen, wireless smartphone charging, more power, and additional safety equipment. It also gets a trailer brake controller and trailer sway control. 

Nissan also simplifies the model lineup for 2021 by eliminating the top Platinum Reserve model, leaving just SV, SL, and Platinum trims. 

How much does the 2021 Nissan Armada cost?

The 2021 Armada starts at $49,895 for the base S model and the Platinum tops out at $66,295. The S is well equipped with synthetic leather upholstery, heated 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a 12.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto compatibility, satellite radio, navigation, and 18-inch alloy wheels. 

Nissan’s improved set of safety features includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, active blind-spot monitors, and rear automatic braking.

All models get a new nose this year that gives this big SUV an even blockier look befitting its rugged attitude. New LED taillights are found front and rear, and the interior features a reconfigured center stack designed around it’s updated infotainment system.

The Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter V-8 that ups its output to 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque for 2021. The strong but thirsty engine sends its power through a responsive 7-speed automatic transmission to the rear or all four wheels. When four-wheel drive is chosen buyers also get low-range gearing for more precise control off-road. The Armada hustles in a straight line, but its power is meant more for hauling up to 8,500 pounds than winning drag races. 

Predictably, the Armada drains the tank with a 15 mpg combined fuel economy rating for 4WD models. 

The body-on-frame structure does the three-ton Armada no favors for handling, but it offers a smooth, comfortable ride. 

The cabin doubles down on the comfort. Five adults fit well in the first two rows, but the third-row seat is best left to kids. The ambience is calming and quiet, with an upscale feel created by plenty of soft-touch surfaces, the large screen, and faux wood trim. The new infotainment system is a vast improvement, with touch controls, a rotary dial, and quick responses.

Where is the Nissan Armada made?

In Yukuhashi, Kyushu, Japan.


2021 Nissan Armada


The 2021 Nissan Armada is bold and rugged but not beautiful.

Is the Nissan Armada a good-looking SUV?

Brash, bold, and blocky, the 2021 Nissan Armada is not beautiful. The big SUV lacks the flair of entries from Lincoln or Cadillac. We rate it a 5, an average score that neither offends nor impresses. 

The new styling is found mostly up front, in the new fenders, LED headlights, front bumper, and hood. They create a slightly blockier, more upright look with more angular headlights, and a taller version of the Nissan grille. The profile is largely unadorned, save for gills at the rear of the front fenders, body-color fender flares, and an angled rear window design that mimics the rake of the windshield. New LED taillights play off the look of the headlights. Overall, the Armada’s rugged look reflects its capability.

Inside, the look and feel are more luxurious than rugged. The curved, two-pod dash has an Infiniti feel, with low-sheen, soft-touch surfaces. It’s the highest-quality cabin in the Nissan lineup, and its veneer does a good job of approximating wood trim. Higher end models are even better with quilted leather upholstery.

The new center stack is topped by a 12.3-inch touchscreen that sprouts from the dash, like in so many other vehicles. The instrument cluster also gets with the times with a standard 7.0-inch digital display between the gauges.

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2021 Nissan Armada


The 2021 Nissan Armada may be smooth and strong, but it’s not agile.

A big, truck-type SUV, the Armada comes with the positives and negatives of that design. It rides high and soft, with lots of body lean and a strong V-8 engine. We rate it a 6 out of 10, adding points for the smooth ride and powerful V-8, but taking one away for its plodding handling. 

Is the Nissan Armada 4WD?

The Armada comes standard with rear-wheel drive and offers optional four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case.

How fast is the Nissan Armada?

The Armada has only one engine, a 5.6-liter V-8 that makes more power this year. Its 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque best the 2020 model by 10 and 19, respectively. It’s a smooth, strong engine that growls heartily and gets this nearly three-ton beast moving with ease. It doesn’t feel quick so much as strong, as shown by its 8,500-pound towing capacity. The 7-speed automatic transmission has fewer gears than most rivals, but that just gives it less opportunity to be confused. 

The Armada’s body-on-frame chassis borrowed from the Titan pickup employs an independent suspension that delivers an especially smooth ride. The available 22-inch wheels send more road imperfections into the cabin, but few vehicles feel as isolated from the road as the Armada with the standard 18s. 

The downside of the Armada’s size and ladder frame is copious body lean through corners and reduced agility, though the steering strikes a good balance of direct responses without upsetting the weight balance too quickly.

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2021 Nissan Armada

Comfort & Quality

The 2021 Nissan Armada pairs a roomy cabin with high-quality interior materials.

The eight-passenger 2021 Nissan Armada is a less expensive version of the Infiniti QX80, but it doesn’t feel much less expensive inside thanks to high-quality materials and finishes. It also has lots of room for passengers and their stuff, earning it an 8 for comfort and quality.

The first two seating rows are spacious and comfortable. Those up front sit on wide, soft seats with all-day comfort. The second row is wide enough for three across to be comfortable and the available captain’s chairs make the experience even better. A generous 41 inches of rear leg room means your tall friend can sit in the back for once. 

The third row trails a largely updated class for space. It works for up to three kids, but lacks the leg room, head room, and thigh support to accommodate adults for more than short, uncomfortable trips.

Full-size dimensions give the Armada plenty of cargo space that improves as the seats are folded. It has 16.5 cubic feet behind the third row, 49.9 cubic feet behind the second row, and 95.4 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded.  

Up front, it offers plenty of storage space for small items, though the wireless charging shelf set into the center stack would be better on the center console where drivers could glance at their phones rather than fishing them out of that slot. 

Nissan doesn’t skimp on materials quality, covering much of the cabin in soft-touch vinyls and plastics and providing a reasonable facsimile of wood trim. Higher end models have rich, quilted leather.

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2021 Nissan Armada


The 2021 Nissan Armada is yet to be crash tested, but it has a full array of standard safety features.

How safe is the Nissan Armada?

The 2021 Nissan Armada should soon be crash tested by the NHTSA, and let’s hope it performs better than the 2020 model, which received disappointing three-star front and rollover ratings and a mediocre four-star overall rating. While it comes standard with plenty of safety equipment and big vehicles are generally safer than smaller ones, we can’t rate the Armada without crash tests. 

Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, a driver-attention monitor, adaptive cruise control, active blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, rear automatic braking, active lane control, and front and rear parking sensors. Also offered are a surround-view camera system and a rear camera mirror.

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2021 Nissan Armada


The 2021 Nissan Armada is a value in its base form.

The 2021 Nissan Armada is remarkably well equipped for its expected starting price. We rate it an 8 here for its generous standard features, smart list of options, and large-screen infotainment system.

Nissan offers the Armada in S, SV, SL, and Platinum models. Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive costs $3,000 more.

Which Nissan Armada should I buy?

The base S model is so well equipped that it’s the one we recommend. It starts just under $50,000 and comes standard with synthetic leather upholstery, heated 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a 12.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto compatibility, satellite radio, a wi-fi hotspot, wireless smartphone charging, navigation, LED fog lights, a trailer brake controller, and 18-inch alloy wheels. 

For about $5,000 more, the SL gets leather upholstery, driver’s seat memory, remote start, a sunroof, a Bose 13-speaker audio system, a power liftgate, trailer sway control, and 20-inch wheels.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Nissan Armada?

The Platinum model tops $66,000 and comes with quilted leather upholstery, cooled front seats, a rear entertainment system, power folding third-row seats, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 22-inch wheels. 

Armada infotainment

For 2021, Nissan arms the Armada with a new infotainment system that features a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen. A rotary dial that helped control that last system moves from the dash to the center console where it is easier to use. The large screen sits within easy reach and reacts quickly to inputs. It has no home button, though, and users need to use the lower rotary dial to switch out of the navigation screen to other menus.

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2021 Nissan Armada

Fuel Economy

The 2021 Nissan Armada is a big gas-guzzling brute.

Is the Nissan Armada good on gas?

It’s big, it’s blocky, and it’s powerful, so no, the Armada is not good on gas. The EPA rates the four-wheel-drive Armada at 13 mpg city, 18 highway, and 15 combined. That qualifies it as a 2 on our scale. 

Go with rear-wheel drive and the Armada isn’t quite as bad. It’s rated at 14/18/16 mpg. An aging engine is partially to blame here. Rivals like the Ford Expedition and Chevy Tahoe get 20 mpg on the highway.

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MSRP based on 4x2 S
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Styling 5
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Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 8
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