With grandeur befitting its namesake, the Armada is sure to impress anyone who has the pleasure of taking its wheel. Inside, there’s a whisper quiet cabin and luxurious materials covering nearly every inch. It doesn’t hurt that the Nissan also offers safety and reliability ratings at the top of its class. If you’re in the market for a large SUV, you should cross shop the Armada before you head to that Chevy or Ford dealer.
Very few SUVs can boast the refinement of the Armada with a sub 60 thousand dollar price tag. The top trim exceeds that by a few thousand yet offers every option you could possibly wish for, including a standard rear seat infotainment system and moonroof. Options that would cost you over $90k in an Escalade or several thousand more in a Tahoe. We think the Armada is an intriguing alternative to the staple American made truck-based SUVs.
The second generation Armada receives an improved 5.6 Liter V8 that now makes 75 more horses than the previous one, 390 horsepower. Torque also improved by 10 lb-ft at 395 lb-ft. The seven-speed automatic transmission receives improved gear ratios that translate to better fuel economy and quicker acceleration despite a few hundred more pounds of heft.
The Armada makes the trip from naught to sixty in a brisk 5.9 seconds, the same time as the Cadillac Escalade that’s equipped with a larger, more powerful V8. That’s impressive! It can also tow up to 8,500 lbs, less than the Tahoe and Expedition but still respectable.
Unlike the Expedition, the cabin is quiet and engine noise is well controlled, as are bumps by the four-wheel control arm suspension with steel springs. Steering is light and a bit overeager, so be careful.
There’s definitely some body lean and roll when taking turns with any amount of zest, but not any more than you’d expect from a large SUV. We think the Armada offers strong performance that easily makes it a strong Tahoe alternative.
Inside the Armada you’ll find opulence that echoes its Spanish Namesake. There’s soft touch leather on most surfaces, nearly all if you move up to the SV trim. The wood tone trim is so good it will be mistaken for the real thing by all but the most trained eyes. There are tons of actual buttons littering the console. Some reviewers find this look dated, others praise the functionality of actual buttons as a welcome respite from overly complicated touch based systems. The cockpit gives a commanding view of the road from an acoustically fortified cabin that might make you feel more important than a 16th-century naval captain. Armada jokes aside, it’s an impressive space to inhabit. The infotainment system is dated when compared with the Chevy Tahoe’s, but the standard 13-speaker Bose sound system with integrated subwoofer more than makes up for it. You can still stream audio via Bluetooth or the sole USB port in the console, what more could you need? Standard heaters in the seats keep front passengers warm.
Legroom in the front is a little more cramped than you’d think for an SUV of this size and the instrument panel is lower than usual. For most, it won’t be a problem, but taller drivers may find the ergonomics awkward. The second row, in contrast, has more legroom and headroom than any of the competition. Adult passengers will not mind being ferried around in these plush, reclining seats that are heated in the highest trim. The third row, like much of the competition, is best left to small children or short trips of necessity. Opt for the Platinum trim and you’ll get a rear passenger infotainment system dual 7 inch monitors sure to keep the kids distracted on long trips. That’s an excellent value because a similarly equipped Escalade can cost close to a hundred thousand dollars. Cargo capacity is average at just 16.5 cubes behind the last row, 49.9 behind the second, and up to 95.4 cubic feet with all rows folded. Sure it’s a few cubes less than some competitors, but it’s still a ton of available space. We’d rate the Armada as one of the better interiors in the large SUV segment, capable of holding its own against the American heavyweights.
Although the Nissan Armada is marketed as “all new” for 2016, it’s not really new at all. It has been on sale in many markets around the world under the “Patrol” badge since January 2010. Sure there are a few different components here and there, but it’s mostly the same SUV. The result is an SUV that’s beginning to look dated, especially when compared to the futuristic Murano. But the large SUV is an attractive alternative to the ubiquitous Tahoe by virtue of being different.
A commanding front end is decidedly more rugged looking on the Armada than the Patrol, thanks to a large lower intake dressed with a skid plate. Above, an oversized black grille with chrome trim and Nissan badge. On either side, large headlights trimmed with LED running lamps are shaped to complement the grille. The side profile is clean and simple with tall windows. There are chrome accented vents above the front wheels that look kind of cheap, one of the only weaknesses on an otherwise attractive angle. At the rear, there’s a bulbous rear bumper graced with yet another skid plate. Above, there are dated tail lights that look like they came out of a decade old “Performance” magazine. There’s darkly painted trim that wraps around the entire Armada to toughen up the overall aesthetic. The Armada isn’t a bad looking SUV but many of its features look as if they’ve been pulled from a Nissan parts bin rather than using the latest and greatest technology. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.
Unfortunately, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has never crash tested the Armada throughout its entire production. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash tested the Nissan Armada since 2010. Then, it received a 5-star front crash test rating and just a 3-star rollover rating. Side crash wasn’t tested. We imagine the safety profile has improved drastically in the several years since, which added several more airbags, advanced safety technology, and for 2016, a complete redesign. However, the Armada definitely has a high center of gravity and probably still deserves a 3-star rollover rating.
Given the close to three tons of heft, we think the Armada would perform admirably in all other crash test categories. It’s a big, sturdy truck that’s now loaded with airbags, including full side curtain and front row thoracic air bags. Nissan’s advanced safety technology is ranked “SUPERIOR” by the IIHS in other models. All of Nissan’s other SUVs received “Top Safety Pick+” designation in 2017 and we have no reason to believe the Armada would perform poorer, considering the manufacturer uses many of the same components and engineering processes. We think the Armada is at least as safe as direct competitors like the Chevrolet Tahoe.
Consumer Reports offers a predicted reliability score of 2 out of 5 with no detailed data available, meaning their rating is based on the brand as a whole rather than the specific SUV. The JD Power rating similarly awards the Armada with a 3 out of 5 predicted reliability rating without offering a justification. Well, we did our homework and it seems that neither of these ratings is very fair. The Armada has been around for over a decade and has had a rock solid reputation for reliability, with almost all of the complaints filed with NHTSA only on early models after several years on the road.
The most recent generation has one of the cleanest NHTSA records we’ve seen to date. So why does the Armada receive poor reliability ratings? We’re not quite sure, though there are some known issues across the Nissan lineup. Most are with the Xtronic continuously variable transmission and 3.5 Liter V6, neither of which are found in the Armada. However, there is a known issue with the EVAP system in Nissans that probably affects the Armada as well. If you’re getting poor fuel mileage or erratic fuel delivery, it may indicate you need the EVAP system cleaned, overhauled, or replaced. We haven’t found complaints of this specific to the Armada, but Nissan did issue a Technical Service Bulletin on the matter and included the Armada. All things considered, the Armada is one of the most reliable SUVs you can buy, especially when you consider the low-reliability ratings of its direct competitors.
Most people considering the Nissan Armada will also consider the Toyota Sequoia. The Sequoia hasn’t changed much in almost a decade and it’s beginning to show. When you compare the interior of the Armada to the Sequoia’s, the results are embarrassing. The Armada’s high-quality materials are a far cry from the Sequoia’s spartan interior made of hard plastic and more hard plastic. If you need an adult friendly third row, the Sequoia has a much better one. Fold the seats down and you get nearly 20 more cubes of cargo space in the Sequoia, though the Armada still has plenty for most applications.
Under the hood, you get a larger, 5.7 liter V8 that doesn’t make quite the power the Armada’s does. Furthermore, the EPA estimates of 13 miles per gallon city and 17 miles per gallon are even worse than the Armada. More rigid suspension may give the Sequoia a slight edge in handling. Only the rear suspension is independent, so the Armada is smoother on rough roads unless you opt for the top trim Sequoia that includes silk smooth air suspension. Speaking of top trims, the Sequoia's includes a single screen rear entertainment system that’s leagues behind the Armada’s dual screen, highly configurable 7-inch system. The Sequoia lacks the advanced safety technology that’s available in the Armada and hasn’t been crash tested by the NHTSA or IIHS(editor's note:this has changed for 2018). Meanwhile, the Armada receives exceptional safety ratings. The Sequoia receives higher reliability rating, but both are very reliable SUVs. We’d definitely pick the Armada over the Sequoia for its improved performance and superior refinement.
The Armada SV arrives lavishly equipped at $44,900 with a colossal 5.6 Liter V8, 18 inch aluminum alloy wheels with all-season tires, Nissan Direct Injection System, electronic drive-by-wire throttle, 7-speed automatic transmission with Tow/Haul Mode, 13.8 inch front and rear vented disc brakes, auto-leveling rear suspension, engine-speed-sensitive power steering, full-size spare tire, automatic on/off headlights, dark-painted roof rails, dark-painted running boards, dark-painted overfenders, chrome grille and door handles, power folding body-color outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, front and rear sonar system with 4 sensors, windshield and front side window UV-reducing solar glass, side and rear privacy glass, tow hitch receiver, Nissan Navigation System with 8 inch touch-screen monitor and Voice Recognition, NavTraffic and NavWeather provided by SiriusXM, Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, dual zone automatic temperature control, rear air conditioning with rear controls, rear seat heater ducts under front seats, in-cabin micro filter, RearView Monitor, tilt steering column, variable intermittent windshield wipers, intermittent rear window wiper, dual front map lights, dual second and third row reading lights, four 12-volt DC power outlets, transmission temperature gauge, sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors and extension, lockable glove compartment, cup holder lid for front center console, driver and front passenger seatback pockets, cargo-area storage under floor, cargo tie-down hooks, 8-way driver’s and front passenger’s seat with power lumbar support, heated front seats, second-row 60/40 split fold-down bench seat with tip-up easy entry for third row, cloth seat trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, wood-tone trim, black carpeting, 13-speaker Bose audio system including subwoofer, speed-sensitive volume control, USB connection port for iPod interface and other compatible devices, auxiliary audio input jack, auxiliary video input jacks, streaming audio via Bluetooth wireless technology, Radio Data System, illuminated steering wheel-mounted audio controls, Nissan Advanced Air Bag System with dual-stage supplemental front air bags with passenger sensors, side impact supplemental air bags, roof-mounted curtain side airbags, vehicle dynamic control with traction control system, Moving Object Detection, Active Brake Limited Slip, energy-absorbing steering column, Nissan vehicle immobilizer system.
The SL trim has an MSRP of $49,650 and adds 20 inch machine finished aluminum alloy wheels with all-season tires, fog lights, power folding chrome outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, heated outside mirrors with puddle lights, auto-dimming outside mirrors, 8 sensor front and rear sonar system, power liftgate, trailer brake pre-wiring, seven-pin wiring harness, remote engine start system, HomeLink universal transceiver, Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, rain-sensing windshield wipers, footwell lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 120-volt AC power outlet, memory settings for driver position, power third-row 60/40 split fold-down bench seat, leather-appointed seats, and leather appointed door trim with double stitching.
The Platinum trim tips the scale at $57,590, equipped with different 20 inch machine finished tinted aluminum alloy wheels, all season tires, power sliding glass moonroof with one touch open/close and tilt feature, Intelligent Cruise Control, windshield wiper de-icer, climate-controlled seats, heated second-row seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, tri-zone entertainment system with dual 7 inch monitors and two wireless headphones, predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking backup collision intervention, Blind Spot Warning, Blind Spot Intervention, and Distance Control Assist.