Nissan’s biggest wagon continues to provide a lot of SUV for the money, especially for those who need plenty of go-power for hauling. That potential includes carrying up to eight passengers in its three rows of seats. Or, hauling a mass of cargo in its cavernous cabin, with all of those seats folded down.
Towing a trailer or boat is another merit, thanks to the Armada’s V8 powertrain, which is even brawnier than before. Among full-size SUVs, the Armada just might be more of a value than its substantial starting price suggests.
What's New For 2017
Nissan has redesigned the Armada, giving it a more powerful, direct-injected V8 engine and new seven-speed automatic transmission as well as fresh exterior styling. Like its predecessor, the second-generation model has body-on-frame construction. The fully boxed ladder frame has been expanded from 60-millimeter width to 100 millimeters. Measuring 1.2 inches longer than before, on a slightly shorter wheelbase, the 2017 Armada features a V-motion grille, LED low-beam headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillights.
Newly available safety features include predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, lane-departure prevention and warning, blind-spot warning and intervention, backup collision intervention, a rearview camera, and an Around View monitor with moving-object detection. All are standard on the Platinum edition.
Choosing Your Nissan Armada
Armada buyers all get the same engine and transmission: a new 5.6-liter V8 that generates 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, driving a new seven-speed automatic transmission. Nissan claims best-in-class power. The previous-generation 5.6-liter V8 made 301 horsepower, working with a five-speed automatic. The new automatic includes adaptive shift control and downshift rev matching.
Trim levels differ primarily by equipment level and appointments, though certain features are exclusive to each grade. Nissan also claims best-in-class second-row headroom and legroom. Towing capacity, when properly equipped, is 8,500 pounds. Available safety options include "intelligent" cruise control.
As expected from a big SUV, fuel economy is not a strong point. The EPA estimates the rear-drive Armada at 14 mpg in city driving and 19 on the highway (16 mpg combined). Four-wheel drive knocks 1 mpg off each figure.
As before, three trim levels are offered, each with a choice of rear-drive or four-wheel drive.
Armada options, depending on trim level, include a moonroof, climate-controlled front seats, a family entertainment system, remote starter, power third-row seat, power liftgate, and 20-inch wheels.
Because newer rivals are more refined, the Armada might make more sense as a workhorse than a premium-level conveyance for passengers. Therefore, logic tends to dictate sticking with the more basic SV edition. That said, the SL adds a lot of amenities that would cost thousands more on a similarly equipped Chevrolet Tahoe or Ford Expedition. So, that might be the Armada buyer's sweet spot.
Redesigned for 2017, Nissan’s large three-row SUV is now an American offshoot of the company’s Patrol SUV, sold elsewhere in the world and highly regarded for its desert prowess. Closely related to the more luxurious INFINITI QX80, Nissan’s Armada retains a separate body and frame, and comes with either seven- or eight-passenger seating capacity.
Pricing and Equipment
Starting at $45,995 (destination charge included), the reworked Armada comes in three trim levels: SV, SL, and Platinum. A new 5.6-liter Endurance V8 engine develops 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque (an increase of 73 hp and 9 lb-ft). A seven-speed automatic transmission has replaced the prior five-speed. Rear-drive is standard, while the optional four-wheel drive has low-range gearing.
Standard equipment on the Armada SL ($50,745) includes:
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Heated front seats
Power-folding third-row seat
Surround-view camera system
13-speaker Bose audio
20-inch alloy wheels
Abundant power, both when starting off and for passing/merging.
Ample towing capability: up to 8,500 pounds. Off-road potential also is a bonus, helped by low-range gearing and hill descent control.
Downshift rev matching on the new seven-speed automatic promises more efficient gear changes.
Ride quality is relatively good.
An undeniably big and heavy vehicle, which detracts from maneuverability.
Fuel economy: EPA-estimated at only 14 miles per gallon city, 19 highway, 16 combined with rear-drive.
Sluggish handling. Steering is slow, though sufficiently direct. Body lean is noticeable in curves and corners. In short, the Armada provides typically subpar large-SUV handling, though it’s better controlled than some competitors.
Plenty of room for people and their luggage. Choice of eight-passenger capacity with second-row bench, or seven-passenger when captain’s chairs are installed instead. Both rear-row seatbacks are split 60/40. Front seats are comfortable, and Nissan claims best-in-class second-row head and leg space.
Quiet cabin. Engine sounds are muted while cruising, but clearly audible when accelerating hard. Windshield and front side windows use acoustic glass.
Interior material quality is impressive.
Generous cargo space, even compared to similar-size vehicles: 95.4 cubic feet with second- and third-row seatbacks folded down (49.9 with second-row upright).
Third-row seat is definitely snug, with limited head and leg room, though not difficult to access.
Limited adjustment range for driver’s seat. The driver sits relatively high (which could be a pro, too).
The Most Pleasant Surprise
Adopting a completely different foundation clearly helped Nissan improve the comfort qualities of its biggest SUV, including what’s claimed to be “library levels” of cabin noise. More substantial interior materials and greater amenities let upper versions rival luxury vehicles.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Only Platinum trim includes a full group of active-safety features, including lane-departure warning and active lane control. For the SL, a Technology package must be purchased to get such items as blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking.
The Bottom Line
More modern and considerably different in appearance than the first-generation model, which evolved from the big Titan pickup truck, the redone Armada flaunts a bulky, masculine overall look. Some luxury cues and softer shapes are evident, though, akin to the INFINITI QX80.