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:

  • Rearview camera
  • Eight-passenger seating
  • Leather upholstery
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • 8.0-inch touchscreen
  • Navigation system
  • Heated front seats
  • Power-folding third-row seat
  • Surround-view camera system
  • Power liftgate
  • 13-speaker Bose audio
  • Foglamps
  • 20-inch alloy wheels

Performance Pros

Nissan Armada
  • 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.

Performance Cons

  • 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.

Interior Pros

  • 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).

Interior Cons

Nissan Armada
  • 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.