When you need to move an armada of any sort, you could do worse than to recruit the 2018 Nissan Armada. As big as a house and with the towing capacity to match, this body-on-frame Nissan has no trouble tackling any job asked of it – except for returning decent fuel economy. Though guzzling all the gas that's saved by Nissan's electric Leaf isn't one of the Armada's best selling points, the notable traits it does possess – namely size, space, and towing ability – give it a place and purpose on dealer lots and in buyer's driveways.

Best Value

With a 15-20 thousand-dollar spread between the base model and the ritziest, it's not hard to push the final sticker price of the Armada a little too close to the mechanically-identical INFINITI QX80. That doesn't mean a middle ground between bare-bones and decked-out doesn't exist, though. It does, and it is called SL. Among it's standard niceties are leather upholstery, auto-dimming mirrors, a power liftgate, 20-inch wheels, and a surround-view camera. To that we'd add the Premium Package, as we feel the included active safety features are well worth the $2,200 up-charge. Here's our Armada as it would look on delivery day:

  • Model: 2018 Nissan Armada SL
  • Engine: 5.6-liter V8
  • Output: 390 hp / 394 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Seven-speed automatic transmission
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • MPG: 13 City / 18 Hwy
  • Options: Four-wheel drive ($2,900), Premium Package ($2,200, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, and power sunroof)
  • Base Price: $52,145 (including $1,295 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$54,345

Performance

Nissan Armada

Just as an ordinarily lumbering elephant can be surprisingly fast when agitated, the standard 5.6-liter V8 can unexpectedly propel the nearly 6,000-pound Armada with undue haste. While Nissan doesn't have official 0-60 mph stats, our colleagues over at the The Car Connection clocked one of these bruisers doing that run in under seven seconds. This feat can no doubt be credited to the 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque put out by the big-displacement eight-cylinder, and is also is why the Armada can tow up to 8,500 pounds.

Massive size and impressive trailer-lugging credentials do come with inherent limitations, though. Unsurprisingly, the big problem is the handling, or rather the lack of it. The Armada is ponderous and sluggish when the road isn't linear, and overall is a bit of a bear to drive. if you're looking for superior road manners, there are more compelling choices on the market (we're looking at you, Ford Expedition).

The other major issue attributable to its size and capability is fuel economy. Simply put, the Armada sucks down fuel with blatant disregard; even the most light-footed drivers shouldn't expect to break 20 miles per gallon under any conditions. The official EPA mileage estimates as per Nissan are 14 miles per gallon city, 19 highway and 16 combined for rear-wheel-drive models, and an even more abysmal 13/18/15 for four-wheel-drive versions.

Style

Outside, the Armada doesn't do much to disguise it's traditional two-box SUV shape, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are no overwrought character lines or overtly-aggressive fascias, and there are few tacky details to muddle the overall cohesiveness of the design (though we're not huge fans of the prominent fake front-fender vents). The top-line Platinum Reserve boasts specific dark-chrome grill, mirrors, and door handles to distinguish itself as the alpha-Armada.

The cabin is just as innocuous as the exterior, but is decked out with quality materials and modern amenities that make it a luxurious place to spend quality time in over long distances. Notable standard features throughout the Armada lineup include an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, SiriusXM radio, dual-zone climate control, ten way power driver's seat and eight-way power passenger seat, and a 13-speaker Bose sound-system system. Despite being well-equipped, there are a few quibbles to contend with. These include the outdated infotainment software that can be frustrating to operate and a center stack that suffers from button-overload.

For anyone considering one an Armada, space is no doubt a priority. In that regard, the biggest Nissan certainly delivers. There's ample room for the first two rows, but the third row is probably best left to children if the drive covers more than city limits. There's also plenty of cargo space: 16 cubic feet behind the third row, and nearly 50 cubes with that most rearward row folded down. Lay the second row flat, and you'll have almost 100 cubic feet of space to play with.

The Best and Worst Things

The well-equipped Armada offers excellent value. It's starting price of $47,385 (including destination charge) undercuts competitors such as the Tahoe and Expedition while including a laundry list of standard features.

But the fuel economy is appalling. That 20 miles per gallon is only a dream even when wafting unburdened down an interstate is disappointing in this day and age of cylinder deactivation, direct injection, and ten-speed transmissions. It underscores the relatively archaic underpinnings and running gear the Armada is saddled with.

Right For? Wrong For?

Nissan Armada

For those frequently hauling lots of cargo and people, or regularly hitching up a trailer and taking to the highway, the Armada makes sense.

Anyone who wants to do the above but not spend whole paychecks at the pump would do well to look to the Armada's competitors. A rear-drive Tahoe, for instance, nets 23 mpg on the highway; an Expedition will return 24 in those same conditions. And if you aren't planning on towing, why not just buy a crossover and save some fuel?

The Bottom Line

With impressive features at an enticing base price, the Armada represents a strong full-size SUV that can pull a mountain while hauling the kids and all their classmates to school. If you can live with the additional fuel costs, this Nissan will certainly make for a dependable and capable workhorse that's ready for both work and play.