Big on power. The 2020 Nissan Armada would like to spin its decade spent on the market as experience, not old age. It comes from a time when naturally aspirated V8 engines powered many SUVs, and a big box on wheels was all anyone needed.
In some ways, it’s not wrong. The Armada’s 5.6-liter V8 is there when you need it, and it helps the big SUV tow a whopping 8,500 pounds. Short of buying a pickup, that’s as strong a vehicle as you’re likely to find.
The seven-speed automatic transmission is equally simple and reliable. All-wheel drive is optional, and the Armada even has decent off-road chops.
But of course, old-school approaches come with old-school penalties. With all-wheel drive, the Armada manages just 15 miles per gallon combined, according to the EPA, which is atrocious by today’s standards.
Big on comfort. The Armada shares its bones with the more luxurious INFINITI QX80, but we’re not sure the difference is as big as Nissan intended. The Armada feels like a quality product inside, even in base trim.
It starts with cloth upholstery, but it still feels upscale. Soft-touch materials are the norm, along with low-sheen surfaces, convincing fake wood, and an attractive dash. It’s a nice place to spend time.
Capping it off is a suspension calibrated for smooth sailing. Unless you opt for the 22-inch rims, that is – those spoil the ride, but such is the price of vanity.
Just plain big. The Armada’s greatest strength (and possibly greatest weakness) is its size. For a true full-size SUV, it offers excellent space at a decent value.
Seats are large and comfortable, and passengers are spoiled by acres of room in the first two rows. Even the third row is larger than that of many three-row SUVs, although adults may still get uncomfortable.
Cargo capacity is excellent by most standards, with 50 cubic feet behind the first two rows. The Armada loses out to rivals like the Chevy Suburban, but we doubt most owners could tell the difference.
The price of all that space comes in the drive. The heavy body leans its way through curves, slowed further by the plush suspension. Worryingly, the NHTSA rated the Armada at three stars in its rollover test.
Best in base. To get the best value from the Armada, it’s best to stick close to home. The Nissan starts at thousands less than rivals from Ford and Chevy, and it comes well equipped.
That includes Bose speakers, navigation, and a full suite of active safety features. Automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control are both standard, which is more than we can say for some rivals.
The major letdown is the infotainment system, which is one place where the Armada truly shows its age. The 8-inch touchscreen in the dash looks modern enough, but it runs old software with no smartphone compatibility. That’s too bad because the small screen in the gauge cluster does the driver no favors.
The next step up adds real leather upholstery and some creature comforts, but that’s as far as we’d recommend going in the lineup. Platinum and Platinum Reserve trims add luxury features that boost the price by tens of thousands of dollars, at which point the luxury competition starts to look much more desirable.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Nissan Armada may be on its way to relic status, but it does an admirable job playing to its strengths. A strong V8 never goes out of style, and the interior is spacious and well appointed. A friendly starting price doesn’t hurt.
All the same, we can’t see the Armada luring too many buyers away from the establishment. A full-size SUV is a major commitment, and most want one with modern infotainment and fuel economy better than a Hummer’s. The Armada is best for those who need the towing power, and best near the beginning of its lineup.
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