In an automotive world increasingly filled with car-based "crossover" SUVs, the Nissan Armada stands out with its old-school body-on-frame construction. This rugged base gives the full-size, eight-passenger SUV respectable off-roading chops and a towing capacity of up to 9,000 pounds.
First introduced back in 2004, the Armada is getting on a bit in years but is still a good choice for those looking to do large amounts of people or cargo hauling. Nissan has also kept the big truck fresh with a series of updates throughout its life span, the most notable of which was a major interior overhaul in 2008. It replaced the old, garbage-can quality plastics with rich appointments that wouldn't look out of place in an Infiniti.
As one would expect from its gargantuan exterior dimensions, the Armada has no shortage of interior acreage. Space in generous for first and second-row passengers, although the third-row is best suited for children. Cargo room is 20.0 cubic feet with all three rows in place, 56.7 cubic feet with the third row folded and 97.1 cubic feet with just the first row seats in the upright position.
The Armada is based the platform used by Nissan's Titan full-size pickup. While these roots give the SUV its hauling and mudding capabilities, they also make for a clumsier driving experience than most crossovers offer.
Acceleration is more than adequate thanks to a standard 5.6-liter V8 that pumps out 317 horsepower and 385 lb-ft. The Armada's five-speed automatic has been surpassed in gears by the transmissions of some rivals, however, and it likely contributes to the SUV's dismal 13/19 mpg with two-wheel-drive (the standard drivetrain) and 12/18 with four-wheel-drive (which is optional).
The standard towing capacity is 6,200 pounds, while an optional Tow Package allows the Armada to haul a full 9,000 pounds.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Aramada is offered in SV, SL and Platinum trim levels.
Standard features for the base SV trim level include an 8-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar support, a vehicle information system with a seven-inch screen, dual zone automatic temperature control, rear air conditioning controls, power windows and door locks, cruise control, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, 18-inch alloy wheels and a tilt steering column.
Bumping up to the SL trim level starts with everything found on the SV model, but adds heated leather seats, a Bose audio system, 4-way adjustable power passenger's seat, power rear liftgate, Intelligent key entry and ignition, Bluetooth, Homelink Universal Transceiver, auto dimming mirror, 20-inch aluminum wheels and wood-tone trim. New standard equipment added for the latest model year includes USB and VTR jacks and Bluetooth connectivity.
The range-topping Platinum trim level continues upward in terms of content, adding a hard drive navigation system, a a DVD system with an eight-inch monitor and two wireless headphones, a moonroof, XM NavTraffic, an in-cabin microfilter, power flip-put rear windows, memory driver's seat, mirrors and pedals, heated second row seats, driver's exit memory system, 20-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
New for the latest model year is the Platinum Reserve package, which adds 20-inch dark chrome wheels, a dark chrome grille and outside mirrors, premium grade two-tone chocolate/almond leather-appointed seating and dark satin chrome interior accents
All Armada models come standard with dual front and side airbags in addition to three-row side curtain airbags and traction and stability control systems.
Nissan's very full-size Armada takes on the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, Toyota Sequoia, and even the Buick Enclave. Those shopping for a loaded Armada should moving up to the Infiniti QX56, which uses a newer platform and a more potent powertrain.