The Nissan Armada is a large SUV that’s been around for nearly 12 years. For 2017 it’s finally getting the update it deserves. How does this new model compare to the old one? We take a look in this exclusive review — both on-road and off.
In 2004 President George W. Bush won his second term in office, Shrek 2 ruled the box office and Nissan introduced its new large SUV, the Armada.
The Armada was built on the Titan truck platform, with a gas hungry V8 that put out 317-horsepower. As competition advanced, the Armada remained stuck in the past, with outdated features and styling.
Finally, Nissan decided it was time to revitalize the Armada brand.
As you would expect in a large, 8-passenger SUV, the rear trunk holds a massive amount of cargo. Folding the second row up is a one-handed affair. With a push of a button the third row reveals itself. Third-row access has also been improved with simple flip-forward seats and a lower seating position than the previous model.
Like all third rows, the seats are cramped for full-size adults. The second row, however, is quite comfortable. Since this is a Platinum model it’s especially nice. With a large center console that takes the place of a center seat position. Headliner vents. And, optional video and audio inputs to give the second row control over their own multimedia experience.
If the other seats are coach and steerage, the front row is certainly first-class. Beautifully crafted leather wraps the zero-gravity memory seats. Feaux wood trim extends the warm and inviting environment throughout the cabin. Compared to the old Armada, this is a whole new world of comfort.
Push the start button and this all-new Armada starts to show off the fact that it’s not really all new. The main gauge cluster’s monochrome center display is the first indication. The second is the top-end navigation system. Yes, it checks all the boxes in terms of basic functionality. But the now archaic interface, not to mention the complete lack of Apple CarPlay or even Android Auto reminds us that the global Patrol it’s based on is, itself, not all new for 2017. Compared to the system found in the new Titan trucks, this one looks like it’s still stuck in the George W. Bush era.
A disappointing turn for such a promising rig.
It does feature surround-view cameras and a back-up camera, so it does have that going for it. Other amenities include parking radars as well as heated and cooled seats, both of which are par for course in this class.
But, where other large SUVs focus on fashion and features, there is at least one huge benefit from the Armada being based on a global off-road platform… and that’s in the all-wheel drive system. This main dial controls the dual-range gearbox, with additional modes to tackle any conditions. We’ll see if it’s worth its salt later in this review.
The engine is a huge improvement over the outgoing model. This is the same Endurance V8 found in the 2017 Titan Pickup. It features 390hp and 394 lbs-ft of torque. Better yet, that torque is smooth across the RPM range, giving it a much better usable curve. That engine combined with this proven chassis means the new Armada can tow 8500 lbs without needed any special tow package.
One of Nissan’s goals was to not just make the new Armada more powerful, they also wanted to make it more comfortable to drive. To this end, Nissan improved sound deadening, which makes it remarkably quite even when at speed on a highway. They also made the Bose stereo and the Navigation system standard equipment – which is good, because I’d feel bad if anyone had to pay extra for such an ancient navigation system.
The dual wishbone rear suspension tracks confidently and body roll is minimal thanks to nicely calibrated twin tube shocks on all four corners. But to be the complete package, this Armada is going to have to prove itself on more than just California highways…
Not to mess around, I immediately switched the Armada into 4-low and headed off into the rough.
Even though the Armada isn’t as new under the skin as, say, the Range Rover HSE, it was still able to tackle even this challenging course without getting its panties in a bind. The all-wheel drive system sent power to the corners that needed power and even with tipping and turning, it never creaked or groaned. It was, in fact, a solid performance and one worthy to earn this rig an an offroad-approved badge.
What we’ll call the “new to North America” 2017 Armada will start at $45,395 when it hits dealers later this year. Expect to pay significantly higher for the upscale Platinum grade we reviewed here. If you’re looking for an attractive, large, three-row SUV and you treasure capability over advanced entertainment and electronics, the 2017 Nissan Armada is a solid choice.
For Driving Sports TV, I’m Ryan Douthit. Thanks for watching.