Even though SUVs are by far the most popular passenger vehicles on the market today, there are remarkably few full size options to choose from. All the GM brands offer different implementations of the same SUV, and the same is true of Ford. That leaves only Toyota and Nissan, and both of those offer upscale options through their Lexus and Infiniti brands. So, really, there are four basic full-size SUV platforms to choose from, and most of the choices available to consumers are in the exterior styling and interior treatment.
Among those available choices, the Nissan Armada stands out for its value and functionality. Nissan has equipped the Armada with plenty of luxury features as well as the same capable drivetrain that you find in the rugged Titan pickup truck.
Full-size SUVs are notable because they still use a traditional body-on-frame chassis structure. This improves their towing and cargo loading capacity, and it allows for the same kind of dual-range four-wheel-drive systems that are found on pickup trucks but not found on lighter crossover SUVs with all-wheel-drive. The main differences are the availability of low-range gears and the fact that dual-range 4WD systems are usually part-time, meaning that the vehicle usually drives the rear wheels unless the driver selects four-wheel-drive.
In the case of the Armada, you can have the best of both worlds. There's an Automatic 4WD mode that engages the front wheels as needed when traction is required. You can put the Armada into automatic 4WD mode and leave it there all the time.
Under the hood, the Armada is powered by Nissan's long-proven 5.6-liter V8 engine, rated at a conservative 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. With the Armada's seven-speed automatic transmission, the Armada is quicker than you might expect for a vehicle of this size, and it will tow up to 8,500 pounds of trailer. You can also load up to 1,634 pounds and 95.4 cubic feet of cargo volume, with all the rear seats folded down.
The Armada will seat up to eight passengers with a second-row bench seat, or seven people if you opt for individual second-row bucket seats with a center console at $650. The third row is standard, but it's not large. Still, it's nice to have three rows if you need to haul the soccer team occasionally.
The thing to note about the interior of the Armada is that it's more luxurious and comfortable than you might expect in the economy trims. The upscale Platinum trim that we tested is every bit as nice as you'll find in the Armada's upscale cousin, the Infiniti QX80. If you're hauling boisterous kids, the Platinum trim also includes twin 8-inch displays in the second row entertainment system with separate wireless headphone sets. Up front, your seats are heated and ventilated, and the steering wheel is also heated.
The Armada has been given a light design refresh for 2021, so it looks new and stylish. You'll find a large 12.3-inch touchscreen display on the dash, with standard Navigation and Bose audio included on the higher trim levels. New for 2021, wireless phone charging is included as standard on all trim levels.
As if all that wasn't enough, the best part of the Armada value proposition is in the automatic driver assistance and safety systems. Adaptive cruise control, lane keeping, collision warning with automatic braking, sonar parking assist, reverse automatic braking, high beam assist, and a blind spot monitor with intervention are all standard on all trims. Depeing on the trim level, you get a rear-view or 360-degree-view camera, trailer brake controller with sway assist, and traffic sign recognition. It all amounts to a state-of-the-art tech package, and all the most important parts are available on the base trim, starting at $52,900.
The bottom line on the Nissan Armada is that if you're shopping full-size SUVs, you have every reason to take a good look at this offering. You won't get more features from any other manufacturer at the same price point.
2021 Nissan Armada 4X4 Platinum
Base price: $68,000
Price as tested: $70,465
Type: Full size SUV
Engine: 5.6-liter V8 (400 hp, 413 lbs-ft)
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 13/18
Overall length: 209 inches
Curb weight: 5,958 pounds
Final assembly: Kyushu, Japan
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