The large SUV segment is filled with vehicles that are a little long in the tooth. Manufacturers have done just enough to keep up with changing exterior and interior design, but the vehicles’ powertrains, chassis, and technology aren’t quite up to snuff with the most modern of today’s lineups.
Two years ago, Nissan North America, a division of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (TYO: 7201), switched their version of the Armada to the Patrol platform, giving the vehicle the same underpinnings as the Infiniti QX80, and the Armada became a global vehicle.
For this review, I drove the 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum trim with four-wheel drive. The model that arrived for testing had an MSRP of $63,195 with $310 optional carpeted floor mats and $1,295 in destination and delivery charges on top of the base price.
The exterior of the Armada is unique. Its front end has design cues from the Infiniti QX80 while retaining some of the beef that the Armada has been known for throughout the years. A bulbous protruding rear bumper makes you wonder why they decided to go with that design rather than something that could give a buyer more cargo space.
The SUV’s Decherd, Tenn.-made 5.8-liter V8 engine is a bright spot, giving the Armada plenty of power whether you’re just cruising through town or attempting to pass a hoard of summer vacationers driving their Chevrolet Uplanders to Disney World and holding fast at the posted speed limit on the highway. The engine delivers 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, while being mated with a seven-speed automatic transmission.
The tester model of the SUV achieves 15 mpg combined while the two-wheel drive variant does slightly better at 16 mpg combined. Neither numbers are stellar and they’re below what other vehicles in the class achieve. The Armada has a 26-gallon fuel tank meaning you can get over 400 miles of range out of the SUV but, based on current gas prices, you’ll pay around $80 to fill it up at the pump.
Some parts of the Armada’s interior are only slightly dated while others appear downright past their prime. The leather appointed seats in the first and second row are spacious and comfortable. You and your family will have plenty of space to undertake a road trip or a school run with ease. Its third row is best for small children or the dog. Heated and ventilated seats came standard in the Platinum trim but were controlled by a tiny knob at the bottom of the center stack that made it difficult to tell which setting, if any, the seats were set on.
Nissan has given the Armada ruched leather door panel inserts that look more like something you’d find in a vintage cathouse than what’s inside better-appointed large SUVs. Dark gray plastic finds its home in numerous touch points throughout the cabin where piano black or silver finishing often fill the landscape. This extends to the wheel, which is practically begging at this point to be replaced by something more stylish and functional, like what is in the 2018 Nissan Rogue.
However, no matter how unattractive or outdated looking you may find the interior of the Armada, it’s important to note that most everything works as advertised and is easy to use.
The materials of the center stack are dated looking and though the display’s audio screen is pleasing to the eye, the navigation/mapping screen is not. Controlling the functions of the screen is not intuitive and requires the use of a central control knob though functions such as volume controls and scan use knobs much further down the stack.
The vehicle’s cargo space is reasonable but there’s not as much back there as what you’ll get in an Expedition or Suburban. The second and third row seats fold flat to maximize cargo capacity. A power-folding third-row is available.
The Armada is equipped with a number of standard safety technologies, each work as advertised, though they aren’t modern in their styling nor in their alert style. The Armada would benefit greatly from a head up display that features the alerts in much the same fashion as new Genesis models.
I found the 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum 4WD to be generally agreeable, albeit with some flaws that, while notable, should not automatically disclude the Armada from your purchase consideration. It is ready for adventure, can tow 8,500 pounds, and is a comfortable family hauler. It is pricey, but so is its competition.