Emma Jayne Williams

Nissan’s redesigned Armada full-size SUV offers lots of features, seating for up to eight

Nissan's all-new second-generation Armada full-size SUV starts at $44,400 (plus freight). The big three-row SUV is now arriving at Nissan dealers nationwide.
Nissan's all-new second-generation Armada full-size SUV starts at $44,400 (plus freight). The big three-row SUV is now arriving at Nissan dealers nationwide. Nissan

The Nissan Armada for 2017 represents the final step in the transformation of Nissan’s SUV/crossover lineup, undertaken in the past three years with all-new Pathfinder, Murano and Rogue models.

Originally, the Armada was based on the chassis of the Titan full-size pickup, but the new generation traces back to the global Nissan Patrol model, dating to 1951 with service as a support vehicle for United Nations’ peacekeeping efforts.

This newest Armada, which is based on the same architecture as the Infiniti QX80 sport utility, is intended primarily for service as a strong, durable family work/fun full-size traditional sport utility.

Since the beginning, the Armada has featured rugged body-on-frame construction for strength, durability and utility – unlike other newer SUVs which have adopted a sedan-like unibody construction.

The sturdy steel frame is best for the big adventures Armada is made for. This generation brings wider side rails on the fully-boxed ladder frame – from 60 millimeters to 100 millimeters in certain areas – for a 20 percent increase in body stiffness to enhance handling and ride comfort.

As a bonus, a properly equipped Armada is capable of towing up to 8,500 pounds.

Armada is capable of seating up to eight passengers – seven with the optional second row captain’s chairs – and is now 1.2 inches longer on a wheelbase that is 2.1 inches shorter – but still 4.9 inches longer than major competitors. The new Armada is also 0.6 inches wider and 2.2 inches lower in height.

The largest, most powerful vehicle in Nissan’s SUV portfolio, Armada offers value and choice in three high-content models – SV, SL, and Platinum – with either rear- or four-wheel drive.

Prices range from $44,400 to $57,090, with 4WD adding $2,900 to any trim level.

Among the many standard features are Nissan Navigation with NavTraffic and NavWeather (SiriusXM subscription required), an 8.0-inch color display, heated front seats, and a 13-speaker Bose Audio System.

In addition to a fresh exterior design, Armada features enhanced performance from a new best-in-class 390-horsepower (up from 317 horsepower), 5.6-liter Endurance V-8, a new seven-speed automatic transmission, a comfortable full-feature cabin, and class-exclusive available safety and security features.

Those include an Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, Blind Spot Warning and Intervention, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, and Backup Collision Intervention.

Seven exterior colors are offered, including Mocha Almond, Hermosa Blue, and Pearl White (which adds $395). Interiors are available in cloth or leather, in Charcoal, Almond, or Tan. All choices depend on which model is chosen.

My Armada had an eye-catching Forged Copper exterior with Almond leather interior, riding on subtly attractive 20-inch premium machine-finished alloy wheels with six two-tone spokes – silver face with gloss-black pockets. Base price was $59,990.

A bold black signature Nissan V-motion front grille with wide chrome trim, and standard automatic on/off LED low-beam headlights with halogen high-beams and boomerang-style LED daytime running lights gave my Armada an aggressive stance, maintaining a rugged, athletic image with a contemporary touch.

Fog lights are standard on SL and Platinum, while all models have bold rear combination lights with LED taillights.

Chrome trim also accented the windows from the bottom of the A-pillars, along the lower edge to the high angle of the rear window, and back along the top of the windows to the top of the A-pillars and across the top of the windshield. Striking chrome-plated, powered electrochromic anti-dazzle side mirrors had memory settings, heat, and puddle lamps (standard on SL and Platinum).

Functional air intakes trimmed in chrome added to the athletic appearance, with dark-painted fender flares for an upscale, two-tone appearance.

The power liftgate had a bold chrome bar above the license plate, and body-color bumpers had silver-painted insets. Dark-painted roof rails could haul an optional 10-by-10 Hatch Tent ($360).

Heated/cooled front seats were especially plush and comfortable, adjusting eight ways, each with two-way lumbar adjustment, and memory for two drivers (including steering wheel and side mirrors).

They were separated by a large center console with wood trim from the top of the center stack to the plush cushioned armrest, covering a deep cubby with auxiliary inputs for the audio. The seats were double stitched, with brown piping on the bolsters.

The center console featured two large cupholders and one small bottle/cupholder with an area suitable for holding the bottle cap, plus a 12-volt outlet. There was a second 12-volt outlet on the lower center stack.

A separate cubby behind the shifter held a phone and had a USB port. Small touches of chrome added elegance to the entire cockpit, with wood across the upper dash onto the upper door panels. The leather door panel/armrest was plush, with puckered seams.

The standard 60/40-split second-row bench seat was replaced by optional easy-entry folding captain’s chairs ($450) with a removable wood-trimmed center console featuring two cupholders, a deep cubby, and a lower storage cubby for wireless headphones and remote for the standard DVD Family Entertainment System with two 7-inch headrest-mounted screens. The headphones had modes for cinema, music and game, for optimal sound.

Second-row passengers had heated seats and climate controls available on the back of the front console, along with a 12-volt outlet and auxiliary inputs. Headroom and legroom for the second row are best-in-class at 40 inches and 41 inches, respectively.

Third-row passengers had a 60/40 power-fold bench seat, which increased the cargo area when folded flat, and four cupholders. Legroom, however, was just 28.4 inches, with 36.4 inches headroom – barely enough for a short adult or middle school child.

Armada’s innovative cabin design helps create separate climate zones, with the Dual-Zone Automatic Temperature Control system with micro filter and a second-row “curtain” vent to help distribute cool air to every seat.

Acoustic glass on the windshield and front side windows, and extensive use of sound-absorption materials helped my Armada achieve “library level” interior quietness, and a new windshield design helped reduce wind noise on the highway.

The quiet interior helped us enjoy the rich, realistic sound of the Bose audio system with AM/FM/SXM/MP3/CD features. The eight-inch color touch-screen monitor was shared by the standard Nissan Navigation System with voice recognition, and the rearview camera image. The navigation system was simple and fast, with several ways to enter information for the desired destination.

Safety was addressed by roof-mounted side-curtain air bags with rollover sensors for all three rows; front seat-mounted side air bags, LATCH hookups for child seats, Intelligent Cruise Control/Distance Control Assist, Forward Emergency Braking, and Lane Departure Warning and Departure Prevention.

Comfort and convenience features included remote engine start, heated steering wheel, front rain-sensing wipers with heated de-icer, auto-dimming rearview mirror with universal garage/gate opener, privacy glass, side step rails, and footwell lights.

My Armada also had a Carpeted Floor Mat package for $300, a prewired Trailer Brake Control, a receiver hitch with seven-pin wiring harness, Hill Start Assist, and full-size spare tire under a shallow storage tray under the cargo floor.

We enjoyed driving and riding in the beautiful, comfortable, very versatile Armada so much we didn’t want to give it back.

Adding $995 destination charges and $750 in options, the total price for my Armada was $61,735.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.