Emma Jayne Williams

Nissan Armada full-size SUV has plentyof room for the family, lots of technology


Special to the Star-Telegram

Nissan’s second-generation Armada full-size SUV starts at $45,600 (plus $1,195 freight) for 2018, and ranges to $61,950 for the top model, the Platinum four-wheel drive, shown here in the Forged Copper color. The big three-row SUV can tow trailers weighing up to 8,500 pounds, thanks to its 390-horsepower Endurance V-8 engine and seven-speed automatic transmission.
Nissan’s second-generation Armada full-size SUV starts at $45,600 (plus $1,195 freight) for 2018, and ranges to $61,950 for the top model, the Platinum four-wheel drive, shown here in the Forged Copper color. The big three-row SUV can tow trailers weighing up to 8,500 pounds, thanks to its 390-horsepower Endurance V-8 engine and seven-speed automatic transmission. Nissan

Nissan introduced the Armada in 2004 as the Pathfinder Armada, designed for the North American market. The “Pathfinder” part of the name was dropped for 2005.

Originally a seven-passenger SUV, Armada now offers eight-passenger seating.

The largest, most powerful vehicle in Nissan’s lineup, Armada earns flagship status with performance, refinement, and advanced technology.

Built for family adventures, Armada is a strong, durable, authentic full-size SUV with ruggedness to spare, as well as style, V-8 performance and lots of advanced safety and security features.

Armada features a 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 with best-in-class 390- horsepower. A Direct Injection Gas system improves fuel economy and emissions performance. Nissan’s advanced Variable Valve Event & Lift technology provides high performance and crisp response.

First-generation models had a five-speed automatic transmission. Second-generation models now have a seven-speed transmission to improve fuel economy, acceleration, and torque, along with an increase in horsepower from 317 to 390.

The all-mode four-wheel-drive system features auto/4H/4LO modes, under normal driving conditions operating in rear-wheel-drive mode, and distributing torque to all four wheels when road and weather conditions warrant.

Rugged body-on-frame construction provides strength, durability, and utility including the ability to tow up to 8,500 pounds for both 2WD and 4WD models.

EPA fuel economy ratings for 2WD models are 14 mpg city/19 highway/16 combined, while ratings for 4WD models are 13/18/15.

Slight changes and additions were made through the years, with the completely redesigned second generation introduced for 2017.

For 2018, Armada adds standard NissanConnect with Navigation and Services by SiriusXM, an eight-inch multi-touch display, HD Radio, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, Enhanced Voice Recognition, Hands-Free Text Messaging Assistant, and additional USB ports (two charge only, three charge with iPod connectivity) for all trim levels.

Armada is the first Nissan to include standard Intelligent Rear View Mirror (Platinum and Platinum Reserve models). I-RVM uses a camera at the rear of the vehicle to project a clear image to an LCD monitor in the rearview mirror, giving the driver the ability to “remove” interior obstacles such as oversize cargo, improve low-light visibility, reduce glare, and access an expanded rear field of view by flipping a switch on the bottom of the mirror.

A new Platinum Reserve trim ($62,190) adds Dark Chrome exterior trim (front grille, door handles, outside mirrors), 20-inch Dark Chrome wheels, two-tone leather seats with special stitching, unique Black Quartz and premium wood-tone interior trim, and embossed “Platinum Reserve” emblem on the console.

In addition to the new Platinum Reserve, Armada is available in SV ($46,090), SL ($50,850), and Platinum ($59,190) trims, all with a choice of 2WD or 4WD (adds $2,900). Each model builds on the previous, adding features, technology, and options.

For this review I drove an eye-catching Hermosa Blue (a shade of navy blue) eight passenger Armada Platinum with the Platinum Reserve Package ($3,000), which included Premium Black and Brown leather seats. The package also brought Dark Chrome exterior trim, license plate finisher, and 20-inch wheels; open-pore wood-tone interior trim; and Platinum Reserve badging.

The interior was striking, with black square-quilted seat inserts, contrast stitching and piping on the bolsters, plush door panels in brown, and wood on the dash and center stack.

Seven exterior colors are available, including Forged Copper, Mocha Almond, Gun Metallic and Pearl White ($395). Interior colors include Charcoal, Almond (cloth or leather, depending on trim), and Tan (Platinum leather only).

Armada for 2018 maintains the rugged, athletic image of the previous generation with contemporary style, with the bold V-motion front grille, standard LED low-beam headlights with halogen high beams and LED Daytime Running Lights. My Armada had standard fog lights and bold combination LED taillights.

The dark chrome auto-dimming side mirrors had driver memory, heat, and puddle lamps; the front fenders had functional air intake vents at the top; side windows were trimmed in chrome; and roof rails, fender flares, and side step rails were dark-painted.

My Armada had a power tilt/sliding moon roof, rain-sensing wipers with de-icer, a very convenient power liftgate, and a seven-pin wiring harness with trailer brake control pre-wired.

Standard seating included front eight-way power-adjustable heated/cooled bucket seats (with a large, roomy center console), a fold flat 60/40 heated second-row bench seat (40 inches of headroom, 41 inches of legroom), and a 60/40 power/folding third-row bench (folds flat into the floor for cargo flexibility). A Captain’s Chair option ($450) offers a removable second-row console, resulting in seven-passenger seating.

Dual-Zone Automatic Temperature Control with microfilter featured a second row “curtain” vent to ensure effective distribution of heated or cooled air.

A Family Entertainment System brought two eight-inch color displays on the back of the front headrests, two sets of wireless headphones, two VTR jacks, remote controller, and one HDMI input. The headphones offer cinema, music, and game sound modes for the ultimate experience. Three 12-volt and one 120-volt AC power outlet (on the rear of the front console) are available for powering mobile devices.

My Armada had eight cupholders, four bottle holders, front seatback pockets, front and rear door storage pockets and third-row side trays, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, front footwell and step lights, rear step light, Intelligent Around-View Monitor, and the Remote Engine Start System.

The cargo area behind the third row was 16.5 cubic feet; with the third row folded flat, 49.9 cubic feet; and with the second row folded (nearly flat), 95.4 cubic feet. I hauled a table and two high-back benches with lots of room to spare. A covered area under the cargo floor hid purses and other valuables, and eight cargo tie-down hooks allowed us to secure cargo.

A long list of safety and security features included Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Vehicle Security and Anti-Theft Systems, Vehicle Immobilizer System, Intelligent Distance Control, Automatic Emergency Braking with Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning with Intelligent Lane Intervention, Blind Spot Warning with Intelligent Blind Spot Intervention, Intelligent Back-up Intervention, and Intelligent Cruise Control.

Zone Body construction with front and rear crumple zones, hood-buckling creases and safety stops, energy-absorbing steering column, and high-strength side-door guard beams help protect occupants, along with all the standard air bags.

My Armada was comfortable and roomy, even in the third row, and quiet, thanks to acoustic glass on the windshield and front side windows and expanded use of sound absorption materials.

It was easy to drive, although a little hesitant on takeoff – it is a large vehicle. I had some issues with the navigation system – I couldn’t find the volume button for voice guidance, and data input for directions was frustrating. I put in the name of a POI, and the system repeatedly gave me only one option – over 200 miles away.

Carpeted floor mats added $300, Platinum Reserve added $3,000, and destination charges added $1,295 to the base price of $62,090, for a total delivered price of $66,695.

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