Nissan Armada — Rugged V-8 luxury

By David Finkelstein

Assembled and imported to the U.S. from Nissan's manufacturing facility in Kyushu, Japan, the Armada full-size SUV is available in SV, SL, Platinum and Platinum Reserve models for 2018. Either 2WD and 4WD drive configurations are offered, depending on your personal preference.

In addition to the standard features on the Armada SV, the Armada SL adds Nissan Intelligent Key, Remote Engine Start System, power 60/40 3rd row seating, Intelligent Around View Monitor, rear power lift-gate hatch as well as 20-inch wheels and tires. Furthermore, the Armada Platinum series now includes their overhead power-sliding moonroof, front climate controlled seats, a delightful family entertainment system, Nissan Safety Shield technologies and the new Intelligent Rear View Mirror system.

The high tech rear view mirror uses a high-resolution camera mounted on the rear of the vehicle to project a clear image onto an LCD monitor built into the rear view mirror itself. A switch located at the bottom of the mirror allows the driver to access either the traditional rear view style mirror or the new Intelligent electronic rear view mirror.

The new top-of-the-line Platinum Reserve model offers Dark Chrome exterior trim which is found on the vehicles front grille assembly, exterior door handles and outside door mirrors as well as on the 20-inch Dark Chrome wheels. The sport utility also comes with two-tone leather-appointed seats and interior trim with unique stitching of which reflects the Platinum Reserve version. Four option packages are offered from the factory. It can also be ordered with a trailer towing harness and pre-wired (with connector assembly) for an electronic trailer towing brake controller unit.

The Captain's Chairs Seat Package (Platinum and Platinum Reserve only) replaces the 2nd row bench seat with 2nd row Captain's Chairs and a center console with a padded armrest. Also available is their attractive premium Pearl White paint landscape exterior.

The Premium Package (SL trim) includes Intelligent Cruise Control along with an Intelligent Distance Control system and Automatic Emergency Braking. Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Intelligent Back-up Intervention and power sliding moonroof with front tilt also helps to frame their Premium package upgrade.

The Armada includes standard NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM. In part, it uses an 8-inch multi-touch display screen plus it has HD Radio, SiriusXM Travel Link with three years of trial access (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately), Enhanced Voice Recognition, Hands-Free Text Messaging Assistant, and additional USB ports for all grade levels.

As the largest and most powerful vehicle in the Nissan portfolio, its standard 5.6-liter Endurance V8 engine has best-in-class 390 commanding horsepower. Engine torque is rated at 394 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. The eight cylinder powerplant is nicely matched with a heavy-duty/refined 7-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle's 26-gallon fuel tank provides an extended driving range.

Fuel economy is rated at 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway/16 mpg combined with the 2-wheel-drive models. Armada all-wheel-drive fuel economy is rated at 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway/15 mpg combined. When properly equipped, the vehicle itself has a notable towing capacity of 8,500 pounds, for either the 4WD or the 2WD models.

Armada's rugged body-on-frame construction with its  bold, aggressive and robust exterior design footprint can be a bit intimidating. On the other hand, I think a road test will quickly put your concerns of this brawny vehicle to rest.

The front fenders include functional air intake vents. Chrome-plated, electro-chromic side mirrors with memory plus puddle lamps are standard on SL, Platinum and Platinum Reserve grades. The liftgate includes an auto-closure feature and available power function. Its standard on SL, Platinum and Platinum Reserve, optional on SV models.

Other exterior features include body color front and rear bumpers, black color grille with chrome trim accents, chrome trim side window moldings, chrome door handles, privacy glass, dark-painted fender openings and side step rails. Dark-painted roof rails and front and rear parking sensors are also included. Available are rain-sensing front windshield wipers and a front wiper de-icer system.

Armada's durable independent double-wishbone front and rear suspension provides smooth ride comfort and responsive handling for both on-road and off-road driving. The breaking system is positive and very capable. Armada roomy passenger cabin combines style, roominess and premium interior comfort. This includes an emphasis on quietness and “quick” interior cooling and heating climate control.

The standard seating configuration includes front 8-way power-adjustable bucket seats with large center console, 2nd row fold flat 60/40 split bench seat and 3rd row 60/40-split folding bench seat. The third row seats fold flat into the floor for extra cargo carrying flexibility. The standard Bose audio system features AM/FM/SXM/MP3/CD system with subwoofer speakers and a digital amplifier to provide rich and realistic sound. Navigation is also standard on all trim levels.

At road test, the 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum with 4WD I drove had an MSRP of $63,095. This included shipping charges of $1,195.