Entry Price: $46,090
Price as Tested: $66,195
This week, we’re driving one of the biggest SUV’s on the road, the 2018 Nissan Armada 4WD. Although the entry Armada starts at $46,090 in 2WD trim, which is the recommended start point for prospective consumers, the top line Platinum 4WD, our tester for the week, starts at $61,500 and is near fully loaded.
With similarities to sibling luxury SUV Infiniti QX80 4WD, which we tested last year, this year’s Armada still shares several of the big Infiniti components, including an upgraded 7-speed automatic transmission with downshift rev match and a new chassis. The two-inch shorter chassis is the global “Patrol” unit that features a fully independent suspension for enhanced comfort while still delivering the needed strength that body-on-frame builds demand. Gone is the older rough riding Titan truck chassis, which previously served as Armada underpinnings.
With a final assembly point in Los Angeles, Armada for 2018 is powered by powerful and fuel thirsty Endurance V8. However, to be fair, when you shop the full-size to gigantic SUV class where towing, passenger and cargo abilities are priorities, there aren’t any gas powered vehicles out there that deliver excellent fuel mileage. Thus, all manufacturers of the big SUVs struggle in the MPG area as moving three-tons with authority takes plenty of V8 power.
Under the hood sits the above mentioned Endurance 5.6-liter V8 that delivers 390-horses and best-in-class towing of 8,500 pounds for both the 4WD and rear 2WD models. So, with 394 lb. ft. of torque available, serious towing or transporting up to 8-passengers in comfort is a breeze. Armada delivers 13 city and 18 highway in 4WD dress and 14 and 19, respectively, for the 2WD Armada.
For 2018, Armada adds standard Nissan Connect services with SiriusXM, 8-inch multi-touch display, Bose 13-speaker setup, HD radio, SiriusXM travel link with three years free service, voice recognition, hands-free text, and five USB ports. Notable is all Armada Platinum and Platinum Reserve models now feature a flip-of-the-switch intelligent rear view mirror that delivers high resolution images on the LCD monitor built into the rear view mirror. Additionally, a movie or video game in just seconds away as a dual 8-inch monitor entertainment system is standard and includes a DVD player with remote control, two wireless headphones and that fifth USB/HDMI input.
Our tester was a Platinum Reserve model as this sole option costs an additional $3,000 and adds Bridgestone 20-inch tires on dark chrome wheels, dark chrome grille, dark chrome door handles, and matching outside mirrors. Further, a two-tone leather interior with unique stitching and Platinum Reserve logos is standard, as are black quartz highlights and special wood trim that makes spending time in the interior a most luxurious experience. A Platinum Reserve exterior badge on the rear deck lid lets everyone know the interior is super-duper.
On the road, the 390-horse V8 allows Armada to motivate with authority while the 4WD system is a computer controlled 2-speed transfer case with a 4-low lock and automatic 4x4 modes. When in automatic mode, traction is distributed to wheels that need it most but never more in front than in back to prevent torque steer.
The Patrol suspension/chassis features fully independent double wishbone setups front and rear and when you need to tow, (and tow it will) a 7-pin wiring harness is ready for your brake controller. The rear bumper tow hitch accepts all trailer hookups and there’s also a transmission “tow/haul” mode switch to activate modern day suspension technologies. Overall, you’ll be able to hook up 8,500 pounds easily.
As for safety, Armada’s curb weight alone is noteworthy. When you add all the airbags, traction control, brake assist, ABS four wheel discs, vehicle dynamic control and a host of other standard safety features, you’re riding in one of the safest vehicles on the highway.
Included as standard equipment are high-tech features like lane departure, electronic brakeforce, intelligent distance cruise control, emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind spot intelligence, backup intervention, all around view safety mirror, and more. Your Nissan dealer will gladly explain everything when you visit.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 121.1 inches, 5,841 pound curb weight, 9.2 inch ground clearance, 26 gallon fuel tank, and from 23.6 to a massive 95.1 cu. ft. of cargo space available depending on seat position variations.
If you’re thinking “big” SUV, ala Chevy Suburban, GMC Denali, Ford Expedition, Cadillac Escalade or Toyota Sequoia, you owe yourself a test drive in an Armada. You can choose either seven or eight passenger seating, and the chassis and suspension improvements assure a very comfortable ride on the turnpikes. I also liked the power liftgate and the fact that the third row seating powers down with the touch of a button.
With leftover deals coming into play as the summer moves on, Armada is a great buy for those who need comfort, towing, passenger room, safety and cargo space.
Likes: Entry price, V8 power, quiet interior, fits all needs.
Dislikes: Fuel mileage, it’s really BIG when parking, not as agile as smaller SUVs.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media.