KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/4/2011
Despite the constant calls of its pending doom or complete abolition, the full-size SUV will likely always have a place in the American garage – at least as long as there are large families with large toys to tow behind them. The 2012 Nissan Armada is an excellent example of the full-size quarter-ton SUV families like the ones mentioned above can't live without. A bit more stylish than the boxy Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Expedition, the Nissan Armada nonetheless has the muscle and strength to go toe-to-toe with its domestic competitors. Its 317-horsepower V8 can tow up to 9,000 pounds, and the available all-wheel drive is ideal for winter-weather states. However, as Nissan does not make a 3/4-ton variant, really heavy jobs will require moving to the Chevrolet Suburban 2500 model. If the Titan's $40,000 asking price isn't a detractor, odds are you'll be able to budget the $100-plus fill-ups required to keep the Armada afloat. For those who truly need what the 2012 Nissan Armada SUV has, the long list of luxury amenities, comfortable interior and cavernous cargo hold can make owning such a vehicle a little less painful on the paycheck.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a powerful, tech-savvy SUV with edgy styling that makes a bold statement, the 2012 Nissan Armada SUV outshines most competitors in its segment and even a few luxury models costing thousands more.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The term "full-size SUV" means just that. The 2012 Nissan Armada SUV is big, heavy and not much fun to drive in confined areas. If you need 6- or 7-passenger seating but not the ability to tow heavy loads, a GMC Acadia, Dodge Durango or Honda Pilot might be a better alternative.
What's New for 2012
The 2012 Nissan Armada SUV receives some minor upgrades including a power rear liftgate and heated front seats now standard on the SL trim. The Platinum trim receives standard heated second-row seats and a padded center armrest with the Captain's-chairs option.
The 2012 Nissan Armada SUV's hefty bulk and truck-like build might have you thinking that handling and ride comfort are not going to be its strongest attributes, and you would be half right. Nissan's adept double-wishbone suspension geometry and capable speed-sensitive power steering make the Armada as easy to operate as a mid-size Nissan Pathfinder. Tight confines are still a bit tricky given the Nissan Armada's length, but its short front and rear overhangs make maneuvering in tight corners a bit less worrisome. On smooth pavement, the Armada sails along with little drama, but upon encountering rough seas-uneven pavement or large expansion joints, for example-the Armada's Titan-based roots quickly make themselves known. The Armada's suspension isn't as efficient at isolating road imperfections as is the Chevy Suburban, choosing instead to send the slightest rude jolt or annoying vibration into the passenger cabin. The 2012 Nissan Armada SUV's 317-horsepower V8 engine delivers great power and never feels tepid or short of breath, and its 5-speed automatic delivers decisive, nearly imperceptible shifts.
Rear Seat Design
The 2012 Nissan Armada SUV's versatile rear-seat design includes fold-flat seats that create a level loading floor.
Standard Head-Curtain Airbags
The 2012 Nissan Armada SUV's standard head-curtain airbags cover all three rows of seating.
The 2012 Nissan Armada SUV's interior is designed to adapt to multiple needs, able to shuttle up to eight passengers, or just two people and 97 cubic feet worth of their stuff. The Armada's second row can be outfitted with either a 3-person bench seat or a set of Captain's-chair-style seats divided by a removable center console. The console is perfect for storing water bottles or video games, and when removed creates a clear and easy pathway for the third-row passengers to enter and exit. Passengers in the Armada SUV's third-row seat have a slightly elevated perch designed to give them an equally good view ahead as well as make the area feel less claustrophobic. Those concerned about safety can take solace in the Armada's many safety features, including side-curtain airbags covering all three rows. When cargo takes precedent over passengers, the 2012 Nissan Armada SUV's massive cargo area can be expanded to give 56.7 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second-row seat and a whopping 97.1 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded flat.
Nissan took a bit of a risk with the 2012 Armada SUV, giving it styling themes usually reserved for sport sedans and small cars. Expressive body arches and door frames stand out from the 90-degree-angle designs expressed on the Armada's competitors, as do its raised roof and enormous side fender flares. Nissan's 3-opening chrome grille so familiar on their truck line is present on the Armada SUV as well, adding a bit of ruggedness on an otherwise luxurious SUV. Some of the styling cues actually hinder functionality, such as the high-mounted rear door handles that can be difficult for little kids to easily access. The 2012 Nissan Armada SUV offers a generous helping of side glass providing good 360-degree views out. The Armada's huge side mirrors (they feature auto dimming on Platinum models) further aid outward vision by revealing objects lurking close to the big SUV's sides.
Notable Standard Equipment
The 2012 Nissan Armada SV has a 317-horsepower V8 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), front and rear air conditioning, floor- and ceiling-mounted consoles, Vehicle Dynamic Control, rear privacy glass, dual power heated outside mirrors, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, power-adjustable pedals, AM/FM stereo with 6-disc in-dash CD changer with MP3 capability, front and rear head-curtain airbags (covering all three rows), front side-impact airbags, running boards, 8-way power driver's seat, cruise control, tire-pressure monitor and a rear wiper and washer. The SL adds Intelligent Key keyless entry and start, leather seating, RearView Monitor, Bluetooth, Bose audio, power-folding third-row seat, power liftgate, heated front seats and auto-leveling rear air suspension. The Platinum Edition includes all these features plus heated second-row seats and steering wheel, a power moonroof, a hard drive-based navigation system and rear-seat DVD entertainment.
Notable Optional Equipment
Options for the 2012 Nissan Armada SUV vary by trim. The Armada SV can be equipped with the Driver Package that adds a 12-speaker Bose audio system, Bluetooth, power liftgate, RearView Monitor, foglights and a power-folding third-row seat. Also available on the SV is the Tow Package and a number of dealer-installed options. The Nissan Armada SL can be equipped with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a power moonroof, while the Platinum Edition offers second-row Captain's-chair seating. All models offer the option of 4-wheel drive.
Under the Hood
Nissan equips the 2012 Armada SUV with its most powerful V8 engine and the results are impressive. Tow rated at 9,100-pounds (with the available Tow Package), the Armada credits itself well in maximum towing capacity among lighter-duty, full-size SUVs.
317 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
385 lb-ft of torque @ 3,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/19 (gasoline, 2WD), 12/18 (gasoline, 4WD), 9/13 (E85, 2WD), 9/13 (E85, 4WD)
The 2-wheel-drive 2012 Nissan Armada SV has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just around $39,500, while the same model with 4-wheel drive comes in just close to $45,000. The SL trim ranges from about $45,000 to $48,000, while a fully loaded Platinum tops out around the $56,000 mark. A look at the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price shows the typical transaction price paid for an Armada in your area, so be sure to check it out before you begin negotiations. Also be sure to check the Incentives tab to see what deals the manufacturer may be offering. In the all-important world of resale, the 2012 Nissan Armada SUV is projected to retain an average residual value, slightly lower than the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition, and well below the value retained by the Toyota Sequoia.