Can a full-size SUV age gracefully?

I was prepared to dislike this vehicle, grabbing the keys for this weekend merely because our family van was acting up, and we needed a large passenger hauler to get visiting family around. 

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So, imagine my surprise when I actually ended up enjoying my time behind the wheel.

For a vehicle that first appeared on the road in 2004, the Armada has aged surprisingly well over its decade of service. Don't get me wrong; it's still unattractive to my eyes, and I'll never get used to the weirdly humped water-buffalo roofline. But inside it's nice. There is a soft-touch dash, the door tops are similar, and it's huge inside, too. There's good cargo space behind the third row, which in this Platinum model folds and unfolds using a power mechanism. The flip-fold mechanism for the second row makes third-row access easy, and there was enough room in the third row for an adult and two kids, one of whom was in a booster seat. There was enough technology to keep this truck from feeling behind the times, and all of it worked well. Power was merely adequate, but adequate is all you need in something like this anyhow, so it was fine. Suspension was comfortable, and the ride was surprisingly quiet, too. Steering was trucky, but it's a truck so it meets expectations there, too.

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Drawbacks: the navigation display is dated, as is the overall interior design. Then again, Nissan as a whole needs to rethink its interior designs, so it's a criticism leveled at more than just the Armada. Still, compared to the new Tahoe, the Armada looks downright primitive. Everything works well though, and it feels high quality, too.  The gauge package really looks like it's 10 years old though. The info display below the gauges is highly pixelated, too small to be useful, and is operated by a thin stalk sticking out from the gauges; most vehicles today put that on the steering wheel. Then, of course, there's fuel economy, which hovered below 15 mpg in a lot of highway driving during the weekend. 

Still though, I was expecting to laugh myself silly at such a dated SUV. But instead I found that while it's still old, its various updates keep it relevant and even a relative bargain at around $54,000. Color me surprised.

More SUV and crossover news...

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