2017 Nissan Armada Quick Take
The first thing to know about the all-new Nissan Armada is that it's not really all that new. It's based on the Infiniti QX80, which evolved from the second-generation QX56 when Infiniti changed all its nomenclature. That QX56 was based on the Nissan Patrol, a big SUV that's sold overseas, and was introduced in its current iteration in 2010. Long story short: The new Nissan Armada was actually several years old when it first went on sale.
So, right off the bat, it sounds like I'm setting this up for a bashing, but the reality is that the 2017 Nissan Armada has a lot to offer full-size SUV shoppers. The interior on the Platinum model we drove felt right out of an Infiniti, not surprising since the QX80 is this truck's mechanical twin. That means heated, cooled, and seriously comfortable seats; active safety features aplenty; and an excellent sounding audio system. Rear seat passengers (divided into captain's chairs in the second row in Platinum models, but a bench in the rest of the lineup) get equally comfortable chairs, plus individual entertainment screens built into the front seat headrests. The third row offers decent legroom for adults, plenty for kids, and there's even decent cargo space behind the third row seatbacks.
Pretty standard for the class is the big V8 engine under the hood. With 5.6 liters and 390 horsepower, the V8 moves the big Armada quite well, with smooth power delivery and ample torque. The 8-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly, a good mate to the engine. The suspension provides a soft and comfortable ride, and the independent rear smooths irregularities in a way that the Chevrolet Tahoe still can't quite manage with its solid axle. A short but sweet off road excursion actually left us wanting more; the Patrol is meant for off-road duties around the world, and while the Armada is definitely citified for America, underneath is a surprisingly rugged four-wheel drive beast, if you're willing to unleash it. If you want, it can tow up to 8,500 pounds.
So the Armada is nice inside, looks decent (less weird than the Infiniti version anyhow) and is overall pleasant to drive. It's even reasonably priced, with our loaded Platinum model coming in with an as-tested price of $62,335, including the $1,095 destination charge. So what's the problem?
Showing its age
The age shows up in terms of technology. The center stack, for example, looks like the kind of thing Nissan used a decade ago. The navigation system feels dated, and doesn't offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The information display between the main gauges is old-school pixelated black-and-white. It has active cruise control and lane keeping assist, but they operate so abruptly it's like having your high-school driving instructor reach over and yank the wheel. There's only one USB port, and that rear-seat entertainment system doesn't support Blu Ray discs, although it offers an input if you bring your own player. Fuel economy is not its strong suit. We managed about 12 mpg most of the time, and that was in mixed driving that leaned toward more highway than not.
Are any of these deal killers? It depends on how important the latest technology is to you. If you want CarPlay, more than one USB port, built-in Blu Ray and fuel economy that won't make you weep at the pump, a more modern SUV like the Chevy Tahoe is maybe worth the $5,000 stretch. If not, then the up-front savings of the Armada might be the deal you're looking for.