By Matt Degen
The 2017 Nissan Armada is the brand's flagship SUV, a 3-row brute that boasts plenty of room and capability for active families. Revamped for 2017, the Armada is now based on the Patrol, an iconic SUV that for decades has served as a military transport and adventure vehicle in global markets. With a powerful V8 engine and a slew of amenities, the Nissan Armada offers a lot of vehicle for its roughly $45,000 starting price. Highlights include impressive towing capacity and an optional safety system that can warn the driver if a vehicle two cars ahead suddenly slows. Despite its merits, the Armada faces tough competition in the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia.
If you want a tough, 3-row SUV that can seat up to eight people, tow up to 8,500 pounds and undercuts its rivals in price, the 2017 Armada is a tempting choice. Its brawny new profile, meanwhile, nearly mimics that of its pricier Infiniti QX80 sibling.
The Armada has less 3rd-row legroom than the Sequoia, Expedition and Suburban, and though the vehicle is all-new for 2017, its infotainment system lags those of GM and Ford. While the Armada can be had with 4-wheel drive, it lacks hill-descent control, terrain management, a locking differential and sophisticated off-roading features.
The 2017 Nissan Armada is all-new, entering its second generation. Like its luxury SUV sibling the Infiniti QX80, the Armada no longer is based on the Titan full-size truck but rather the rugged Nissan Patrol that has served overseas markets since the 1950s.
The 2017 Nissan Armada retains its truck-like body-on-frame construction, which means this big SUV has the rigid and rugged ride associated with a truck vs. a sedan-based crossover...
... SUV. That setup, combined with the Armada's ample 9.1 inches of ground clearance and its tall profile, will make you think twice about cornering at anything more than moderate speeds. However, the Armada gets up to speed in a respectable manner thanks to its revised, stronger V8 and smooth 7-speed automatic transmission. On highways this 3-row SUV is smooth and quiet, but its size makes it a handful to park and maneuver in tighter settings. With its fully boxed ladder frame and available 4-wheel-drive system with part-time transfer case, the Armada is ostensibly Nissan's most adept SUV for off-roaders. We are surprised the Armada lacks hill-descent control, a useful feature that can be found on a Nissan Rogue that costs roughly half as much.
PREDICTIVE FORWARD COLLISION-WARNING (PFCW)
It's easy to know what the car ahead is doing -- but what about the vehicle ahead of that one? Using radar, Nissan's PFCW safety system keeps tabs on both vehicles ahead of the Armada, and if one suddenly slows, it can alert the driver and even automatically apply the brakes.
BEVY OF STANDARD FEATURES
The 2017 Armada comes with several features that cost extra in rivals, furthering its value proposition. Among the highlights are a navigation system, Bose audio, and front and rear sonar-assisted parking aids.
The Nissan Armada SUV has three rows and seating for eight. Top-line Platinum models offer a pair of captain's chairs and a center console in the second row, reducing seating capacity to seven. Interior color choice is charcoal or almond, whether cloth fabric in base models or leather in SL and Platinum models. Platinum models can also be had in tan. Room is generous in the first and second rows but tight in the third. The front seats are large and the Armada boasts a commanding view out front, but rearward visibility is limited. The center console features an 8-inch touch screen.
Rugged yet sophisticated, the Armada's all-new design evokes the luxury-meets-utilitarian style of its Infiniti QX80 sibling and even some Range Rovers. There's nothing small or dainty about this SUV, which can tip the scale at nearly three tons when equipped with all the trimmings. Base models roll on 18-inch wheels, while SL and Platinum Armada models go big with 20-inchers. Though slightly larger than its predecessor, the new Armada looks far more cohesive, with windows that appear to stretch nearly the length of the vehicle rather than being interrupted behind the C-pillar as in the previous version.
The 2017 Nissan Armada full-size SUV is available in three trims: SV, SL and Platinum. A base SV model comes nicely equipped with dual-zone climate control, 8-inch infotainment system with navigation, 13-speaker Bose AM/FM/CD/USB/Satellite audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, rearview camera, power-adjustable front seats, and front/rear parking sensors. If you want some nicer amenities, especially leather seating, we recommend at least an SL model, which also includes Nissan's handy AroundView rearview camera system, power liftgate, power-folding 3rd-row seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and remote keyless entry with 2-driver memory system -- great for spouses.
Stepping up to the Platinum Armada brings features that are optional on the SL, including moonroof, intelligent cruise control, blind-spot detection, backup-collision intervention, forward emergency braking and the Predictive Forward Collision Warning System. That top model also comes with lane-departure warning/prevention, heated and cooled front seats, heated 2nd-row seats and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual 7-inch displays, wireless headphones and DVD player. That model can also be had in the 7-passenger configuration. Four-wheel drive is offered on all three trims.
The 2017 Armada SUV is powered by Nissan's big Endurance 5.6-liter V8. The engine is the same size as the last generation but revamped for more power and slightly better fuel economy. The engine now makes 390 horsepower, up from 317 of the past model. The Armada comes standard in rear-wheel drive (RWD) form, with 4-wheel drive (4WD) optional. This naturally aspirated (non-turbo) engine is quite thirsty, topping out at just 19 mpg for RWD models and 18 for 4WD variants. A 7-speed automatic transmission replaces the previous 5-speed. The 2017 Armada's towing capacity is 8,500 pounds -- more than the Sequoia's 7,400, nearly matches that of the Chevy Tahoe, and is less than the 9,200 pounds of the Ford Expedition, which uses a turbocharged V6.
390 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
394 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 mpg (RWD), 13/18 mpg (4WD)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The all-new for 2017 Nissan Armada has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $45,395 for a rear-wheel-drive base model. Mid-trim SL models start around $50,000, and the top-of-the-line Platinum trim bows just over $58,000. Adding 4WD to any model is an extra $2,900. All in, a 4WD Platinum Armada can approach $62,000. The Armada undercuts the starting prices of the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon siblings, as well as the Ford Expedition. It is only slightly less than the starting price of the Toyota Sequoia. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Armada. While we don't have precise predictions on this latest-gen Armada, the resale value of Nissan's full-size SUV has traditionally lagged its rivals in holding its value.