2017 NISSAN ARMADA PLATINUM ROAD TEST REVIEW
July 21 2017, Southside Nissan
A BEST IN CLASS EFFORT THAT BOASTS LEGENDARY HERITAGE
SUVs and trucks are hot commodities right now, a reality that rubbed off nicely on Nissan last year with Rogue, Murano, and Armada achieving best-ever sales, as did the Frontier mid-size pickup. This helped the brand notch up record-breaking overall sales too, with 122,059 total units down the road.
It makes sense that the Armada did well, as this 2017 model arrived entirely new in September, although I should point out it comes from well-proven stock. While the first-generation Armada was based on the Titan pickup truck and built in Canton, Mississippi, this new one rides on Nissan's global large SUV platform and hails from Kyushu, Japan, where it goes by the name of Safari. Other global markets know it as Patrol, a legendary off-roader that reaches back six generations.
NEW ARMADA BORN FROM THE LEGENDARY GLOBAL PATROL 4X4
Most of us have seen Nissan Patrols before, albeit not in the metal. You may recognize the SUV from watching 24-hour news stations, their exteriors often painted white with big, bold, black "UN" lettering on both sides, or you may have seen them on the same TV stations being used for everything from ambulances and police vehicles to military troop carriers, the big and very capable SUV utilized for just about every type of public and clandestine activity throughout the world.
Styling always plays a big part in SUV popularity, and most should find the Armada's rugged design appealing. I certainly like it, and am even more enamoured with its interior layout. It's much more premium-like than its full-size SUV peers, with fabric-wrapped roof pillars all around, padded and stitched soft touch synthetics covering most of the dash top, instrument panel, door skins and more, plus satin nickel and chrome accents highlighting key areas, and it certainly is quiet. Unlike most competitors, no cheap truck components mar the near-premium experience either, the new Armada not related to a pickup as noted earlier.
UPSCALE SUV GETS IMPRESSIVE STANDARD AND OPTIONAL FEATURES
My tester was in top-line Platinum trim, a $5,750 upgrade over the base SL for a total of $69,998 plus freight and fees. A shortlist of Platinum features includes speed-sensitive power steering, unique machine-finished 20-inch alloys on 275/60R20 all-seasons, a windshield wiper de-icer, double-stitched leather door trim, ventilated front seats, heatable second-row seats, XM NavTraffic and NavWeather, a rear entertainment system with dual seven-inch monitors built into the backsides of the front headrests as well as wireless headphones, blindspot intervention, plus lane departure warning and intervention, while no-cost second-row captain's chairs, included with my tester, are also available.
Some key items pulled up to this Platinum model from already well-equipped base trim include auto on/off LED headlamps with LED signature detailing, fog lamps, LED taillights, running boards, roof rails, heatable power-folding side mirrors with chromed caps and integrated turn signals, remote start, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, a heated multifunction steering wheel, a powered tilt and telescoping steering column, full-speed dynamic cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, a garage door opener, overhead glasses storage, a 120-volt AC power outlet, micro-filtered dual-zone auto climate control, an 8.0-inch infotainment system, navigation, voice recognition, 360-degree parking camera with moving object detection, front and rear parking sensors, 13-speaker Bose audio, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, heatable powered front seats with driver's memory and auto entry/exit, leather upholstery, a powered moonroof, a powered liftgate, a power-folding 60/40-split third row, UV-reducing solar glass, a tow package, forward collision warning, emergency autonomous braking, reverse collision prevention, blindspot warning, and much more.
ROOMY AND INCREDIBLY COMFORTABLE
It's amazingly comfortable, with front seats that are amply large for most body types and adjustable enough to find the ideal driving position, while the Armada provides a commanding view of the road from all angles. My tester's optional second-row captain's chairs were just as comfortable as those up front, with loads of legroom and headroom galore, while the rear centre console featured a comfortable leather armrest/storage bin lid and dual cupholders. The third row has enough width and seatbelts for three-abreast seating, not to mention plenty of space for adults with decent legroom too. This means it's good for seven occupants, whereas you can fit eight with the standard 60/40-split second-row bench. It's a true full-size SUV, the new Armada actually a bit longer and wider than the outgoing model.
If you regularly load your SUV up with gear you'll appreciate the Armada's size, its 470 litres of cargo carrying capacity behind the third row meaning you can fill it up with friends and family and still have space for cargo, while power-folding those rear seatbacks forward results in 1,494 litres of load-toting space. As for those trips to the hardware store, you shouldn't have any problem fitting building materials into its 2,692-litre maximum hold, while there's additional storage under the load floor too. What's more, the rearmost seatbacks power down at the push of a button.
BIG TRAILER? NO PROBLEM
If you plan to pull a camper or boat behind the new Armada, its 3,855 kilos (8,500 lbs) of maximum trailering weight is impressive. Its solid stance and beefy standard 5.6-litre V8 are key reasons it's so capable, which at 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque is 73-horsepower and 9 lb-ft stronger than the previous model, and more importantly the most powerful base engine in its class. Even so it's reasonably efficient on fuel at a claimed 17.5 L/100km city and 12.9 highway.
It's also entertaining to drive with strong acceleration from standstill and superb passing power, while it handles surprisingly well too. Even more important its ride is sublime, this not unusual with body-on-frame SUVs, the new Armada's frame rails some 40 mm wider than the previous iteration's for added strength and stiffness. Structural rigidity has actually improved by 20 percent, this aiding everything from ride quality, handling, interior quietness, which also benefits from acoustic glass all-round, crash worthiness, and off-road capability.
AN SUV DESIGNED TO GO ANYWHERE
As noted earlier, the Armada's identical global donor SUV is legendary for its mountain goat-like 4x4 prowess, and while I find it difficult to imagine anyone wanting to scratch up my tester's gorgeous Forged Copper paintwork and stunning set of rims the SUV's standard full-time four-wheel drive and two-speed transfer case with available low-range is just what's needed to crawl over, around or through almost any obstacle an off-road enthusiast could find, while its 234-mm ground clearance makes it lofty enough to walk over protruding rocks and stumps that could hang up lesser utes, plus anything that makes contact should be repelled by standard skid plates. Other specs worth noting include a 20.9-degree approach angle, 20.7-degree break-over angle, and 22.3-degree departure angle.
Whether you're looking for a seasoned off-roader for tackling the wild or an ideal family hauler with the ability to keep everyone comfortable no matter how long the road trip or how heavy the load in tow, the new Armada is a sizeable improvement over the previous generation. It comes as close to premium quality and refinement as possible too, clearly leaving its pickup truck-based competitors behind, and delivers solid value for the reasonable sum asked. You need to experience it firsthand.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.