Remember the Nissan Armada, Nissan’s full-size body-on-frame SUV? If it doesn’t ring a bell, don’t beat yourself up too much. The Armada has been with us for 13 years now, but it hasn’t found more than 20,000 buyers in the U.S. since 2008. After GM’s Suburban/Yukon/Escalade trio, Toyota Sequoia, Ford Expedition, and on the top end, the Range Rover and Toyota Land Cruiser, the aging Armada is decidedly at the back of the pack. What’s more, its platform partner the XTerra was killed off in 2015, and the all-new Titan pickup has just been redesigned with new architecture, which means the Armada isn’t just a dinosaur, it’s also the last one of its kind left.
So the Armada as we know it is likely on its way out. But don’t get misty-eyed just yet; this opens the door for an American return of one of the most important Nissan models no one seems to remember: the Patrol. According to Autoblog, a press image of a 2017 full-size SUV is making the rounds on Nissan forums, and it’s virtually identical to the Patrol model available in other parts of the world. From here, it seems likely it’ll get saddled with the Armada nameplate stateside, but that’s okay. The current Patrol is one of the most formidable big SUVs in the world, and frankly it’s a wonder we haven’t gotten it sooner.
Introduced in 2010, the six-generation Patrol is powered by Nissan’s 5.6 liter 400 horsepower V8 and mated to the company’s seven-speed automatic transmission, though as Autoblog points out, the wide range of powertrain options in the Titan could be offered in the Armada/Patrol if Nissan was so inclined. We already have a version of this JDM special here in the Infiniti QX80, but a Nissan-badged version would likely be the one to get all the attention.
The Patrol isn’t some “me-too” model; it’s a genuine 4×4 pioneer. Introduced in 1951 – the same year as the Land Cruiser – it was a formidable foil to the higher-profile Toyota. While that brand famously based its iconic utility vehicle on the British Range Rover, Nissan opted to go to the source and start with the Jeep as a template. As a result, early Patrols bear more than a passing resemblance to early Jeep CJ models In 1960, the second-generation 60-Series Patrol was incredibly popular in Australia and in less-than hospitable climates, remaining in production for a full 20 years. From 1962 to ’69, the Patrol was sold in the U.S. through Datsun dealers as a Nissan, making it the first Nissan-badged vehicle sold in America.
In the 1980s and ’90s, the Patrol followed the Land Cruiser’s trajectory, evolving into a more civilized four-door model while still retaining its go-anywhere reputation. Today, it’s incredibly popular in the Middle East and Asia, where its unexpected popularity with tuners has led Nissan to release a high-performance Nismo model. No matter what we get it badged as, it isn’t likely we’ll be getting the Nismo.
While the Armada nameplate never raised many pulses in America, maybe it would’t be a bad idea for Nissan to bring the Patrol badge back. Air commercials showing 65 year’s worth of rugged 4x4s blasting through jungles, caravanning across deserts and climbing rocks. Position it as an affordable alternative to luxe U.S.-spec Range Rovers and Land Cruisers. With gas being as cheap as it is and full-size SUVs selling like crazy, a modern model with instant credibility could be a surprise hit for the brand. But whatever badge it ends up wearing, we’re just glad to be getting the Patrol back.
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