Topping the full-size SUV segment requires a delicate balance of features and sticker price. One competitor scrapping its way to the top is the 2021 Nissan Armada. The redesigned SUV got a face-lift and some much-needed interior upgrades to compete with rivals.
But it appears Nissan has upset the delicate feature/sticker price balance. It’s prompted consumers and critics to question whether the minimal upgrades justify the $1,000 price hike.
The 2021 Nissan Armada’s features
The 2021 Nissan Armada costs $1,000 more than the 2020 model. The new base MSRP is $49,895, Car and Driver reports.
The Armada’s exterior received a front and rear redesign that includes a bolder grille and the automaker’s new logo. Nissan updated the infotainment system with a 12.3-inch display and wireless Apple CarPlay capability to compete with GM’s and Ford’s full-size SUVs.
Powering the 2021 Armada, the same 5.6-liter V8 and seven-speed automatic transmission on last year’s model comes with some tweaks that allow it to produce 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. The standard Armada offers rear-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is available for an extra $3,000. The Armada’s upgrades also allow for 8,500 pounds of towing capacity. That’s 100 more pounds than the Chevrolet Tahoe can trailer.
Nissan has rearranged the 2021 Armada’s trim packages. The automaker replaced the former base-model SV with the new S model. It features cloth seats, 18-inch wheels, and a four-speaker sound system.
The SV (MSRP $53,895) upgrades to heated leatherette seats, roof rails, two more speakers, wireless charging, and trailer brake control. The premium SL ($57,295) and Platinum ($66,295) add a power moonroof, Bose sound system, 360-degree camera, and 20-inch wheels. The Platinum package also gets quilted leather seats, heated rear seats, third-row power reclining seats, a digital rearview mirror, and 22-inch wheels, Car and Driver reports.
Comparing the Nissan Armada’s price with others
The 2021 Armada’s upgrades help bring Nissan’s full-size SUV more up-to-date with class leaders, including the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Ford Expedition. But the 2021 Armada has yet to gain ground on rivals. It falls fifth out of six on U.S. News‘ list “Best Large SUVs for 2021,” outranking only the Toyota Sequoia.
So, how does the Armada stack up to the top competitors?
The 2021 Tahoe’s price also increased by $1,000. But the new Chevy got more standard driver-assistance features, a much larger cargo hold, an additional 10 inches of third-row legroom, and revamped exterior and interior styling.
The 2021 Suburban’s upgrades include a switch from a solid axle to an independent rear suspension. That improves the longest-running SUV nameplate’s ride and handling. It also boasts an extra 23 cubic feet of cargo space and two inches of additional legroom in the second and third rows. All of that comes for $1,000 more than the 2020 model.
The 2021 GMC Yukon provides extra legroom for third-row passengers and 30 cubic feet of additional cargo space. GMC also upgraded the powertrain, whose engine pairs with a 10-speed automatic transmission. These improvements added only $100 to the price.
You can own a 2021 base-model three-row Ford Expedition for $52,810 — the same price as last year’s model. The Expedition features a 10-speed automatic transmission, power-folding and power-reclining third-row seats, and an enhanced voice recognition communications and infotainment system.
Is Nissan’s $1,000 price increase justified?
The 2021 Nissan Armada’s upgrades were certainly necessary to better compete with class leaders. But the Armada’s upgrades, compared with rivals’ improvements for the same price increase or less, aren’t extensive enough to justify the $1,000 hike.