Nissan’s Armada has consistently been getting scuttled by the competition, and after years of watching flotilla after flotilla of lucrative sales get plundered by other automakers, an overhauled 2017 model of the SUV is finally making its way to showrooms. But forget all that for a moment and let’s zero-in on what makes the 2017 variant so much better than the old version.
For years we have wondered if the Armada badge would disappear all together, as it left both buyers and critics nonplussed with its bevy of cheap plastic and fuel efficiency woes. Nissan remains sound-minded though, and has reforged the three ton behemoth into an all-new entity that is part Infiniti QX80 and part Nissan Patrol, thus making the SUV far more rugged and refined than ever before.
By tapping into the engineering that made the internationally acclaimed Patrol SUV so successful and tying it in with some Infiniti flavoring, Nissan has been able to create an SUV that is capable off-road while retaining an interior and ride that’s ridiculously refined. After driving one for a day out in the smoke-scorched mountains of Monterey, California, I began to realize that Nissan has shifted gears with the Armada, and that the best is still yet to come.
So if you are in the market for a three-ton, V8-powered SUV definitely give the Armada a test cruise. Here are ten things we think you need to know about the redesigned SUV before you arrive at the dealership.
1. It Tows More Than You Think
Nissan’s Endurance V8 engine thoroughly impressed me back in the Spring when I first drove the Titan XD, and seeing the 5.6-liter beast paired with a slick seven-speed automatic gearbox gives boat-loving dads everywhere a reason to rejoice. The Armada is a three-ton SUV as it is, so hauling all that weight and 8,500 pounds on top of all that is an admirable feat.
As this chart illustrates, the 2017 Armada absolutely spanks the competition with its Endurance V8 powertrain and seven-speed gearbox combo, and the best part is that the rear-wheel drive version gets the same towing capacity. So slide that trailer or boat on up to that back bumper, because every single Armada now comes with an integrated tow hitch, pre-wiring, and the strength to haul it all.
2. Off-Road Adventures Await
Maneuvering the Armada was a fun but all-too-brief portion of the driving experience, as we muscled it around a rugged off-road track that had been built in the center of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. With 4Hi and 4Lo settings, double wishbone suspension in all four corners, a ride height-leveling rear end, and twin-tube gas shocks giving the gumption to push forward, offering more off-road capability than the average driver will ever need. It may not have a slew of locking differentials or multiple terrain settings like the Patrol, but between the aforementioned options and a series of clever corner and undercarriage cameras, you can still attack the outdoors without restraint.
3. It’s a Pure-Bred Military Brat
This is the main reason why the Armada does so surprisingly well off-road: while it may be restyled externally, almost all of its underpinnings have been based off the highly successful military monster that is the Nissan Patrol. Long reserved for international sale and military use, the Armada takes a lot of the basic inspiration from its more hardcore cousin.
As this timeline illustrates, previous generations of the Armada have largely been based off the old Titan design language, which was deemed good enough for the time, but has aged considerably in the last decade. Granted, the 2017 model still isn’t as versatile as the Patrol, but at least the engineering is based on an international SUV success story that carries with it things like undercarriage skid plates.
4. There’s Race Pedigree Behind That Badge
The Patrol has been a signature of 4×4 racing for a long time, which means that the Armada now has some of that pedigree to back up its off-road inclinations. It may not have sand or mud traction settings, nor the iconic snorkel sprouting from its front fender, but it does still carry some key design cues that make a difference. Those chrome fender ducts actually serve a purpose now, as intake air charges get sucked in from outside, and the majority of the SUV’s frame now sports 100mm thicknesses, easily overshadowing the old 60mm design. Couple this rigidity with a redesigned steering system, a fully boxed all-steel frame, that V8 Endurance engine, and the aforementioned off-road upgrades, and you’ve got a full-size SUV that hits 60 in about six seconds.
5. It May Seem Smaller, But My Lord That Cabin
From heated and ventilated seats and a warming steering wheel, to a standard Bose surround sound system and side-mounted rear vents for increased air flow, this SUV has you covered when it comes to comfortable and cleverly concocted interiors. On paper the Armada is smaller than before internally, but a lot of Infiniti luxury continues to trickle downstream, making for another strong selling point.
6. It’s V8 Engine is Smarter and Stronger
The old Armada rocked a motor that put down 317 horsepower, and it came mated to a five-speed gearbox that didn’t do the vehicle any favors in today’s competitive SUV landscape. The new Endurance V8 sports 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, and comes attached to a sharp seven-speed gearbox that doesn’t mind jumping gears to give you the grunt required for a hasty overtake on the interstate. While the direct injected engine may only boast about one extra mile per gallon over the old model, considering how much more clout it brings to the table, we don’t think buyers will mind at all.
7. Sensational Standard Amenities Live Here
Here is a brief list of some of the basics you will absolutely want to play with when you go test the new Armada out at the local Nissan dealership. Leather power seats up front come with six-way adjustability and are heated, the standard 13-speaker Bose audio system hits hard, rear seats fold flat with a simple two fingered pull of a tab, and you always get fog lights, a power 60/40 folding third row, and an electronic liftgate. We don’t have time to list every standard amenity, but don’t be afraid to go with a lower trim line, because you might find yourself scoring more than just a touchscreen on an entry-grade model.
8. Tech Isn’t Just for Infotainment Anymore
Speaking of touchscreens, buyers don’t just get weather, traffic, navigation, and infotainment amenities here, but a multitude of nifty touches for driving across America’s roadways or when braving the great outdoors. Tapping into its inner 4×4 self, the 2017 Armada rocks a series of cameras that allow you to examine various wheel angles and steering inputs without climbing out, and the front facing lower camera is a godsend when cresting a hill and all your windshield shows is the sky. Nissan’s All-Around View Safety Shield Package also offers drivers gadgets like variable cruise control, and with front and rear sonar sweeping the area to detect unseen objects, road trips and grocery runs are a cinch.
9. Safety is a Crucial Component
While we’re on the topic of tech, it’s important to note that Nissan’s Safety Shield Package also holds loads of built-in preventative safety measures. From blind spot warnings and lane keep assistance to backup collision mitigation and forward emergency braking, the Armada embraces the dangers of the open road with electronic fisticuffs at the ready. That far stiffer, boxed all-steel frame works wonders when it comes to collisions as well, and you better believe every model comes with an “armada” of airbags.
10. Look at That Value!
As you can see, there’s plenty to like about the new Armada. Everything comes at a price, and with three easy model tiers to choose from (SV, SL, and Platinum) buyers will find themselves getting a lot of Infiniti luxury for a fraction of the price. While the upper two trim lines have yet to reveal their worth, we do know that the base SV model will cost a reasonable $44,400 when it goes on sale in mid-August of this year. So judging by the price tags we’ve seen slapped on previous generations, and gauging the monetary gap between that and the Infiniti QX80, we feel confident the all-new Armada will offer solid value for the money.