According to Merriam-Webster, the word, “armada” means this, and I quote: “a large force or group usually of moving things.”
Nissan’s full size SUV is not group of moving things, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is most definitely a large force….a very large force. This is one of the biggest vehicles on the market these days and can easily seat up to eight people.
A few specs.
Weighing in at just under three tons, with an overall length of 208 inches and a 121 inch wheelbase, the Armada features about 170 cubic feet of interior volume and has a 98 litre fuel tank. To put this into some kind of perspective, a Mazda3 – one of the most popular hatchbacks sold in Canada – weighs less than a ton and a half, has an overall length of 180 inches, a 106-inch wheelbase, and 96 cubic feet of interior volume. Completely different vehicles, yes, but this gives you an idea of the size of the Armada.
And it needs its 98 litre fuel tank. It’s propelled by a 5.6 litre V8 that develops some 390 horsepower, while delivering a not so thrifty 17.5 L / 100 km (16 mpg) in town and 12.9 (22 mpg) on the highway. There are thirstier vehicles out there, but they usually have more wheels and can actually carry stuff.
Yes, of course, the Armada can carry stuff, but that’s not its primary directive. This is a luxury-laden people carrier and cargo usually takes the form of large pets, household appliances, small plants, and/or groceries. You are not going to load a 4×8 sheet of plywood or bags of cement into this little puppy. That said, it will accommodate a large (50-inch) TV screen, no problem. I know this from experience….
Despite its girth, the Armada is effortless to drive. It has abundant reserve power, reasonably straightforward controls and switchgear, and a panoramic driving position. This, in my opinion, is the biggest plus in owning a full-size SUV: you can see over most other vehicles and peripheral vision is exceptional.
My tester – the Platinum model – also came with a bunch of modcons and goodies. Towit: leather interior, climate controlled front seats, “puddle” lights (my favourite), a power liftgate, intelligent cruise control, back-up collision prevention, and groovy front captain’s seats……among many other things. It may be big, but the Armada is also exceedingly comfortable and would make a fine long-distance tourer…..if you can get around the low fuel economy.
Reasonably nimble in the city as well. During the aforementioned large screen episode, I manoeuvred my Armada through one of the busiest malls in town, and, once I realized I could not squeeze in between two cars and had to kind of pick a parking spot away from everyone else, things went swimmingly. On the other hand, opening the doors of this one increases the elbow room needed…..thus the need to pick isolated parking spots.
Elsewhere, all Armadas have a 4WD system that will automatically revert to 2WD when the situation allows it….which is to say, most of the time. It has a “snow” mode and automatically converts to 4WD if things get a little slick. As well, there is a towing mode, and the Armada can handle up to8500 pounds of towing weight. All accessed via centre console-mounted rotary dial. Again, not a down and dirty mud-slogger, but that extra traction is there when you need it.
Still, I admit that I don’t “get” this market. The Armada – and others like it – is undeniably comfortable and features plenty of elbow room, but it’s bigger than it needs to be, in my opinion, and not really a workhorse in terms of getting its hands dirty. Where does one really use this kind of rig? Need to carry people? A mini-van will do that nicely. Into off-roading? There are other less expensive and more capable vehicles out there. Crave luxury? The upscale market is full of choices. Yes, the Armada will deliver a relaxing driving experience, but it’s kind of thirsty, doesn’t really handle that well, and has a rather hefty price tag. My tester, after the dust settles, is just under $72,000.
But if you have to live large, this is as good as anything else out there.
AT A GLANCE
Engine: 5.6 litre V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Horsepower: 390 hp @ 5800 rpm
Torque: 394 ft. lb @ 3400 rpm
Price: $69,998 (base); $71,928 as tested.
Fuel Economy: 17.5 L /100 km (city) & 12.9 (hwy.) Regular fuel.
Alternatives: Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX60/70/80, Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, Toyota Highlander, Chev Tahoe/Suburban, Lincoln Navigator, Lexus GX, Audi Q7, Mercedes GLS.
Manufacturer’s Site: Nissan
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist Of The Year twice and is past president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).