Words: Robert Nichols
Photography: Robert Nichols
Published: November 7, 2016
The full-size family SUV market has long been ruled by General Motors with their Yukon and Tahoe breadwinners but Nissan’s own full-sizer, the Armada, has them straight in its crosshairs. Redesigned for 2017, the Armada no longer uses the Titan pickup as its starting point. Instead the body rests atop the frame of a Nissan Patrol, a proper off-road workhorse found throughout the world driving in less than idyllic conditions.
For those unaware of this nameplate, it goes back to the early 50’s and has been used by the UN as a support vehicle and more impressively, has won the Paris-Dakar rally three times. The new Armada however, has been softened a bit to make it more liveable in an urban environment (where Armada owners spend most of their time).
It is still a real truck (body on frame, not unibody), with a real 4X4 system that includes a 2-speed gearbox, but it feels floaty instead of harsh and hunkered down. There’s also a fair bit of body roll on sharp or sudden bends, but the plush ride is worth it, further enhanced by the vault-like silence of the cabin – not even the V8 soundtrack could do much to disturb us.
The new Armada uses a V8 that punches out 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to tow 3,855 kg (8,500 lbs) putting it at the top of its class. This represents significant improvement over the previous engine which had the same displacement but only produced 317 hp and 385 lb-ft. Furthermore, the new engine uses direct injection, hydraulically controlled variable valve timing, and a higher compression ratio to achieve better fuel economy.
All that burnt fuel is utilized by a smooth shifting 7-speed automatic transmission. Not once did it miss a beat. There was no hesitation about dropping a gear or two; a stomp on the throttle was met immediately by the front end rearing up with enthusiasm and a surge of torque. When we encountered an incline, the tranny went about its work so silently, had I not been looking at the tachometer I would never have been aware of any shifting at all.
The new sheetmetal has meant some compromises when it comes to interior space. With the third row seats occupied, there is still 470 L of cargo space behind them, 97 L less than the last generation. The culprit is likely the shorter wheelbase. With the third row folded you have access to 1,404 L and with the second row folded, you can utilise 2,692 L.
Loading the rear cargo area may be awkward for some. The rear bumper sticks out like the bottom lip of a pouting child. This unfortunate feature is so obvious that the tester came with, what I assume was, a bumper cover meant to prevent the paint getting scratched when you are sliding stuff in. The lift height is also high and the load floor is not completely flat when the seats are folded.
The rest of the Armada’s interior genuinely surprised me. I expected top of the line, but the level of fit and finish and use of premium materials elevates this average brand’s flagship into fairer seas. The Armada is based on the Infiniti QX80 and surprisingly, not much has been held back from the Nissan beyond a few horses and some extra torque.
The interior is nearly identical to that of its Infiniti brother: the dash layout, switchgear, even the wood veneer. The second row captain’s chairs are heated and will fold then flip forward with the simple pull of a lever. The mechanism is so easy to operate that even a child can access the third row without need of adult assistance.
As for entertainment, the Platinum model comes with a DVD system that features two screens, two sets of wireless headphones and a crisp and clear Bose audio system with 13 speakers. The front seat occupants have access to an 8-inch touch screen with no shortage of redundant buttons and knobs to access navigation with real time traffic, satellite radio and various vehicular functions that can be tuned to suit your needs.
For the driver there are several electronic toys to aid the day-to-day piloting of this barge. The Platinum trim comes with everything Nissan has to offer. Surround view monitoring was handy when parallel parking and when trying to park close to the curb without scuffing the 20-inch rims. Adaptive cruise, predictive forward collision warning, backward collision prevention and moving object detection all make for a carefree drive even in tight situations with limited visibility.
The fully loaded Armada tested here has a cost of $71,928 including freight and PDI. The only extra is the Forged Copper paint ($135). To get into a similarly equipped Chevrolet Tahoe you must chose the LTZ model and add several options which brings the price to $78,825. Move to a GMC Yukon and you will need a fully loaded and optioned up SLT which will set you back $78,465.
To match the level of luxury you would be forced to buy the Yukon Denali, add a few options and pay $82,640. True, the Yukon Denali has more power and some extra goodies not offered by the Armada but $10,000 is a bit hard to swallow given how luxurious the new Armada’s interior has become.
I really like the direction Nissan has taken with their flagship SUV. It uses a solid body on frame design suited for the urban environment, an interior fit for a king, and pricing that bests the segment leaders. The Armada does have a few quirks such as a lack of off-road ability and cramped third row seats, but it’s a winner in my books. It’s all but left me wondering, how is its brother, the Infiniti QX80, supposed to compete against a more modestly priced version of itself?
型号 Model: 2017 Nissan Armada Platinum
顏色 Paint Type: Forged Copper
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $69,998
試車售價 Price as Tested: $71,928
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,076
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,306 / 2,029 / 1,925
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,705
引擎 Engine: 5.6-litre V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 390 hp @ 5,200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 394 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 7-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4WD
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.8
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Bridgestone Dueler H/T P275/60R20