2012 Armada New Car Test Drive
The 2011 Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV with seating for seven, a plethora of cargo space, and a towing capacity of up to 9,000 pounds for the top-of-the-line model. For 2011, the Armada sails on unchanged, except for name changes on two trim levels.
A healthy V8 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission equip the Armada for serious work. Yet its comfortable ride and accurate response lends the nautically named SUV a degree of refinement. This is a genuine 4WD vehicle in the vein of the Land Cruiser and Jeep Grand Cherokee, not merely an all-wheel-drive system for inclement weather. Yet you can drive it in urban settings without feeling like you're navigating the Queen Mary down the Los Angeles river.
We found the Nissan Armada drives well, cruises nicely, with a comfortable ride, responsive handling for a full-size truck and strong acceleration performance from its 5.6-liter V8 engine.
The Armada is quite large. It's an inch longer than the Ford Expedition, two inches longer than the Toyota Sequoia. Armada has a slightly longer wheelbase than that of the Sequoia, and significantly longer than that of the Expedition. A longer wheelbase can increase stability, especially when towing. The Armada is longer overall and in wheelbase than the Chevy Tahoe, shorter than the Suburban. They're all about the same width.
Cargo capacity of the Armada is slightly less than that of the competition, but the second- and third-row seats fold perfectly flat, a great feature. The interior is nice, the seats are comfortable, and everything is easy to operate.
The Nissan Armada is a handsome vehicle, better looking than the Infiniti QX56. Also, it's clearly intended for hauling. The rear bumper is flat and protected with cladding on top. Stylish, aerodynamic rear bumpers such as what's found on the Infiniti can quickly get scratched up when loading heavy cargo or dogs. For towing and for driving off pavement, we recommend the 18-inch wheels over the fancy 20-inch wheels.
These days, the average consumer is understandably shying away from ginormous spot utilities in search of alternatives that are smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient. That said, the 2011 Nissan Armada is a solid choice if you need lots of space, a high towing capacity and large third-row seats. With its quiet strength and 4WD, the Armada can take you places you never expected to go.
The 2011 Nissan Armada is offered in two- and four-wheel-drive versions in three trim levels: the base SV, the mid-level SL, and the upscale Platinum. All are available with flex-fuel capability in selected markets, meaning they can run on E85 ethanol.
Armada SV 2WD ($37,910) includes cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear climate controls, rear parking sensors, an eight-way power driver seat, adjustable pedals, split bench reclining second-row seat and a 60/40 split folding third row seat, 18-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, side-step rails. The standard eight-speaker stereo system includes an in-dash six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack. Armada SV 4WD ($43,510) also includes a power-folding third row, tow package, self-leveling rear suspension, upgraded 12-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio capability.
Armada SL 2WD ($42,840) features leather upholstery, 20-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, tow package, auto-leveling rear air suspension, keyless entry/ignition, a power-folding third-row seat, and a back-up camera. The SL 4WD ($45,640) adds a chrome grille and skid plates.
Armada Platinum 2WD ($50,090) and 4WD ($52,890) add navigation with real-time traffic, Bose audio system with a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, front parking sensors, a sunroof, dual power-folding mirrors, a power rear liftgate, heated front seats and steering wheel, memory for driver's seat and pedals, 20-inch chrome wheels. (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Safety features on all 2011 Nissan Armada models include front-seat side-impact airbags, as well as three-row curtain airbags, the mandated frontal airbags, and active front head restraints. Active safety features include electronic stability control, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, and Brake Assist. Optional safety features include a front proximity sensor, and the rearview monitor.
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