2020 Armada New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Armada is a full-size, eight-seat, rear-wheel-drive SUV with a big powerful V-8 engine and options that can push it into the territory of the grandest Cadillac and Mercedes SUVs, for less money. In its more pedestrian trim, the SV model, competitors are more like the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition.
The Armada was last redesigned in 2017. For 2019, standard equipment includes a full suite of active safety features, led by automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
The Armada SUV is a truck, not a crossover, with its body separate from the frame and attached to it. This makes the SUV more rigid and rugged, and usually makes the ride stiffer, but the Armada manages the ride well. It's the handling that feels more cumbersome. But its acceleration is almost astounding, able to blast from 0 to 60 mph in seven seconds, and it's a joy to feel that smooth burst, even if it means a trip to the gas station, and soon.
The engine is a 5.6-liter V-8 making 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is available, although you won't want to take the wide Armada on any narrow trails. Being a big truck, it can tow up to 8,500 pounds.
It's no surprise that the fuel mileage is low, EPA-rated at 14 mpg City, 19 mpg Highway, and 16 mpg Combined, with rear-wheel drive; subtract 1 mpg for four-wheel drive. The good news is, it takes regular fuel. To get an engine rated 390 horsepower on 87-octane gas is great. It might not make that full 390 hp on 87, but you won't miss the loss of power unless you're a leadfoot.
The Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition get better mileage than that, 19 mpg with rear-wheel drive. And if you step down to a minivan to move your people, you could get 22 mpg.
It is a surprise that the Armada doesn't ace the crash tests. The NHTSA only gives it four stars overall, with a low three stars for both frontal crash protection and rollover prevention. The IIHS hasn't tested it. .
Even the base Armada SV is well equipped, as it should be with a starting price of more than $48,000. It starts with cloth seating, and gets 18-inch wheels, three-row seating, 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bose sound system, front/rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, and more.
For about $56,000, the SL adds leather upholstery, fog lights, a surround-view camera system, power liftgate, power-folding third-row seats, driver-seat memory, 20-inch wheels, and a power-adjustable steering column.
The Platinum adds luxury and safety features starting for about $64,000, including rear-seat entertainment, blind-spot monitors and active lane control.
The fully loaded Platinum Reserve is about $70,000 and offers 20-inch wheels, two-tone leather upholstery with wood trim, heated steering wheel, a power liftgate, second-row captain's chairs, and dark chrome exterior trim..