SUVs are hot right now, and that’s great news for the redesigned 2017 Nissan Armada.
While SUVs in general are reaffirming their place as the vehicle style of choice for many buyers, full-size SUVs are somewhat stuck in a rut. The Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon dominate the category, leaving the Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia and this Armada to fight for the scraps. That’s why Nissan has taken a different route.
The first Armada was clearly an American product, born from the made-for-the-USA Titan pickup truck and built in the then-new Nissan factory in Mississippi.
This latest version is American at heart (with a burly V8 built in Tennessee) and Japanese everywhere else. The Armada is a close relative of the Nissan Patrol built in Japan. It’s been sold here for several years as the Infiniti QX80, too, a leather-covered liner that now sells for north of $80,000.
The Armada looks taller and stubbier than the Yukon and Tahoe, sharing a noble profile more in line with a Range Rover, despite an oddly protruding rear bumper. It’s different for sure, unless you park it next to the Infiniti. Regardless, the Armada does cut a more distinctive profile than most full-size SUVs on the road today, going for something that isn’t a knockoff of the proven General Motors formula.
Its American heart is certainly strong, though. The 5.6-liter V8 produces 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, which moves the hefty Armada up to speed with aplomb. And off the line, it sounds a little like a muscle car. Don’t count on much more than 16 mpg, however, in combined city/highway driving.
The 2017 Nissan Armada also drives a little like a ‘60s muscle car, and that’s not exactly a compliment. Steering is extremely light, which makes it feel maneuverable at parking lot speeds but erratic on the highway. The ride is soft, but probably too soft to stop kids in the back from getting car sick.
Inside, the Armada has a nice general look, with lots of soft-touch surfaces on high-end models. The look, however, will appeal more toward those who like a classic image of luxury rather than something modern (although to be fair, not much in this category is particularly trend-setting.) Technophiles will be frustrated with the controls, however, as there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and the whole system appears to be stuck in the early parts of the 2010s.
At least there are large, comfortable seats for the first and second rows, with a three-passenger bench in the second row standard and two captain’s chairs with a console available on top Platinum models. The third row, however, is ultimately cramped for grown-ups. At least it has power-folding buttons to make loading cargo easier.
Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but the least expensive 2017 Nissan Armada will go for around $45,000, which is right in the ballpark of its key rivals. Consider its power and the new Armada is something of a performance bargain in the class.
Why should you get an Armada instead one of the many other three-row crossovers that carry people and cargo just as well, but without the high fuel bills and truck-like handling? For buyers of these large rigs, there is the feeling they can tackle anything thrown at them and the Armada doesn’t disappoint, with off-road abilities that probably outmaneuver the Tahoe and Yukon.
Why should you get a 2017 Armada instead of a lightly used Infiniti QX80? That’s a tougher question to answer. And it won’t be easy to strip loyal buyers away from their brands in this class.
The 2017 Nissan Armada is different in this segment, and different can sometimes be good.