This week I am behind the wheel of the very large 2017 Nissan Armada SUV. Although crossovers are all the rage, I still get a lot of questions about full-sized, truck-based SUVs. When asked my favorite large SUVs, my answer is the GM models (Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon, Escalade) followed by Expedition, Navigator, and Sequoia. I don’t see that answer changing after spending a week in the new Armada.
You know, I wanted to really like this SUV, and there are some positives I will point out to you. I did not like the previous version, and this 2017 is improved.
It has a new powertrain.
One major improvement is the powertrain. This new version has an updated 5.6-liter V8 engine that has 390-horses versus the old 5.6 which had 317-horses. A 7-speed automatic replaces the 5-speed, which should have bumped the fuel economy, but the increase in horsepower made the 2017 EPA ratings the same as the 2015, but again, the performance is better. Note: Nissan skipped the 2016 model year for Armada.
When the Armada arrived for me to start reviewing, my first thought was “Wow. This is big”. I understood how Nissan came to name it Armada. It is a bit menacing to look at with huge tires and wheels, a high beltline, large wheel well moldings, and bold grill. It is not unattractive; it somehow appears even larger than it is.
My Hermosa Blue review vehicle is the top-of-the-line Platinum model, but you can step down to the SV, and in the middle is the SL. It is 4-wheel drive, but 2-wheel drive is standard. Armada is the cousin to the Infiniti QX80.
The interior makes a good impression.
As I opened the door I was hit by a beautiful all-leather interior. The front seats are wide and comfortable as you sit down behind the large steering wheel, which has many controls. An extremely large center console has big cup holders, and a separate holder for your cell phone. Gauges are also large and easy to read. I also found the audio, air conditioning controls, and the touchscreen well marked and easy to operate. The same is true of the 4-wheel drive system controls that are located on the center console.
As a guy of average height, for a vehicle this size, the lack of headroom was a bit surprising. But the way the vehicle is configured, back seat headroom was actually more than the front seat. Legroom is really good for all passengers. My tester had a second row bench seat, so it would seat 8 people. You can get second row captain chairs, which cuts you to 7-passenger capacity. Third row seating has a lot of room, even for average-sized adults. The true bright spot of the 2017 Armada is the interior; it is luxury-level, except for the faux wood, which still looks fine.
My test model doesn’t lack on features.
The Platinum I had for a week comes standard with everything you would expect in the top-level trim. In fact, it did not have a single option.
Included in the price, you get: 20” wheels, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert and emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, and rearview camera. You also get the leather interior I spoke of, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, power tilt and heated steering wheel, and a 13-speaker Bose stereo. As you would expect, you get Bluetooth connectivity, navigation system, and of course all power accessories.
Other notable standard features include a rear seat entertainment system with monitors in the front headrests, including wireless headphones. It also comes with a power sliding moon roof, automatic headlights, power folding mirrors, fog lights, power tailgate, trailer towing package, and two-tone paint. It has a power third row seat as well, but I have to say, it’s the slowest one I have ever seen. My fingers got tired holding the buttons down and I quipped on the radio show last Saturday that I could grow a beard before the third row went up and down.
As you can see, the Platinum version is extremely well equipped. The second row captain chairs are all I can see is missing, and glory be, the 2017 Armada comes with a full-sized spare tire and wheel. The Armada weighs almost 6000-pounds, but has towing capacity of an impressive 8500-pounds.
In a nutshell, it’s a mixed bag.
Given its overall size (it’s almost as tall as it is wide) driving impressions were odd for me. I have driven SUVs larger than this, but didn’t feel nearly as big as they are. Armada, at least to me, felt like it was lumbering. Acceleration lacked a little for 390-horses. Although the interior was very quiet at cruising speed, you hear a lot of engine noise when accelerating heavily. After a week of mixed driving, I averaged 15-miles per gallon, which is exactly what it is rated at.
In summary, the 2017 Armada, like its predecessors, is a mixed bag for me and I am a guy who loves large SUVs. At one point, I parked next to a full-sized Range Rover and the Armada dwarfed it. It is roomy, it has great towing capacity, and the price appears to be about $3,000 less than a comparably equipped Chevy Tahoe, which for me is a much more enjoyable SUV.