Nissan Armada is First Produced

The Nissan Armada is Nissan's full-size sport utility vehicle from Nissan & GNC (sharing trademark.

GNC for Europe and Nissan For Asia, and America). It shares its body-on-frame F-Alpha platform with the Nissan Titan pickup truck, Nissan Xterra SUV, Nissan Frontier pickup truck, and Nissan Pathfinder SUV. An upscale version of the Armada is sold as the Infiniti QX56. All Armadas are currently built in Canton, Mississippi.

The rear door handles are installed on the "C" pillar as a Nissan design tradition started with the 1986 Nissan Pathfinder. When the four door Pathfinder was introduced, Nissan chose to conceal the door handles as a part of the "C" pillar trim to visually make it appear like a two door truck with a camper shell, with conventional door handles on the front doors.

The Armada has a 5.6 L 360 hp (227 kW) VK56DE V8 engine, a 5-speed automatic transmission, and a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The Armada was designed for North America and introduced for the 2004 model year. The switch to the Armada name was made in 2005, where it got new badges. It was restyled for the 2008 model year.

It has a towing capacity of 9,100 lbs.

According to Consumer Reports, the Armada and QX56 have been very unreliable primarily due to problems with the brakes. But as of the 2008 model year, many of these problems have been reportedly solved, and the Consumer Reports 2008 reliability survey reflects this, with the Armada, QX56, and the related Titan all improving to average.

There are some Armadas that are capable of using E85. It was the only Japanese vehicle sold in the U.S. other than the Nissan Titan that can use E85 until the introduction of the E85 capable Toyota UR engine powered Toyota Tundra and Toyota Sequoia in 2009. The 2009 Armada has been updated with more standard features and options. 2010 will be the final year of production for the current generation Armada. For 2011 it is predicted production of the Armada will move to Japan and will be based on the 2010 Nissan Patrol.

An "armada" usually refers to a large group of things, primarily a number of large ships. It's a fitting name for Nissan's first entry in the popular large SUV segment, and pretty much every aspect of it is size L or XL. If you like your SUVs heavy on power, then that large group of ponies under the hood will be just your thing. The Armada's robust V8 translates into lots of muscle and an impressive tow rating. And then there's the large group of cubic inches in the Armada's cabin -- this is a super-spacious SUV that's also chock-full of storage areas.

The cons are as you'd expect: Fuel mileage is atrocious, and the vehicle's size means that parking can easily become a white-knuckle ordeal. But if these drawbacks really bothered you, you wouldn't consider buying the Nissan Armada in the first place.

The Armada hauls like a gorilla on steroids, and comes out on top in terms of sheer brute force. If brawn is not of paramount importance for you, though, you'd be wise to take a look at some seven-passenger crossover SUVs, which have more to offer in terms of comfort and refinement.

Current Nissan Armada

The Nissan Armada is a full-size sport-ute that seats up to eight passengers. Nissan's big SUV boasts a look that may best be described as aggressive. If you're the kind of driver who thinks an SUV should wear its brawn on its sleeve, then this is the ride for you. Its front fascia is nothing short of menacing, and its bumpers and fenders have the sort of bulging mass usually associated with power lifters and gridiron gods.

Buyers can choose from two trims with the Nissan Armada. Base SEs won't leave you wanting, thanks to features like dual-zone automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, an in-dash CD changer and rear-seat air-conditioning. The top-of-the-line LE loses the trail-busting accoutrements but adds luxury-themed goodies like a power liftgate, a rearview camera, heated leather seats and an upgraded 10-speaker Bose audio system. Popular options include a hard-drive-based navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system.

The Armada gets its juice from a 5.6-liter V8 that cranks out 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque. The mighty engine facilitates a tow rating of 9,100 pounds and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. All Armadas have the option of two- and four-wheel drive.

The cabin's aesthetic is just as testosterone-spiked as the rest of the ride. Buttons and displays are king-sized all around, as are the front- and second-row seats. The truck's huge cabin makes for impressive head- and legroom. The third row offers high, stadium-style seating; legroom is adequate but short seat bottoms make this row one for the kids. Storage space is plentiful, with no shortage of overhead storage bins.

In our editorial reviews, we noted that the Nissan Armada's V8 allows for brisk acceleration. However, the truck's heft quickly becomes apparent in cornering maneuvers and when bringing the vehicle to a halt. Nevertheless, the Armada offers a smooth ride and a pleasant driving experience, both on the highway and around town. In consumer reviews, the Armada won kudos for its back-up camera and "roominess in all three rows of seating," but took some blows for its poor gas mileage.

Used Nissan Armada Models

The current-generation Armada was introduced as an all-new model for 2004. It was initially named the Pathfinder Armada, but Nissan dropped the homage to its smaller SUV sibling in the Armada's second year of production. The most notable changes to this model occurred in 2008 with interior and exterior restyling and new technology features like keyless ignition, Bluetooth and a hard-drive-based navigation system. Until 2007, there was an SE Off-Road trim level that toughened things up for off-pavement adventures, with features like skid plates, a lower final-drive ratio and all-terrain tires.

Debuting in 2004, Nissan's first full-size SUV shares direct kinship with the Titan pickup and the Infiniti QX56. The former provides bold styling cues, a rugged framework, and first-rate powertrain elements. The latter donates exceptional functionality, an impressive array of features, and ride-enhancing independent rear suspension. Less opulent than the Infiniti, the Armada does boast a spacious, well-finished interior with room for eight, a class-leading 9100-lb maximum tow rating, and a base price that undercuts the QX56 by about $14,000. Both the SE and upline LE come in rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations, and the SE 4WD also offers a dedicated Off-Road Package. We tested a generously optioned LE 4WD.

Even larger than its key rivals, the Chevy Suburban, Ford Expedition, and Toyota Sequoia, the Armada employs a long wheelbase with short overhangs and a wide stance to enhance its appearance and help stability. A bounty of Titan-like brightwork, prominent fender flares, 18-inch alloy wheels with 265/70 (or 17-inch 285/70s with the Off-Road package) tires, and privacy glass add to this purposeful character, while standard running boards help facilitate the entry/exit procedure.

The Armada's tastefully understated cabin shows a strong Titan influence throughout. Key controls are well positioned, and white-on-black gauges afford good legibility, day or night. Included in its full complement of power assists are adjustments for both the driver's seat and pedal set. Dual-zone front/rear air conditioning is standard on all Armada variants. LE models swap cloth upholstery for leather and upgrade the AM/FM/CD with changer audio package to a 10-speaker Bose system.

The Armada's spacious nature is most evident in the first two rows of seats, where head and leg room are scaled to accommodate six-foot-plus occupants. Its well-formed front buckets are the most comfortable perches in the house. Both the captain's chairs and optional (at no charge in LE) second-row split bench flip and fold forward to ease third-tier access. However, despite "theatre style" elevation, relatively thin cushion padding and smaller key dimensions make the one-piece third-row bench a kid-only zone. Flat folding the bench is a snap--a lever pull actually--but raising it takes palpably more effort. With all seats up, the Armada can swallow 20.0 cu ft of payload through a large, two-piece power (standard LE, optional SE) liftgate. That figure maxes out at 97.1 cu ft with rows two and three down. Storage areas for personal effects include a non-locking glovebox and a center console with both open and covered bins. The utility of the latter is somewhat compromised by the optional DVD entertainment system, but there are plenty of other cubbies and pockets (plus a removable rear console in any Armada with captain's chairs) for lesser items plus a full-length overhead console. Also on hand: four cupholders, eight bottle holders, and four 12V powerpoints.