With its imposing stance and rugged styling that's a bit bolder than that of other full-size SUVs, the 2009 Nissan Armada stands out in looks but not necessarily performance or practicality. Revamped for the 2008 model year, the Nissan Armada returns for 2009 with its standard 5.6-liter V-8 engine producing 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, as well as a sprinkling of revised equipment and package offerings.
The 2009 Nissan Armada's five-speed automatic transmission offers class-leading towing capacity of up to 9,100 pounds and doesn't hesitate to downshift. The Armada is, quite simply, a guzzler; the EPA city rating is just 12 mpg, and lower real-world figures are likely if you're doing a lot of stop-and-go. The ride of the 2009 Nissan Armada is firm but smooth, soaking up most major bumps, but all of its heft is felt in corners and when braking.
The front seats are perched relatively high, which gives good forward visibility, though the thick rear side pillars impair backward visibility. The front seats are quite comfortable, though, and it's easy to find a good driving position with the available adjustable pedals. The 2009 Nissan Armada has a seating capacity of up to eight passengers with standard second- and third-row bench seats; second-row captain's chairs are also offered for a seven-passenger capacity. When the third-row seats are up, there's very little cargo space left. The instrument panel is eye-catching, but the materials and plastics inside still lag those used in top rivals.
The 2009 Armada hasn't been crash-tested by the insurance-industry-affiliated IIHS, but in the federal government's tests, it receives four- and five-star results in frontal impact protection, with three-star results in rollover because of the Armada's high center of mass. Side curtain airbags and stability control are standard, along with anti-lock brakes. The LE model adds front side airbags, which are also available in the 2009 Nissan Armada SE model's Premium Package option.
Automatic dual-zone air conditioning, a 60/40 split fold-flat third-row seat, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, and the ability to play MP3-formatted CDs are all standard features on the 2009 Nissan Armada, which is offered in SE and LE models. LE models have load-leveling suspension, fog lamps, a power rear liftgate, leather trim, front parking sensors, a rear camera system, and an upgraded sound system. Power heated folding mirrors are standard on 2009 Nissan Armada LE versions, and the Tow Package is now standard on the SE Off-Road edition. What was last year's Preferred Package--heated front seats, power quarter glass flip-out, power folding outside mirrors with puddle lamps and turn signals, memory setting for driver's seat/mirrors/pedals, and Bluetooth hands-free phone system--is now standard equipment on the Armada LE. The Armada LE Tow Package (receiver hitch with 7-pin wiring harness, larger battery, 3.357:1 gear ratio) now comes standard on the Armada LE base model.
The Bottom Line:
Competitors to the 2009 Nissan Armada offer roomier interiors and better options, but the Armada should be commended for its handsome looks and powerful V-8 engine.