The 2014 Nissan Armada is as traditional as an SUV gets. Its heavy-duty, body-on-frame utility is intended for hauling, towing and treading off-road. This means you can expect trucklike ride quality and subpar fuel economy -- two attributes that are not very popular among family buyers. That said, the Armada offers a comfortable, attractive and spacious cabin that's both inviting and nicely equipped. From the inside, it looks like an ideal space in which to take a long road trip. But once you start driving, the roughness of the ride may be cause for complaint from passengers.
For those who need a serious workhorse first and a family vehicle second, the Armada is a good fit. After all, how many vehicles let you trailer up to 9,100 pounds and also cart around eight people? Yes, the Armada is better suited for hard labor than trips with the family. But for those who prefer a little edge and muscle -- even when they're treating their vehicle as family transportation -- the Armada gets the job done.
What's New for 2014?
The Armada carries over into 2014 with no major changes.
What We Like
Capable off-road; strong engines; high tow limit; comfortable interior; good visibility
What We Don't
Rough, trucklike ride; relatively limited cargo space; low fuel economy
The 2014 Nissan Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 that makes 317 horsepower and a stout 385 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed automatic transmission channels energy to either the rear wheels or to a dual-range 4-wheel-drive system. Maximum towing capacity is 9,100 pounds when the Armada is equipped properly.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the fuel economy for the V8-powered Armada is a gas-guzzling 13 miles per gallon city/19 mpg highway in rear-wheel-drive versions, and an even thirstier 12 mpg city/18 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive.
Standard Features & Options
For 2014, Nissan continues to offer the Armada in three trim levels: SV, SL and Platinum. Each is available with a choice of 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive.
Standard convenience features for the base SV ($37,855) include an 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, Bluetooth, power functions for the windows, heated outside mirrors and door locks, 18-inch wheels and an 8-speaker AM/FM/6CD/USB sound system.
The mid-level SL ($43,175) adds leather, heated driver and passenger seats, 11-speaker Bose audio, a power rear lift gate, Intelligent Key keyless entry and start, rear leveling suspension, a rearview camera, 20-in dark chrome wheels and a power-folding third row.
The range-topping Platinum ($50,455) adds a sunroof, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, Nissan navigation, front sonar parking aids, power-folding outside mirrors, a twin-screen DVD entertainment system, and memory functions for the driver's seat, pedals and mirrors.
The SV trim offers a Tow Package (receiver hitch, 7-pin wiring harness plug and brake controller jumper wire) and a Driver Package that adds fog lights, rearview monitor, 11-speaker Bose audio, steering wheel controls and a power lift gate.
The Platinum Reserve Package adds dark chrome exterior details, 20-in dark chrome wheels, rear-seat USB ports and a premium 2-tone leather interior.
The Armada provides an impressive 20 cu ft of cargo space behind the third-row seat, 56.7 with the third row folded and a whopping 97.1 with both the second- and third-row seats folded flat.
Standard safety features for the Armada include ABS, stability control, traction control, six airbags and active front head restraints. Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has crash-tested the Armada, though the government did perform a rollover test that earned the Armada three out of five stars.
Behind the Wheel
The Nissan Armada is powerful, but it's also big and heavy. That means it feels lethargic sometimes, especially when weighed down by a full load of passengers and cargo. It also seems to labor under hard, off-the-line acceleration. But once this big SUV gets its momentum going, it moves along swiftly, particularly at highway speeds.
Off-road, the Armada is very confident. It can climb and crawl over most terrain, in large part because of its very competent all-mode 4-wheel-drive system. This system also helps make the Armada more sure-footed when towing a heavy load such as a boat, a U-Haul trailer or a flatbed.
On normal roads, the Armada feels harsh and trucklike, with considerable body roll in corners. The vehicle's high center of gravity will encourage drivers to reduce their speed dramatically on curves. For these reasons, the Armada is not an ideal people mover. But for those who are used to the ride and feel of a big pickup, the Armada will suit them just fine.
Other Cars to Consider
Chevrolet Tahoe -- The Tahoe has better ride comfort, more features and greater cargo capacity. When it comes to carrying people, the Tahoe's third-row seat is also more spacious and usable than the Armada's.
Ford Expedition -- The Expedition offers more in the way of interior refinement, creature comforts and technology. It also has an adult-sized third-row seat. The Armada falls short in all of these areas.
Toyota Sequoia -- The Sequoia beats the Armada in fuel economy, refinement, interior space and ride comfort. The Armada leans much further in the direction of heavy-duty utility.
We suggest the mid-range Armada SL. This model includes 20-in wheels, a self-leveling rear suspension, roof rack, leather seats with front-seat heat, push-button start and a power-folding rear seat. In other words, it has all the premium convenience features you would want on a large SUV. Upgrading to the Platinum adds a significant premium to the price for a handful of what, in our opinion, are unnecessary features, such as a heated steering wheel, chrome wheels and a memory driver's seat. We do recommend 4-wheel drive for all-terrain or all-weather driving. That feature really suits the purpose of a vehicle as capable and rugged as the Armada.