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2015 Nissan Armada: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2014

When it comes to family-hauling full-size SUVs, the 2015 Nissan Armada is about as traditional as it gets. This big SUV is built to haul, tow and move loads of passengers, thanks in part to its rugged body-on-frame platform and powerful V8 engine. After all, how many vehicles let you trailer up to 9,000 pounds and also cart around eight people? Of course, the downside to Nissan's big SUV formula is a truck-like ride 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. Once you start driving, the roughness of the ride may be cause for complaint from passengers.

What's New for 2015?

Some new interior styling bits, standard power lumbar support for the driver's seat and new 20-inch alloy wheels for the SL and Platinum trims round out the big changes for 2015.

What We Like

Capable off-road; strong V8 engine; high tow limit; comfortable interior; good visibility

What We Don't

Rough, truck-like ride; numb steering; relatively limited cargo space; poor fuel economy

How Much?

$39,055-$57,500

Fuel Economy

The 2015 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 9,000 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 in the city and 19 mpg on the highway in rear-wheel-drive versions, and an even thirstier 12 mpg city/18 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

For 2015, 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 ($39,055) include an 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, Bluetooth, power functions for the windows, heated outside mirrors and door locks, 18-in wheels and an 8-speaker AM/FM/6CD/USB sound system.

The midlevel SL ($44,145) 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 ($51,425) 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, a rearview monitor, 11-speaker Bose audio, steering wheel controls and a power lift gate. Both of these packages are only available for the SV 4x2 trim.

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.

Safety

Standard safety features for the Armada include an anti-lock braking system (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 have 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. 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. 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 truck-like, 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 than the Armada does. 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 than the Armada. 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.

Used Cadillac Escalade -- A 2009-2013 Cadillac Escalade or Escalade EXT provides more interior room, a better ride and more power, plus an available hybrid model.

AutoTrader's Advice

We suggest the midrange Armada SL. This model includes 20-in wheels, a self-leveling rear suspension, a 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.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Nissan Armada: New Car Review - Autotrader