Our time is up: We’ve officially spent a year behind the wheel of our long-term 2017 Nissan Armada test car, and we’ve certainly put the full-size SUV through its paces — hauling kids, taking it on trips and generally doing what you do when you have a big SUV. Now, it’s time to give the Armada back, so we’re wrapping up our thoughts on a year behind the wheel of the biggest Nissan you can buy.
Although full-size, V8-powered SUVs like the Armada can be divisive, our staff took to the Armada right away. And it’s easy to understand why: It’s just so incredibly useful. Our executive editor, Brian Moody, pointed out that "Not only does it hold a lot of cargo, but it’s a comfortable family wagon, good for long drives, off-roading and weekend Craigslist runs."
Indeed, it can do basically anything, and it converted even the most reluctant members of our staff. Managing editor Tara Trompeter, who has only owned smaller cars, said she was "intimidated" by the Armada, and even jokingly suggested giving it back after spending a short time in it. Overall, however, she became a "big-car convert," noting it was "going to be hard to go back to something small" — especially considering the impressive power and torque from the SUV’s big V8, and how easily the Armada fit into tight spaces with the help of the incredibly useful 360-degree camera.
We also were surprised to discover we enjoyed the Nissan dealership experience, which has improved dramatically in the last few years. Said Brian: "Nissan used to be the kind of dealership where you’d dread going, but now it’s a very pleasant experience."
But Some Drawbacks
Of course, there were some flaws — and one of them (surprise, surprise) had to do with fuel economy. Interestingly, it wasn’t the fuel economy itself, as we expected the Armada’s relatively poor gas mileage given its huge size and big engine. Instead, it was the size of the fuel tank: Staffer Rob Nestora remarked that "the closest I’ve come to the 300-mile mark was a recent trip registering just over 282 miles" — just not enough, in our minds. As Brian put it, "Vehicles like the Tahoe don’t seem to need refueling quite as frequently."
We were also a little disappointed with the technology in our Armada. Although we found the center touchscreen easy to use, it’s hard to overlook the fact that there’s no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, both of which make life behind the wheel a lot easier. Brian called the absence of these features an "obvious omission," and further noted that cheaper SUVs have them — and the Armada should, too. We were also disappointed with the rear-seat DVD player, which is clunky and unintuitive; Tara remarked that she "had to pull over on the side of the road with both of my kids waiting impatiently in the back seat" to consult the owner’s manual in order to figure out how to turn on the DVD player — disappointing, as such systems are more intuitive in most other vehicles.
Our Final Verdict
Our problems with the Armada were relatively small — the fuel-tank size, the unintuitive rear-seat DVD player, the lack of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay — but the list of things we like about it is long: It’s useful, it’s surprisingly easy to drive, it’s got a lot of interior room, and the big, powerful engine is a delight for virtually any driver.
No, the Armada isn’t cheap — our test car was in the low-$60,000 range — and no, gas mileage won’t be good. But if you buy a full-size SUV, you’re expecting that — and if you look past the (obvious) issues you already knew about going in, you’ll find the Armada is an impressive family hauler with few, if any, real drawbacks. While noting his disappointment at the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Brian noted that if the Armada had those features, "it would be so close to the perfect automobile that it’d be too close to call." Indeed, it can do just about everything. Find a 2017 Nissan Armada for sale
Check out our 2017 Nissan Armada New Car Review