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2017 Nissan Armada: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader September 2016

Every carmaker needs a vehicle it can hold up as its flagship. At Nissan, that vehicle is the Armada -- for the brand's crossovers and SUVs at any rate. The Armada is the bruiser tasked with taking on the likes of the Chevrolet Tahoe, the Toyota Sequoia and the Ford Expedition. These aren't the biggest of the big, but they do quite handily define "full-size."

Marking its second generation, the 2017 Nissan Armada is substantially different from its predecessor in nearly every way. Nissan took the opportunity to not only redesign but actually re-engineer the Armada from its platform up. It wasn't exactly a clean-sheet-of-paper undertaking, but Nissan did jump off from a significantly different starting point the second time around.

What's New for 2017?

Just about everything is new, at least on the Armada. Rather than continuing to base the SUV on the Titan pickup truck, Nissan instead turned to the global and well-regarded Patrol SUV for the Armada's infrastructure. This is a total redesign that touches virtually every aspect of the vehicle, from its foundation, to its powertrain, to its cabin and its technology. Although the engine is built in Tennessee, Nissan moved Armada's final assembly from Mississippi to Japan.

What We Like

This new Armada is more rugged and capable than the SUV it replaces, but it's also more refined, bordering on luxurious. Remarkably quiet, the cabin features upscale appointments, soft-touch surfaces and better-than-expected comfort. Its V8 is more powerful, and its transmission more sophisticated. Plus, it can tow up to 8,500 pounds.

What We Don't

Less third-row space and cargo room than first generation; second-row side-impact airbags should at least be available as an option; the 2017 Armada costs measurably more than the last one

How Much?

$45,395-$60,985

Fuel Economy

New to the Armada, the same 390-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 found in the Infiniti QX80 now powers Nissan's big SUV. A new 7-speed automatic transmission distributes engine output to either the rear or all four wheels.

Despite the new 5.6-liter engine delivering 73 hp more than the previous V8, fuel economy is marginally improved. Government-estimated mileage for the rear-wheel-drive model is 14 miles per gallon in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. For all-wheel-drive versions, it's 13 mpg city/18 mpg hwy. These numbers are 1 mpg better for city mileage.

Standard Features and Options

The Armada follows Nissan's established grade structure, offering SV, SL and Platinum trim levels.

The SV ($45,395) includes heated front bucket seats, a fold-flat third-row seat, push-button ignition, four 12-volt power points, dual-zone auto climate control, a backup camera, Bluetooth connectivity, an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and a 13-speaker Bose-infused audio system. Available options include a power lift gate, a power-folding third-row seat, fog lights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and remote keyless entry.

The SL ($50,100) comes right out of the box with all of the SV's standard and optional equipment and adds leather seating, front and rear parking sensors, remote start, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, heated outboard mirrors and 360-degree around-view cameras with moving-object detection. Available options include a power moonroof, Nissan's Intelligent Cruise Control and Distance Control Assist systems, a blind spot monitoring system, backup-collision intervention, forward-collision warning and forward-emergency braking.

The Platinum ($58,040) includes all the SL's features and options plus heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, a front-wiper deicer, leather door trim, blind spot intervention, lane-departure warning and intervention and a rear-seat family entertainment system with dual 7-in headrest monitors, two wireless headphones and DVD player. The only available option is second-row captain's chairs, reducing total seating from eight to seven.

Safety

As you make your way up through the three grades, safety technology improves significantly. Only the top-end Platinum comes standard with the full suite of safety technologies like lane-departure warning and intervention, forward-emergency braking and forward-collision warning, although some of these are optional on the mid-level SL trim.

As of this writing, neither the government nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the 2017 Nissan Armada.

Behind the Wheel

Don't be fooled by all our talk of refinement, which primarily refers to passenger convenience and comfort. The updated Armada is still a big, rugged, body-on-frame SUV. Although basing it on the Patrol rather than the Titan has improved the Armada's ride quality and somewhat tamed its driving characteristics, it's still a brute when it comes to capability. This is particularly true when off-roading with all-wheel-drive versions. Plus, the Armada doesn't feel as trucky as the Tahoe.

Nissan incorporated a 20-percent increase in twisted body stiffness, which improves both handling and ride comfort. By adding acoustic glass to the windshield and front-side windows and beefing up the amount of sound insulation around the passenger space, the designers have reduced noise levels to those of a large sedan.

In spite of its mammoth proportions, this SUV is easy to maneuver. The steering is responsive, and the brakes are firm. We wouldn't want to have to parallel park it on a daily basis, but the Armada drives smaller than it looks.

Other SUVs to Consider

2017 Chevrolet Tahoe -- The Tahoe feels more trucklike than Armada, but it can also tow slightly more weight. Seating up to nine, its pleasing interior is functional and roomy, and it offers a Wi-Fi hot spot.

2016 Toyota Sequoia -- Toyota's big SUV isn't in the same league as the Armada, the Expedition and the Tahoe when it comes to towing capability, but for a big SUV, the Sequoia's ride is hard to beat. In fact, passenger space and comfort are its best attributes.

2017 Ford Expedition -- If towing is your main reason for owning a full-size SUV, look no further: The Expedition can pull up to 9,200 lbs. There's plenty of interior and cargo room, too. And because it's powered by a turbocharged V6, fuel economy is extremely good for this segment.

Autotrader's Advice

Delivering the best of both worlds in terms of price and equipment, the SL is your best bet. You can still opt in for most of the safety and driver-assistance technologies if you want them, but for $50,000, the SL trim gets you most of the luxury appointments.

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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.
2017 Nissan Armada: New Car Review - Autotrader