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2018 Nissan Armada: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Nissan Armada, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Nissan Armada Review

The 2018 Nissan Armada is more than just another full-size family hauler. It serves as the flagship vehicle showcasing Nissan’s latest innovative technologies. It also happens to be quite capable, with a lower base price than the Chevy Tahoe, more horsepower than the Toyota Sequoia and a more upscale interior than the new Ford Expedition.

Compared to the first generation, the current Armada is a bit smaller, more maneuverable and far less trucklike. 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, however, as the 2018 Armada is based on the popular Nissan Patrol SUV sold in numerous markets outside the U.S. and Canada.

What’s New for 2018?

For 2018, all Armadas now come with the NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM and an 8-inch multi-touch control display. A new Platinum Reserve trim is added, and for the first time on any Nissan vehicle, Armada Platinum and Platinum Reserve models feature the Intelligent Rear View Mirror (I-RVM). This mirror uses a high-resolution camera mounted at the back of the vehicle to project an image onto an LCD screen incorporated into the rearview mirror. A switch at the bottom of the mirror allows the driver to choose between the LCD view or the traditional glass rearview mirror. See the 2018 Nissan Armada models for sale near you

What We Like

Rugged yet refined; quiet interior; upscale interior appointments; powerful V8; 8,500-pound tow rating; less expensive than the competition

What We Don’t

Less third-row space and cargo room than the Chevy Suburban; second-row side-impact airbags should at least be available as an option; poor fuel economy; only one USB outlet for the entire vehicle

How Much?

$46,895-$67,000

Fuel Economy

The Armada is powered by the same 390-hp 5.6-liter V8 found in the Infiniti QX80. This engine it paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission that distributes engine output to either the rear or all four wheels.

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 & Options

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

The SV ($46,895) 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-in touchscreen, a navigation system and a 13-speaker Bose 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 ($51,645) 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 ($59,985) includes all the SL’s features and options plus heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, I-RVM rearview monitor/mirror, 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 a DVD player. The only available option is second-row captain’s chairs, reducing total seating from eight to seven.

The Platinum Reserve ($62,985) adds dark chrome trim, 20-in dark chrome wheels, two-tone leather-appointed seats plus Black Quartz and premium wood interior trim.

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 almost all 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 2018 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 Cars to Consider

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe — The Tahoe feels more trucklike than the 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.

2018 Toyota SequoiaToyota’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.

2018 Ford Expedition — If towing is your main reason for owning a full-size SUV, look no further: The Expedition can pull up to 9,300 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.

Used Land Rover Range Rover — A 2014-2016 Land Rover Range Rover offers luxury, power and capability plus a more engaging driver experience and impressive off-road abilities.

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 just over $50,000, the SL trim gets you most of the luxury appointments.

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