The 2021 Nissan Armada is the company’s largest SUV, and is one of just a handful of full-size, body-on-frame sport utility vehicles on the market. While the first-generation Armada was based on the Titan pickup, the second-generation model is an Americanized version of the Nissan Patrol, a Toyota Land Cruiser-like vehicle that’s been on sale in its current generation in other parts of the world since 2010. The Patrol made its debut here in the US as the second-gen Armada for the 2017 model year, but has been offered here as the Infiniti QX56/QX80 since 2011.
The Armada packs a V8 engine, room for eight, ample towing capacity, and an available four-wheel-drive system with traditional low-range gearing. While the QX80 technically serves as the Armada’s luxury alternative, the Armada itself boasts a semi-premium cabin with upscale appointments. It’s also been updated for 2021, which we’ll get into in more detail below.
What’s New for 2021?
The Armada gets a facelift for 2021. The front and rear fascias have been redesigned and incorporate new lighting, there’s a new standard 12.3-in infotainment system with wi-fi, Android Auto, and wireless Apple CarPlay. There’s a new 7.0-in gauge cluster display, and a newly available integrated trailer brake controller too. A new Midnight Edition package with black exterior and interior bits, and a new color; Coulis Red Pearl, join as well. It’s also the first vehicle in Nissan’s lineup to wear the company’s new logo. Finally, Nissan has also re-rated the Armada’s 5.6-liter V8 engine, and now quotes it at 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft, up from 390 and 394.
What We Like
- Powerful V8 engine
- Four-wheel drive low-range
- It’s a traditional body-on-frame SUV in the era of the crossover
- Modern infotainment system
- Quiet cabin
- Upscale interior appointments
- 8,500-lb tow rating
What We Don’t
- Despite its updates, it’s still a 10 year-old old design
- Update doesn’t include the Titan’s 9-speed automatic
- No second-row side-impact airbags
- Poor fuel economy
MSRP: $48,500 – $67,900; $1,395 Destination & Handling
The 2021 Nissan Armada uses the same 5.6-liter V8 as in years past, but it’s now rated at 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. This comes mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission sending power to either the rear wheels, or to all four via an optional full-time four-wheel drive system. You’ll find the same engine under the hood of the Titan pickup, which was also given a bump in power with its recent facelift. The Armada sticks with a 7-speed automatic transmission for 2021; we’re a little surprised it didn’t receive the Titan’s new 9-speed.
Official EPA ratings for the 2021 Nissan Armada are 14 miles per gallon in the city, 19 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg combined in RWD form. With AWD, the 2021 Armada is rated at 13 mpg city/18 mpg hwy/15 mpg.
Standard Features & Options
The 2021 Nissan Armada will ultimately follow Nissan’s established four-tier trim structure, starting out with a base-level S trim, which will join the ranks at a later date, and topping out with the near-luxury Platinum model.
The Armada S costs $48,500 with RWD, or $51,500 with AWD. Standard equipment includes a 5.7-liter V8 engine, a bevy of active safety technology, and a 12.3-in infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The SV ($52,500 RWD, $55,500 AWD) has heated front seats, a fold-flat third-row seat, a push-button ignition, four 12-volt power outlets, automatic dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, the new 12.3-in infotainment system with wifi, navigation, Android Auto, and wireless Apple CarPlay, and heated side-view mirrors.
An available ‘SV Appearance Package’ adds 20-in wheels, fog lights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, and a power liftgate. The Armada also comes standard with a full suite of active safety features, which we’ll touch on in the ‘Safety’ section below.
The SL ($55,900 RWD, $58,900 AWD) adds to the SV’s standard and optional equipment 20-in wheels, leather seating and door trim, LED fog lights, power memory driver’s seat and steering wheel, a power sunroof, a 360-degree surround-view camera system with moving object detection, remote start, a power liftgate, a 13-speaker Bose audio system, and trailer sway control
A ‘Midnight Edition Package’ available for the SL trim adds unique 20-in wheels, and a variety of black trim pieces throughout both the interior and exterior.
The Platinum ($64,900 RWD, $67,900 AWD) includes all of the SL’s features and options plus 22-in wheels, quilted leather seats, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, a rear entertainment system, an intelligent rear view mirror, rain-sensing windshield wipers with a de-ice function, rear step lights, traffic sign recognition, a backup collision intervention system, illuminated cup holders, and a power reclining and folding third row.
SL and Platinum models can be optioned with second-row captain’s chairs in place of the standard bench seat. This reduces seating capacity from eight to seven. The Armada’s available full-time four-wheel drive system is optional on all trims.
Every 2021 Nissan Armada comes standard with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring with an intervention function, rear cross traffic detection, rear automatic emergency braking, full-speed radar cruise control, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, and a driver-attention monitor. There’s also a rear-door alert system that reminds drivers to check the rear seat if the system detects that the rear doors were opened prior to driving but not again at the end of the trip. (It’s intended to keep parents and guardians from forgetting about sleeping children in the back seat.) Other standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control plus front, front-side-impact and side-curtain airbags.
In crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the current-gen Armada scored 5 out of 5 stars in side impact testing, but an underwhelming 3 out of 5 stars in both the front-end collision and rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash-tested the current-generation Nissan Armada.
Behind the Wheel
When we use the word “refined” in talking about the Armada, we’re primarily talking about passenger convenience and comfort. The Armada is still a big, rugged, body-on-frame SUV. Nissan’s decision to base the latest-generation Armada on the Patrol — and not the Titan, which underpinned the previous-generation Armada — has improved the Armada’s ride quality and somewhat tamed its driving experience. But it’s still a brute when it comes to road manners, as is the case with most large, truck-like SUVs. The trade-off here is increased off-road capability — while the Armada is no Jeep Wrangler, it’ll tackle trails a lot more confidently than a Pathfinder would.
Nissan increased twisted body stiffness by 20 percent in the second-gen Armada, and this improved 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, Nissan engineers have reduced noise levels to those of a large sedan.
In spite of its mammoth proportions, the Armada is easy to maneuver. The steering is responsive, and the brakes are firm. We wouldn’t want to have to parallel park it every day, but the Armada drives smaller than it looks.
Other Cars to Consider
2021 Chevrolet Tahoe — The Tahoe is all-new for 2021 and is considerably more modern than the Armada, even after the Armada’s recent update. The Tahoe is functional and roomy, and offers a few different available powertrains. It’s the obvious choice in this segment, if obvious is what you’re after.
2021 Ford Expedition — The Expedition is another stalward in the full-size SUV segment, offering a robust powertrain, a utilitarian cabin pulled directly from the F-150, and class-leading towing capacity of up to 9,300lbs.
2021 Infiniti QX80 — Though it doesn’t see an update of its own for 2021, the QX80 is still virtually identical to the Armada underneath its more dramatic styling and more luxurious interior. The two vehicles share all their major components — it isn’t a stretch to call the QX80 a rebadged Armada. The QX80 comes with more perceived status and a higher price tag, but lacks the Armada’s updates; at this point the Armada is the more attractive option.
2021 Toyota Sequoia — The Sequoia is now in its 14th year since its last major redesign. While it lags behind the Tahoe, Expedition, and other segment leaders in modernity and efficiency, it’s that renowned Toyota reliability that keeps the Sequoia competitive. Its powertrain is very similar to the Armada’s, but the Sequoia comes in a wider variety of trim levels.
Used Toyota Land Cruiser — Overseas, the Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol are big competitors. Each offers capability and durability and is relied upon for heavy-duty applications in Australia and the Middle East. The Land Cruiser has more off-road capability than the Armada, but it’s also more expensive.
The 2021 Nissan Armada offers a pretty impressive suite of active safety tech, and its standard 5.6-liter V8 is a potent and proven engine. The most noteworthy update it receives for 2021 is its modern infotainment system, which offers just about all of the media and connectivity features one could ask for in the modern era. Additionally, the newly-integrated trailer brake controller positions the Armada as more of a tow vehicle than it was in years past, and its 8,500lb towing capacity positions it nicely within its segment. Finally, this vehicle will likely appeal to anyone wanting to deviate from the norm; in this segment, Ford and GM reign supreme, while the Armada remains more of a niche option. Altogether, while it isn’t as modern as the Americans, the Armada remains attractive in this segment for its mix of premium construction and value-oriented pricing, and it’s worth a look for anyone wanting a big, robust V8 powered SUV. Find a 2021 Nissan Armada for sale