AUTO REVIEW: Nissan Armada Offers Luxury and Utility in a Family Vehicle With Room for 8
For 2020, the Nissan Armada continues its legacy as a true family adventure-ready vehicle, offering comfortable seating for up to eight and flexible cargo space for their stuff.
With best-in-class standard 390 horsepower from an advanced 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 and rugged body-on-frame construction providing strength and durability, Armada also offers best-in-class towing of up to 8,500 pounds when properly equipped. Torque is rated at 394 foot-pounds.
Four trims are available, in either rear- or four-wheel drive. Prices for two-wheel-drive models are: SV, $47,100; SL, $54,900; Platinum, $60,530; and Platinum Reserve, $65,030. Four-wheel drive adds $3,000.
A new 22-inch Wheel Package ($2,250) brings 22-by-8-inch 14-spoke forged aluminum-alloy wheels with all-season tires. Heated outside mirrors are now standard on all trims.
The Endurance V-8 is paired with an advanced seven-speed automatic transmission with Adaptive Shift Control, Downshift Rev Matching and manual shift mode. ASC shifts to a low gear according to the slope of the road, using engine braking to reduce the frequency of manual braking.
Armada has an aggressive stance with a bold V-motion grille, standard LED low-beam headlights, halogen high beams and LED daytime running lights — preserving the previous generation’s sturdy, energetic image, with up-to-date styling.
The front fenders feature functional air intake vents. Heated anti-dazzle side mirrors with memory have puddle lights. Bold combination lights in the rear include LED taillights.
My Armada Platinum was Super Black, with a Platinum Reserve Package ($4,500) that added the 22-inch 14-spoke wheels, Platinum Reserve exterior badging, dark chrome grille and door handles, dark chrome rear license-plate finisher, power heated and folding dark chrome side mirrors with turn signals, premium two-tone leather seating with contrast stitching, open-pore wood-tone and Black Quartz (gloss black, on the center stack and console) interior trim, and Platinum Reserve interior badging.
The black and brown interior was elegant, with black quilted seat and back inserts, center console, dash and door armrests. The seat bolsters, headrests, seat backs, upper door panels and center stack were brown. The wide wood-tone panels on the dash and upper door added an extra touch of elegance — reminiscent of an old-school drawing room. Front- and second-row seatbacks were embossed with Platinum Reserve.
A Welcome Light Package ($395) illuminated the area beneath and around the vehicle by pressing a button on the key fob or the entry button. The light faded in and out with the dome light when the door was opened. The stainless-steel kick plates with illuminated Armada logos ($390) lit the entrance and protected the front sills.
The interior was roomy, quiet and comfortable, with second-row fold-down captain’s chairs ($450) with tip-up easy entry for the 60/40-split folding third-row bench. The package added a padded center console with wood-tone trim. The power-folding third-row bench folded flat into the floor for extra cargo space. A large moon roof with tilt front and slide rear panels provided lots of natural light and/or ventilation when desired.
A Dual-Zone Automatic Temperature Control system with microfilter included a second-row “curtain” vent to distribute cool air to every seat. Heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel and heated second-row seats were standard.
The second row had A/C controls on the back of the front console, along with seat controls, power outlets and volume controls for the standard DVD Family Entertainment System with 8-inch monitors on the front headrests, USB and HDMI ports, two wireless headphones (with three surround modes; cinema, music and game) and remote controller. The headphones and controller are stored under the rear center console.
One of my favorite features is the Intelligent Rearview Mirror, which uses a high-resolution camera on the rear of the vehicle to project an image on an LCD monitor built into a standard rearview mirror. With the flip of a switch, the driver can choose a traditional rearview mirror or the expanded field of view, which also “removes” interior obstacles such as cargo or headrests for better visibility.
A Bose audio system with 13 speakers supported AM/FM/SXM/MP3/CD/WMA/HD radio and auxiliary sources, with rich, realistic sound reproduction. Nissan Navigation with Nav Traffic Real-Time Traffic Information and SiriusXM Travel Link (three-year trial) were standard.
Nissan Connect Services powered by SiriusXM (navigation, security, entertainment and communication) uses a multitouch control screen or voice control via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant in-vehicle or remotely. With safety a concern, hands-free text messaging and Bluetooth hands-freephone/streaming audio are standard.
Passengers had access to five USB ports — two charge-only, three charge with iPod connection — and three 12-volt and one 120-volt outlets.
Acoustic glass on the windshield and front side windows, along with the windshield design, helped keep the cabin quiet for enjoying music and rear-seat entertainment — even conversation.
Configured for seven passenger, storage options included nine cupholders, four bottle holders, front- and rear-door storage pockets and third-row side trays, cargo area storage under the floor and eight cargo-area tie-down hooks.
A power liftgate made loading the cargo area easy.With all seats in place, 16.5 cubic feet of space is available. Folding both rear rows opens up 95.4 cubic feet of cargo space.
A standard Rear Door Alert was activated if a rear door was opened prior to driving the vehicle and was not opened again at the end of the trip, reminding the driver with visual and audible alerts to check the rear seat.
Safety features and driving aids included Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control and Intelligent Distance Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Intelligent Lane Intervention and Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Blind Spot Intervention and Blind Spot Warning, Rearview Monitor and Intelligent Around View Monitor (an extra set of “eyes” for backing, parking or tight off-road trails) and Intelligent Backup Intervention.
Zone body construction with front and rear crumple zones, hood-buckling creases and safety stops, energy-absorbing steering column and high-strength side-door guard beams work with seat-mounted side-impact air bags and roof-mounted curtain side-impact air bags with rollover sensors for head protection to form a protective barrier around occupants in case of the unavoidable collision. Armada also has a Vehicle Security System and Vehicle Immobilizer System.
Rain-sensing windshield wipers and wiper deicer, along with Vehicle Dynamic Control with Traction Control and Active Brake Limited Slip came in handy during the inclement weather encountered during my test period.
My Armada had all-mode four-wheel drive with Auto/4H/4LO modes using switch-operated transfer. A tow hitch receiver and trailer brake pre-wiring were standard. An 18-inch spare was stored under the cargo area, along with changing tools. A carpeted floor mat/cargo mat package added $355.
The four-wheel drive Armada is rated for 13 mpg city/18 highway/15 combined. Driving mostly on the highway, I averaged 16.6mpg.
Nissan Armada Platinum is an impressive large vehicle with lots of passenger and cargo flexibility. Comfort and safety are prime considerations, with plenty of technology to achieve both.
I did, however, find some of the infotainment technology less than user-friendly. A study period would be needed for efficient long-term use.
Options totaling $6,090 and destination charges of $1,395 brought the delivered price of my 2020 Armada Platinum Reserve 4WD to $71,015.
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