There’s no scarcity of hulking SUVs designed to deliver your loved ones and all of your gear on adventures—or to the grocery retailer. Whereas usually ignored within the full-size, three-row class, the Nissan Armada is making a case for itself with a 2021 refresh. The updates are geared toward making the journey extra refined, comfy, and splendid for seven or eight passengers, whereas maintaining the brutish V8 energy the truck-based SUV’s at all times had. On the within, the sport-ute feels extra like Nissan’s Infinity QX80 than the model’s Titan pickup. That’s the place the Armada story began: Nissan bolted an SUV’s physique to the truck’s body again in 2004. To see if the updates are sufficient to place the Armada into the dialog with the Tahoe, Yukon, and Expedition, we packed the SUV with baggage, bikes, and (at one level) 5 youngsters and headed out on a protracted weekend journey from New York to Rhode Island.
Day 1: Settling Into the Inside
With the Armada’s roots planted firmly in a pickup truck, it’s no shock its early interiors felt truck-like. Utility trumped luxurious, with swaths of exhausting plastic trim within the cabin that made pulling into the mall car parking zone really feel like clocking in on a development website. That’s modified for 2021. The seats up entrance are comfy and plush with quilted leather-based and soft-touch accents. The middle console has a standard shifter, which we like, and doorways that fold down to cover cup holders, which helps maintain the inside tidy. Anybody with open cup holders is aware of how shortly they grow to be the driving force’s damp, sticky, penny-filled lost-and-found.
The center row could be a bench or two captain’s chairs, and in our tester they simply flipped ahead for third-row entry. These sitting within the center have a middle console, however they’ll additionally flip the highest open on the entrance row’s armrest to entry storage. Throughout our journey, we stashed snacks and charging cables there, which minimize down on whining.
Whereas that final row is roomy sufficient for babies on fast rides of, say, lower than 45 minutes, it’s too tight for adults on all however the shortest journeys. In case your brood requires stashing a toddler again there constantly, by default it’ll need to be the shortest one of many lot as a result of restricted head- and legroom. And even then, he or she is prone to complain. That mentioned, 4 or 5 adults can discover the Armada a really comfy and quiet journey. In our case, two adults and 5 kids all beneath the age of 10—with three spaced throughout the rear seat—had sufficient area to deal with a 30-minute journey with out a mutiny. The trunk behind the third row is a sparse 16.5 cubic ft—that’s lower than some crossovers present. When you plan to have the third row up on a regular basis, that received’t go away a ton of room to schlep gear or groceries.
Outdoors, the styling is huge, daring, and rocks loads of chrome accents. All the things from the entrance windshield out is redesigned for 2021, together with the streamlined Nissan v-motion grille and enticing headlights. Beneath, 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels fill their wells properly (and likewise make utilizing the facet steps compulsory). Taller riders will recognize the excessive step-in top. Chrome runs nearly the complete size of the automotive, modernizing the look.
However the rear bumper is a love-hate element. It tasks out, which may get in the best way when you’re loading up gear, nevertheless it additionally serves as a seat when the liftgate is open. After we loaded up our Thule hitch-mounted rack with grownup bikes, the bumper left little area between the automotive and floppy entrance bike tires, although securing the bike tires ought to maintain the paint protected.
Day 2: The Tech
The expertise inside might be the largest leap ahead with the brand new Armada. The middle console is topped with a 12.3-inch-wide show. You’ll be able to sync Apple CarPlay to it wirelessly or use Android Auto by the USB-C port. The graphics on the contact display are sharp and it’s extremely responsive, with nearly no lag. The display is paired with two knobs for quantity and tune that additionally enable you navigate by on-screen menus, and people work effectively, too. For low-speed maneuvering, the touchscreen offers you a 360-degree view across the automotive with graphics which are clear sufficient to maintain you away from gentle poles and different obstacles. Though the display’s dimension sounds spectacular, solely about 3/4 of it’s a touchscreen. The fitting-hand portion is an data show, and that chunk generally exhibits information you could see elsewhere, just like the time.
The HVAC, fortunately, has its personal set of buttons, so making local weather management changes doesn’t require happening a rabbit gap of touchscreen menus. Underneath the display, a wi-fi charging cubby makes a pleasant spot to cover a cellphone whereas driving; it additionally prevents it from sliding to the bottom while you dash from a stoplight.
Nissan’s security suite contains issues like emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring, which was our largest pet peeve. The hitch-mounted rack loaded with bikes interfered with the backup sensor, which then jolted the automotive to a sudden cease when in reverse. The characteristic bought so annoying we ended up turning it off. The instrument cluster has a centered, 7-inch display that does an excellent job of indicating what options are on and helps you zip by menus managed by buttons on the steering wheel. After a few days getting acquainted, we discovered the interface was fairly clean and permits you to deal with many changes—radio quantity, for instance—simply by glancing down on the sprint.
Day 3: The Drive
The each day driving with the Armada is clean, due to the buttery seven-speed computerized transmission, and quiet even at freeway speeds. Whereas it will probably really feel just a little springy and fewer refined in turns, total it drives like a smaller truck regardless of sitting so excessive up. Nissan saved the 5.6-liter V8 engine the Armada’s at all times had as the one engine possibility. The powerplant cranks out 400 horsepower with 413 lb-ft of torque with a max towing capability of 8,500 kilos. Between metropolis and freeway, the Armada got here in at about 15 mpg, which isn’t nice—one thing your pockets would love you to think about earlier than shopping for. A hitch is commonplace and built-in trailer sway management is constructed into many of the trim ranges. In a means, Nissan’s telling you this SUV is for towing: boats, Jet Skis, trailers, and so on. The selectable four-wheel drive on our tester is offered as an possibility.
Backside line: The Armada begins at about $50,000, with our four-wheel driver tester coming in at over $63,000. It faces stiff competitors from different people-hauling, full-size, third-row SUVs which have extra room, just like the Tahoe, Suburban, Expedition, and even some bigger crossovers. However with these different SUVs coming in at six figures when well-appointed, the Armada carves out a distinct segment for itself—and the stout engine could make sense when you want a tow car.
For entry to unique gear movies, superstar interviews, and extra, subscribe on YouTube!