The Nissan Armada Sails on in a Niche Segment

The refreshed Armada makes a bold statement.


2021 Nissan Armada
The 2021 Nissan Armada is refreshed and a relative bargain for its segment.

Sometimes you need a full-size SUV to get it done. In the case of the Nissan Armada, three rows of seating for up to eight individuals is how you get there. But it goes beyond size to please most customers. Specifically, customers what the full package, including comfort, tech and safety features, and excellent towing. Thus, the Armada largely succeeds in all categories.


2021 Nissan Armada Review


The 2021 Nissan Armada is available in S ($48,900), SV ($52,900), SL ($56,300), and Platinum ($65,300) trims. Add $1,495 for the destination and handling charge. Also, you can make an upgrade to four-wheel drive across the trim line for an additional $3,000.

For 2021, the Armada reflects a mid-product-cycle update. This year, the SUV gains a new grille, fresh bumpers, and redesigned headlights and taillights. Inside, Nissan overhauled the center stack, placing a beefy, but thin 12.3-inch touchscreen display on top.

Armada Exterior

No doubt about it: the Nissan Armada is large and imposing. However, unlike other large SUVs from competing manufacturers, it does not share its architecture with a truck version, such as the Nissan Titan.

Instead, the Armada parallels the Infiniti QX80. Both are based on the Nissan Patrol, a Japanese-specific SUV. Notably, the Patrol has admirers that extend far beyond Japan, so not using the Titan isn’t a dealbreaker whatsoever.

The Armada is massive with an expansive grille, broad hood, upright roof pillars, and a high beltline. Indeed, its commanding presence is hard to ignore. This year, the front lighting elements work with a refreshed grille to give this SUV a more modern look. Further, the updated rear taillights along with new front and rear bumpers round out the refreshing.


Nissan Armada profile
Nissan offers four-wheel drive across all trims.

Standard and Available Features

Nissan seems to direct fleet buyers to the base S model and everyone else to the SV trim on up. That seems reasonable given that the look kicks up a notch with the second-level trim. Specifically, the Armada SV comes with LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and dark gray roof rails. Nissan also includes power-heated and folding side mirrors with turn signal indicators, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and a Class IV tow hitch receiver with a 7-pin wiring harness.

Move up through the trim range and Nissan adds several things, beginning with the SL trim. In particular, Nissan includes LED fog lights, 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and body-color side mirrors with puddle lamps. Also, a power-sliding glass moonroof, a power liftgate, and a remote engine start system come in.

At the Platinum level, the Armada gains 22-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, chrome side mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers. Moreover, there is also a special Midnight Edition package that features blacked-out trim. Here, the grille, rear fascia, wheels, roof rails, and special badging are embellished.

Armada Interior

Big is the Armada’s interior, but that applies mostly to the first two rows. On paper, eight can sit inside, but the third row is quite small with just 28.4 inches of legroom. But you get a bit more maneuvering room when you swap out the second-row bench seat for a pair of captain’s chairs. However, that move does not free much space, but access and egress improve.

One area where the Armada excels is in front seat comfort. We say this because there are not that many vehicles that have big individuals in mind. Specifically, if you are around 6-foot, 5-inches, and top 300 pounds (hello NFL linemen!), you know the challenge. Happily, the driver’s seat wins it for its width, plush backing, as well as capable hip and thigh support. Just as the driver benefits here, so does the front passenger.

The Armadas’ cabin is awash in soft-touch materials, high-quality trim, and a design we think rivals some luxury marques. Thus, the differentiation amongst Nissan and Infiniti models is small, but the Armada’s price is much lower. Can you say, “value?”


Nissan Armada quilted leather seats


Creature Features

Where the base model has cloth seats, the SV brings in imitation leather. Furthermore, our test model didn’t come with that (real hides for SL and Platinum), but our experience with Nissan models is that the faux leathers do it right. Other standard features include full power accessories, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, power front seats, and heated front seats. Also, dual-zone climate control, a cargo-area underfloor storage compartment, and eight tie-down hooks are included.

The SL trim brings footwell lights, leather seats and adds leather-padded door trim and wood-tone trim. Also, upgraded quilted leather seats, a heated steering wheel, three-zone climate control, and heated outboard rear seats grace the Platinum model.


Safety Scores and Features


Updated safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrawtion are not yet available. That said, the Armada’s size presents an advantage when in an accident.

Absent the scores, we think the Armada scores high in available equipment. Specifically, the driver-assist tech package includes adaptive cruise control, driver alert, lane intervention, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, high beam assist, and front and rear parking sonars.

Choose the SL trim and Nissan adds a surround-view monitor. Further, back-up intervention and traffic sign recognition come with the Platinum trim. All in all, the Armada delivers the driver-assist features we want. But what is curiously absent is semi-autonomous driving technology. Specifically, the ProPilot Assist features that is found in many Nissan and Infiniti models. We like the system, but the Armada does not offer it.


Nissan Armada quilted leather seats


Technology Features

Shower us with tech and we are happy. Although some features are better than others. The four-speaker audio system with the S trim is surprisingly insufficient. On the other hand, the 6-speaker unit with the SV trim is only fractionally better.

In any case, Nissan supplies such things a Bluetooth, connected services, navigation, satellite radio, HD Radio technology, four USB ports, and a coveted wireless charger pad. The SL does it better with a 13-speaker Bose audio system and a 120-volt power outlet. Finally, make your move to the Platinum trim and a fifth USB port comes in.

Certainly, the Armada pulls in all the features families want. However, we would be remiss if we left out the tri-zone family entertainment system on the Platinum trim. This package includes dual 8-inch monitors, remote control, a pair of wireless headphones, along with USB and HDMI input.

Powertrain and Drivetrain

One tried-and-true engine powers the 2021 Armada and it is a strong one. Under the hood is a 5.6-liter V8 engine with available 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. Certainly, we must say “available” because you reach these numbers only with premium fuel. Otherwise, regular-grade gasoline should do it for most. Thus, by selecting regular gasoline your numbers fall slightly to 390 hp and 394 lb.-ft. of torque. Most importantly, you will save approximately 50 cents per gallon by choosing the “lesser” grade.

Power routes to the rear or all four wheels utilizing a 7-speed automatic transmission. Like the engine, this one carries over. We think Nissan missed an opportunity to introduce its 9-speed automatic here, the same one found with the Titan and Frontier pickup trucks. Nevertheless, the Armada’s transmission comes with adaptive shift control and downshift rev-matching for improved fuel efficiency.

Performance

Slip behind the wheel, buckle up, adjust your mirrors, and push the ignition key. Immediately, the engine roars to life. Here, the operative word is roar – this beefy V8 reminds us of some of Detroit’s best big motors of old.

Engage the transmission and make your way forward – the Armada moves out with confidence. Then, press hard on the gas pedal and the engine responds immediately with its full capacity of power. Even with three tons to move, the Armada moves forward with authority…there is no hesitation whatsoever. Likewise, the transmission responds compliantly as it moves smoothy between the cogs.

We think opting for the four-wheel drive is the right choice, especially if off-roading is ever an option. The only challenge here is that the Armada is big and on some trails, it’s simply too wide. Other than that, the extra grip provided by sending power to all four wheels is useful for towing. And speaking of towing, this SUV has a trailering capacity of up to 8,500 pounds.

Competitive Set

The Nissan Armada operates in a small segment, one that’s dominated by the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition. However, they are not the only models to consider as the GMC Yukon and Toyota Sequoia also operate in this sphere. All models in this segment come with standard rear-wheel drive, available four-wheel drive, and superior towing capabilities.


Nissan Armada quilted leather seats


Our Recommendation


Based on how well equipped this model is, you cannot go wrong with deciding on the SV trim. Indeed, there are enough comfort, tech, and safety features to please a strong cohort of buyers.

Yet, we think most customers in this arena want a bit more. Therefore, we recommend the Armada SL trim with its 13-speaker Bose audio system and leather seats. Further, whatever trim you decide is right for you, the middle captain’s chairs are simply the ideal for this formidable SUV.


2021 Nissan Armada Specifications


Nissan 2021 Armada
Segment Large SUV
Price Range From $48,900 to $68,030
Destination Charge $1,495
Standard Engine 5.6-liter, V8
Horsepower 400 hp @ 5,800 rpm (premium gas)
Torque (lb.-ft.) 413 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm (premium gas)
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Seating 7 or 8
Curb Weight (pounds) 5,666 to 6,037
Wheelbase (inches) 121.1
Length (inches) 208.9
Width (inches) 79.9
Height (inches) 75.8
Headroom (f,r…inches) 40.9, 40.0, 36.4
Legroom (f,r…inches) 41.9, 41.0, 28.4
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 63.8, 63.4, 60.5
Hip room (f,r…inches) 59.2, 58.4, 48.8
Storage (cubic feet) 16.5, 49.9, 95.4
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) 7,300 to 7,500
Towing (pounds) 8,500
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular, or premium for performance
Fuel Tank (gallons) 26.0
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 14/19/16 (2WD); 13/18/15 (4WD)
Manufacturing Plant Kyushu, Japan

See AlsoThe 2021 Nissan Sentra Exudes Its Altima Vibes

Photos copyright Nissan Motors.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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