A Big, Powerful, Pricey SUV

February 23, 2019

The Nissan Armada full-size sport utility, now in its second generation, returns for 2019 with a few updates, including new standard safety technology. Now included on all trim levels are rear door alert, intelligent cruise control, automatic emergency braking and intelligent forward collision warning. There are four trim levels for 2019: SV (base price $46,790 plus $1,395 freight), SL ($51,590), Platinum ($59,690) and Platinum Reserve ($62,690), a new top-of-the-line model added last year. All of these come with rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive can be added to any trim level for an additional $3,000. Also for 2019, the Armada comes with NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM, including an eight-inch multitouch display, HD Radio, SiriusXM Travel Link with three years of service (SiriusXM subscription sold separately), enhanced voice recognition, hands-free text messaging assistant and additional USB ports for all models. Extras on the Platinum Reserve include dark chrome on the grille, door handles and outside mirrors; special 20-inch dark chrome wheels; two-tone leather seats with unique stitching; black quartz and premium wood-tone interior trim; and an embossed “Platinum Reserve” emblem on the lid of the center console. The Platinum and Platinum Reserve models come with the Intelligent Rear-View Mirror, which uses a high-resolution camera at the rear exterior to transmit a rear-facing image onto a monitor built into the center rearview mirror. But there is a switch at the bottom of the mirror that lets the driver change between camera and standard mirror views. This camera system eliminates blind spots in the rearview mirror image caused by such interior elements as headrests, body panels and large cargo items. Armada’s second generation is based on the architecture of the similar Infiniti QX80 luxury SUV. The original Armada was introduced in 2004 as the Pathfinder Armada, and was built on the same chassis as the Nissan Titan pickup. It was assembled at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi. Now, the Armada comes from the same plant in Kyushu, Japan, that has been assembling the QX80 since it moved into its second generation for 2011. Ever since the midsize, seven-passenger Nissan Pathfinder was shifted to a car-based crossover format five years ago, the Armada is the only three-row, truck-based SUV left in the Nissan lineup. Inside, there is seating for up to eight people, and it still has a conventional body-on-frame design rather than the unibody construction of a crossover. It’s 1.2 inches longer overall than the first-generation Armada, but has a 2.1-inch shorter wheelbase. It’s 0.6 inches wider and 2.2 inches lower. The Armada can be configured for seven passengers by replacing the standard three-person second-row bench seat with two captain’s chairs ($450 extra). That lowers the capacity to two in front, two in the middle and three in the rear. We tested the 2019 Armada SV with all-wheel drive and the standard eight-passenger arrangement (base price $49,790). We didn’t need the third row during our week with the Armada, but it can easily accommodate big kids or average-size adults. For some trips, we did have two adult passengers in the middle row, and they found their seats to be quite roomy and comfortable. The Armada is high enough off the ground (9.1-inch ground clearance for the SV, 9.2-inch for the other trims) that it can be a bit difficult to get into from outside, especially for short people. To help, there are steel side step rails with rubber pads on each side. Armada competes in the full-size SUV class along with the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and its siblings, the GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, as well as the Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia.