Eric's Autos: Reviewing the 2018 Nissan Armada
Usually, when you pay less, you get less. But the Nissan Armada gives you more for less. This includes the same standard V-8 engine that's under the hood of its luxury-badged and luxury-priced twin, the Infiniti QX80, which also happens to be the strongest standard engine available in this class of vehicle.
Rivals like the Chevy Tahoe are much less powerful unless you pay a lot extra. The Ford Expedition is just more expensive.
Nissan also offers Infiniti-esque luxury amenities in the Armada, including the same dual-LCD rear-seat entertainment system that's available in the QX80, but for about $20,000 less to start.
What It Is
The Armada is the more conservatively styled, Nissan-badged version of the full-sized, eight-passenger Infiniti QX80 SUV.
Most of the differences are with exterior cosmetics.
The base price is $45,600 for the base two-wheel-drive SV trim. A top-of-the-line Platinum trim with four-wheel drive has a sticker of $61,590. (Prices for the 2018 QX80 haven't been released at this writing, but the 2017 QX80 starts at $63,850.)
The 2018 Armada receives an updated app suite (hands-free text messaging assist, enhanced voice recognition) and an updated 8-inch LCD touchscreen.
Platinum and Reserve trims also get a standard Intelligent Rear View Mirror, which pipes a hi-res image of what's behind you through the rearview mirror.
Except for the price, it's basically the same as an Infiniti QX80.
It has a roomier second row than rivals like the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition.
It has the strongest standard engine in its class.
What's Not So Good
It's almost half a foot longer than a Tahoe.
It also has the widest turning circle of the bunch (20.6 feet).
There's not as much cargo room as the Expedition.
Under the Hood
The Armada's standard engine is a 390-horsepower 5.6-liter V-8. Behind the brawny V-8 is a seven-speed automatic with racy rev-matching downshifts similar to what you'd get in Nissan's 370Z sports car. This is an unusual and unusually cool thing to find in a burly SUV.
There are also driver-selectable Snow and Tow transmission modes, which alter shift points to suit those conditions when engaged. The optional All-Mode 4WD system is fully electronic with driver-selectable Auto, 4H and 4LO modes.
The two-speed transfer case has a 2.70-1 ratio when 4LO is engaged.
On the Road
This huge SUV can go from zero to 60 mph in about 6.3 seconds, which is quicker than most cars that weigh half as much.
It's really big, though, as is its turning circle. This makes it a bit more awkward to park, especially given that most parking spots are sized to fit smaller cars.
The Armada also sits 9.1 inches off the ground, higher than others in this class. The Ford Expedition is 8.3 inches high, and surprisingly, the Chevy Tahoe is just 7.9 inches high. There are grab rails built into the A pillars to aid the driver and front-seat passenger with climbing on board.
There are also running boards along the side.
At the Curb
The Armada has a more traditional face than its Infiniti brother, but otherwise the two are nearly identical inside and out.
It has the same wraparound/bathtub dash shape and instruments, with minor differences in backgrounds and fonts. Center stacks, center consoles and controls are identical, including the rotary knob controller behind the shifter for the 4WD system.
You get different leather and wood trim plates in the Armada, but they look as nice as the Q's.
The top-of-the-line Platinum trim includes second-row seat heaters, a heated steering wheel and the same dual-LCD entertainment system with wireless headphones you'd find in the Q.
The Armada's maximum tow rating of 8,500 pounds is a bit lower than the Ford Expedition's (9,200 pounds), but the Ford's base price is higher, and it only comes with a V-6, even if it's a twin-turbo.
Chevy is offering a 6.2-liter V-8 with 420 horsepower as an option in the 2018 Tahoe, but its price will likely be around $60,000 to start.
The Bottom Line
The few things you can't get in the Armada that are available in the QX80 are the Hydraulic Body Motion Control, the automatically adjusting suspension system and 22-inch wheels (the Armada's largest are 20 inches).
But that's a small price to pay for such a big discount!
Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate, Inc.