The Nissan Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine that makes 317 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque via the use of continuous variable valve timing. It comes mated to a 5-speed automatic with tow/haul mode. All three trim levels are available as rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. In some areas of the country, the Armada is available as a Flex-Fuel vehicle capable of utilizing an ethanol blend.
Despite its size and massive engine, the Armada is surprisingly responsive. It incorporates anti-lock brakes, active brake limited slip, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. It also has independent double wishbone suspension front and rear, with the rear being auto-leveling.
The Armada comes with standard automatic headlights, heated power outside mirrors and rear sonar for assistance while backing up. The differences between the three Armada styles start with the exterior. The SV sits on 18-inch wheels and a body-color grille, while the SL and Platinum get 20-inch rims and a chrome grille.
As for the interior, it comes with dual-zone temperature control, rear air conditioning with rear controls, cruise control, 8-way driver's seat and speed-sensitive windshield wipers. The SL and Platinum trims add standard keyless ignition, Bluetooth, a 4-way passenger seat, power 60/40 third-row seat, leather seats and wood trim. Exclusive to the Platinum level is the Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System with XM NavTraffic, heated front seats with memory and heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Seating eight people means there are rear-seat passengers who need entertainment, so the Armada has a standard 6-CD system with MP3 playback, auxiliary jack and rear audio controls with wireless headphone capability and headphone jacks. The stereo can be upgraded in the SL and Platinum Armadas to a 12-speaker Bose system, while a 9.3GB Music Box hard drive and card reader are standard equipment at the Platinum level.
The Nissan Armada currently in showrooms debuted in 2016 and while Nissan doesn't like to admit it, its three-row SUV was already a few years old at that point, being based on the company's existing overseas-market Patrol. That left the big bruiser feeling a little behind the times, especially in terms of cabin tech. Now, for the 2021 model year, a substantial refresh has brought this big boy into the modern era without messing with the base formula that made it popular in the first place.
The Nissan Armada has always been large enough for its shadow to have a shadow and that doesn't change for 2021. However, some of the model's stodgier elements have finally been cast aside and what a difference that makes. The front end now looks positively futuristic, thanks to a sharp set of headlights with a new daytime-running-light pattern, which flank a larger (but appropriately sized) version of Nissan's "V-Motion" grille. The front bumper also conveys more ruggedness than before thanks to the revised lower trim, which nearly touches the bottom of the grille.
My SL tester also packs Nissan's Midnight Edition package, which further enhances the design's visual aggression by ditching exterior chrome trim in favor of gloss-black elements, from the bumpers to the windows and all the way back to the taillights. The rear end has been gussied up, too, thanks to a new set of taillights and revisions to the rear bumper, but the changes out back are pretty mild compared to the front. Nevertheless, the whole shebang looks a lot fresher.
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