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2009 Nissan Armada ReviewThe Good
Built like a tank, and with a powerplant to match, the 2009 Nissan Armada also comes loaded with creature comforts and looks sharp, on-road or off.The Bad
Horrible gas mileage, a cramped third-row seat, and a lack of refinement, not to mention engine choices, may make the ’09 Armada a second or third choice for buyers.
The CarGurus View
There’s no question that the 2009 Nissan Armada is built to take on some heavy-duty hauling, towing, and off-roading. It’s also feature-laden and priced right. However, poor gas mileage, a distinct lack of posh, and a declining market are fueling rumors of change on the Armada’s horizon.
At a Glance
The 2009 Nissan Armada ventures forth undaunted by the stormy future for large, truck-like SUVs. This big Sport Ute is well equipped to handle the journey, however. With a beefy, Titan-inspired, body-on-frame construction that’s ideal for off-roading and a big V8 that’ll tow over 9,000 pounds, the ’09 Armada is a formidable, yet reasonably affordable presence in this shrinking market.
The ’09 Armada is a five-door, eight-passenger, full-size SUV that’s available in two trims, SE and the high-end LE. Each trim level is available with either rear-wheel drive (RWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD), and each offers standard third-row seating as well as the standard 5.6-liter V8 engine, which is available with Flex Fuel, E85-ethanol-capability; with or without the Flex Fuel system, the 5.6-liter V8 offers equal performance and mileage specifications.
After some extensive modifications in ’08 that included a more comfortable cabin, some better-quality cabin materials, and upgraded interior ergonomics, the Armada offers only a few feature upgrades for 2009. Available heated front seats, Bluetooth hands-free technology, and standard power-folding/auto-dimming exterior mirrors on the LE are pretty much the extent of the Armada’s changes this year.
A roomy SUV, the ’09 Armada offers some 91 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down and some 20 cubic feet with all seats upright.
The only engine and transmission offered with the 2009 Nissan Armada is a 5.6-liter, DOHC, variable-valve-timing V8 that’s mated with a five-speed automatic. This combination puts out 317 hp at 5,200 rpm and 385 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm. The big V8 uses regular gas, but is available in a Flex Fuel version in some areas.
The five-speed automatic is equipped with a tow/haul mode, which allows the ‘09 Armada to climb any mountain and haul (almost) any trailer – when properly equipped.
Professional reviewers are impressed with the ’09 Armada’s acceleration and its heavy-duty towing power. The transmission shifts rapidly and smoothly, no matter the load or the strain. Opinion among reviewers is divided, however, as to whether the V8 is “throaty” or just plain loud during rapid acceleration.
Ride & Handling
The ’09 Armada comes equipped with a double-wishbone four-wheel independent suspension, with front and rear stabilizer bars. The top-end LE trim features a standard self-leveling suspension, while a load-leveling rear suspension system is offered as an option with the tow packages available for both the SE and LE trims. Armada’s 4WD trims offer on-demand shifting, a center-locking limited-slip differential, and auto-locking hubs.
The 2009 Armada SE trim rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels mounting all-season radials, while the LE boasts 20-inch alloys and all-season radials. The Armada is brought to a halt with four-wheel ventilated disc brakes.
Reviewers are very impressed with the way the ’09 Armada rides and handles, noting that, though a tad stiff, the Armada’s suspension does a good job of handling the roads around town. A bit of bounce and jounce is noted, however, at highway speeds on patchy pavement. Corners are handled nicely by the Armada, with little appreciable lean or noseplow.
Steering is noted as adequate, but a bit slow reacting to the wheel. Braking is described by reviewers as good, though a few professional reviewers find a tad too much play in the pedal.
Cabin & Comfort
Generally reviewers find the amenities that are offered as standard on the 2009 Nissan Armada to be generous and well presented. Though not plush, by any means, the Armada provides comfort, convenience, and appearance features aplenty. Gauges and controls are, by and large, easy to read and well located, an exception being the climate control dials, which are not easily discernable in sunlight and could be a stretch for drivers to reach.
Standard amenities and appearance features for the ’09 Armada SE include a tachometer, compass, and external temperature display, a roof rack, privacy glass, cloth front bucket seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, third-row seating, a fold-flat front passenger seat, reclining rear seats, remote power door locks, one-touch power windows, heated power mirrors, cruise control, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, height-adjustable pedals, steering-wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls, front and overhead storage consoles, remote window operation, dual-zone front climate controls with rear air-conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, running boards, and a 6-CD changer with eight speakers and rear volume control.
Options for the SE include many of the LE’s standard amenities, including a 265-watt Bose Premium Audio system with 12 speakers and a subwoofer, Sirius/XM satellite radio, the HomeLink universal transceiver, and leather upholstery. Additionally, a power sunroof, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a Class IV towing package, and front side-mounted airbags also are available.
The ’09 Armada LE trim adds such standard features as a trailer hitch, six-way power-adjustable passenger seat, leather seating, keyless ignition, a rear backup camera system, leather door trim with simulated wood trim on the front console, the Bose Premium Audio system with 6-CD changer and 12 speakers, Sirius/XM satellite radio, and Bluetooth hands-free communication technology. Options include satellite radio with a NavTraffic voice-activated navigation system, a heated steering wheel, and second-row captain’s chairs.
Standard safety features for the 2009 Nissan Armada include four-wheel disc ABS, with emergency braking assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, stability control, rear parking sensors, with the standard rear backup camera system in the LE, the Advanced Airbag System, with dual-stage front airbags, seatbelt sensors, and passenger de-activation sensors, supplemental side curtain airbags, the passenger head-restraint whiplash protection system, child seat anchors, rear child-safety door locks, side-intrusion door beams, a remote anti-theft alarm, and the Vehicle Security system.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) give the ’09 Armada five stars for front impact driver safety, four stars for front passenger safety and a three-star rollover rating. The '09 Armada has not been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) yet.
What Owners Think
For 2009, the Nissan Armada gained mostly praise from owners, but its gas mileage did not. Though most owners were resigned to the Armada’s appetite for fuel, given its size and capabilities, virtually all felt Nissan could do better. In addition, airbag lights that won’t shut off, the lack of plush cabin features, and no standard power-retractable mirrors are disappointing to a few owners. In isolated instances, owners complain of transmission problems, odors from the air-conditioning system, and a seeming lack of build quality.
An overwhelming majority of owners, though, laud the ’09 Armada for its low price and its undeniable value. As well, ride quality, seat comfort, roominess, styling, both exterior and interior, towing capacity, plentiful cabin amenities, engine performance and acceleration, Nissan reliability, and that killer Bose audio system, were all given kudos by owners.
Have Laptop, Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.