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2017 Nissan Armada Overview
Calling to mind Nissan’s most popular models, like the Altima, Rogue, Sentra, Pathfinder, and Versa, the fact that the Japanese automaker offers larger consumer vehicles does not always seem all that obvious. And yet those vehicles are there. The Nissan Titan full-size pickup truck is one of only two non-American models to compete with the likes of the Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado (the other being the Toyota Tundra), and you’ll find the Armada, the largest and most powerful vehicle Nissan makes, sitting squarely at the top of the automaker’s SUV lineup. Now entering its second generation, the fully redesigned 2017 Armada concludes Nissan’s recent overhaul of its SUV/crossover model range, which also includes the Pathfinder, Murano, and Rogue.
The Armada is a body-on-frame SUV, meaning the body is built atop a separate frame; most popular models (including crossovers) now use single-piece unibody construction, with body-on-frame construction pretty much relegated to pickups and large SUVs. This makes sense, as body-on-frame construction is advantageous only if you plan to haul or tow heavy loads or take the vehicle off-road. Otherwise, body-on-frame vehicles tend to be heavier and less agile than unibody models. The first-generation Armada was built atop the Titan’s platform, but the second generation will employ the same platform as the Nissan Patrol, a global model that has been around since 1951, is known for its off-road capabilities, and competes with the Toyota Land Cruiser. Nissan claims enhancements to the new Armada’s frame design will mean a 20% improvement in torsional stiffness, which should help with some of the handling and ride-comfort issues typical of a body-on-frame design.
The 2017 Armada’s grille features Nissan’s modern “V-motion” styling, and the rear-door handles, formerly (and oddly) located high on the side of the doors, are now found in a more normal location below the windows and flush with the front-door handles. Added chrome modernizes the overall exterior design, and the Armada now frankly looks a little less, well, cheap. The SUV’s trim lineup remains the same: SV, SL, and Platinum.
The full scale of the 2017 Armada’s redesign becomes even more apparent if you look under the hood. There (for all trims) you’ll find a 5.6-liter V8 that produces 390 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, significant increases from the V8 previously used. The old 5-speed automatic is replaced by a 7-speed auto with Adaptive Shift Control, which monitors steering and acceleration in order to provide better feedback. Both rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and 4-wheel-drive (4WD) configurations are available for each trim. Fuel-economy numbers are not yet available; the 2015 model got 13 mpg city/19 highway/15 combined with RWD and 12/18/14 with 4WD, so although Nissan does claim certain fuel-efficiency enhancements on the new model, mileage isn’t likely to be all that great. Maximum towing capacity when properly equipped is 8,500 pounds.
The Armada’s interior seats 8 passengers. Both the second- and third-row bench seats split 60/40 and fold down for additional cargo capacity, and the Platinum trim allows you to replace the second-row bench with two captain’s chairs. Added glass and sound-absorption materials ensure a quieter ride, and a standard Bose 13-speaker audio system with satellite radio and navigation helps you take advantage of that interior calm. Other features include push-button start and a rear-view monitor, while options include a DVD entertainment system and a moonroof (which comes standard on the Platinum).
The 2017 Armada’s suite of available safety features is impressive. The optional Technology Package includes cruise control, distance control, forward emergency braking, forward-collision warning, blind-spot warning and intervention, and backup collision intervention, which together basically constitute a who’s-who list of modern safety systems. There’s also a full complement of airbags, including front airbags, roof-mounted curtain airbags, side airbags, and front-seat active head restraints. The 2015 Nissan Armada earned 3 out of 5 stars on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's rollover tests and hasn’t been rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which isn’t unusual for larger vehicles. Large vehicles’ sizes, however, do tend to offer additional protection in the event of a collision or crash.
The new 2017 Nissan Armada is scheduled to arrive on dealer lots in summer 2016. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced and probably won’t be until closer to the model’s arrival, but judging by the 2015 model, expect prices to range from just under $40,000 for an entry-level SV to well over $50,000 for a fully equipped Platinum.
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