My 11-year old son and I were heading to Rehoboth, DE for a travel baseball tournament – a 280 mile road trip consisting of highway, country and beach road cruising. When I found out I was going to have the all-new 2017 Nissan Armada Platinum 4WD, I agreed to drive and take another coach and his son with me. I wasn’t sure we would need such a large vehicle for only four people. Both of us coach so we had quite a bit of gear. Since there was just four of us, we left the third row down, loaded the gear, and hit the road. The Platinum Armada has the rear Family Entertainment System which includes two 7” WVGA color displays in the back of the front headrests, wireless headphones and remote control. So after a mandatory stop at the Redbox for a stack of DVD’s, we were on our way to the beach.
Before we get into how well the all-new-for-2017 Nissan Armada handled on this baseball road trip, we have to take a quick look at the history of the Armada. The Nissan Armada first arrived on the scene in 2003, originally known as the Pathfinder Armada, and was built on the body-on-frame Nissan F-Alpha platform shared by Nissan’s hardbody trucks. The Armada came in rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive with a 317 hp V8 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission and a towing capacity of up to 9,000 lbs. In 2004, Nissan rebadged the Armada dropping the Pathfinder name looking to distinguish it from its smaller cousin. In the 2008 model year, the Armada received a light exterior makeover and made some interior improvements. In 2010, Nissan continued to tinker with Armada making some small changes to the front and rear fascias and continued to make only minor changes until 2017.
The all-new 2017 Armada is the first time since its inception in 2003 that it has received a total redesign. Still a body-on-frame construction, the 2017 Armada has new front and rear fascias, hood, grille and fog lights. The headlights, daytime running lights and taillights are LEDs. The side frame rails have been expanded from a 60-millimeter width to 100-milimeter width increasing twisted body stiffness by 20 percent enhancing ride and comfort. The Armada is now 1.2 inches longer and continues to be 4.9 inches longer then its competitors.
The 2017 Armada Platinum is a large SUV, make no mistake. With the third row folded the cargo capacity is a whopping 49.9 cu. ft. (95.4 with both the 2nd and 3rd row folded) and with the third row up it is still a reasonable 16.5 cu. ft. We only had four people so we had the third row down and fit all of our baseball gear with plenty of room to spare. In town, the Armada drives like a big SUV. Of course I’m used to driving the Roadfly Black Bear Jeep which, even with steel bumpers, 12,500-lb winch and 37” tires, it is still probably 1,000 lbs. lighter then the Armada (curb weight of approximately 6,000 lbs.). And of course three and a half feet shorter as well. Nevertheless, after getting used to its larger size, driving it in town wasn’t an issue with plenty of power given its weight and size. And once we got on the road to Rehoboth, I quickly discovered that the Armada is a road trippers dream come true.
Part of the reason the all-new 2017 Armada is such a dream on road trips is that its all new under the hood. The 5.6-liter Endurance V8 engine (shared with the TITAN and TITAN XD truck) is brand new putting out a best in class 390 hp, an increase of 73 horsepower over the previous engine. Nissan matted it to an all-new advanced 7-speed automatic transmission with Adaptive Shift Control and Downshift Rev Matching. The drive to Rehoboth included both highway and rural two-way roads so there was plenty of opportunity to really see the power of the new V8 and the smooth shifting 7-speed transmission. I found the power of the Endurance V8 to be appropriately matched with the vehicle’s size and weight. It was neither over nor under powered. Once I turned on the Intelligent Cruise Control and set my speed, the Armada basically drove itself all the way to the beach.
On the safety and technology front, the all-new Armada comes with Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Assist, Forward Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Prevention and Land Departure Warning, Blind Spot Intervention and Blind Spot Warning, RearView Monitor and Around View Monitor. I’m a huge fan of the new safety technologies found in these new cars and I really enjoy testing them out. With 280 miles of driving there was plenty of opportunity to put these technologies through their paces.
The RearView and Around View monitor are amazing and make parking a large vehicle like the Armada a breeze. The Around View monitor gives you a 360-degree overhead view of the vehicle and allows you to slide it perfectly straight in any parking spot. The Blind Spot Warning works as it should and the Intelligent Cruise Control is one of the best I have tested on the market. If you have tried any of the these systems, Nissan and Infinity have one of the best in the market that I have driven. See my in-depth review of the ICC system on the Infinity QX60.
At $59,990, the 2017 Nissan Armada Platinum 4WD is not an inexpensive vehicle. But when you consider that its 4.9 inches longer then its competitors, puts out best-in-class horsepower, and is absolutely crammed full of new safety technology, its definitely worth serious consideration if you are in the market for a full-sized SUV.