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The landscape of large body-on-frame SUVs has only a handful of players that vie for being the king of the hill and are now facing an uphill battle with gas prices being the highest in history. However, the steady hands of large SUVs still have a place in the American lifestyle and vehicles like the refreshed-for-2021 Nissan Armada continue to win over buyers thanks to its lower price of admission compared to the competition.
The 2022 Nissan Armada is unchanged for the model year proudly sporting its few essential updates from the 2021 model where it received some updated front and rear-end styling along with a welcomed 12.3-inch standard infotainment touchscreen.
Apart from the subtle updates, the Armada remains to be a good value for a large body-on-frame SUV with decent power from its aged but powerful 5.6-liter V8 engine producing 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. The gas-gulping V8 continues to be mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission and the Armada can be had in the standard two-wheel-drive setup or an all-wheel-drive configuration that permits power to be automatically directed up front when additional traction is needed in addition to selecting a four-high or four-low drive setting via a 2-speed transfer case.
The surefootedness of the Nissan Armada is much of what I remember in the many previous test drives of the vehicle, including its similar but more upscale Infiniti QX80 cousin. The Armada feels huge and mostly drives huge, which can be a good and bad thing at the same time. There’s a lot of weight that’s felt in driving the Armada, but it surprisingly responds well to inputs if you ever dare start to push the Armada a little hard on the road. I would never go as far as to force the large 22-inch tires to start screaming as the Armada doesn’t inspire much lateral confidence but feels nicely planted with a smooth, well-dampened quality out on the highway.
On the open road, the Armada tends to waver a bit requiring your utmost attention to keep it in a straight line but nothing as bad as what you get when driving something like a Jeep Wrangler. There’s not much body jiggle to contend with, and the Armada has adequate power, enough to hit 60 mph in about 6.3 seconds, which is good for such a mammoth proportioned vehicle that tips the scale at 5,792 pounds. Fundamentally, there’s no getting around to the Amarda feeling big and driving big despite the healthy power.
Speaking of pounds, the Armada prides itself on being able to tow up to 8,500 pounds. The proven drivetrain of the Armada is also a welcomed trait for reliability but tends to keep such a vehicle from being as advanced as some of its competition.
There’s also the fact of the Armada having a thirst for fuel where it continues to get poor ratings with the EPA estimates of 13 mpg city, 18 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined for my loaded-up all-wheel-drive Platinum test vehicle. If you opt for a two-wheel-drive (rear-wheel-drive) model, which can be had in any of the five trim levels, fuel mileage gets better by about 1 mpg – but don’t expect to hit those numbers often in the real world.
Inside of the Nissan Armada is a familiar cabin that’s only been updated with the center stack now having a welcomed 12.3-inch touchscreen that is the only screen for the infotainment system and a variety of vehicle controls and settings. The updated system has some minor faults with the response of inputs where it may take a second or two to register. Overall, the system is a nice change from the previous two-screen setup and is mounted in the proper position for easy reach and to lessen distractions from the road. There’s wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, which can also be paired through USB. There’s a neat wireless smartphone charging pad tray with its own cubby door.
The cabin feels very premium and has nearly the feel of the luxurious QX80 with it only being a few minor differences, which often has buyers on a fence in choosing either the Armada or Infiniti QX80. Many will notice that the only major difference between the two is the suspension setup where the QX80 has the availability of a hydraulic body motion control system for better stability and ride quality, and the added plushness of the interior in the QX80 fits the proper luxury mold. The quilted leather seats of the Armada are a nice upscale addition to the latest Armada where you have heating and ventilation up front and heated second-row outboard seats, another reason the choice between the Armada and QX80 is so difficult.
The seating space of the Armada is plentiful, but the driver’s seat doesn’t have as much travel as I would have hoped, which has been my primary complaint of the Armada and QX80 over the many years of this current generation. The benefit of the Armada is the seating for eight having a second-row bench seat. Getting into the third row remains to be an act of the second-row seats tumbling forward making way for a usable area for three passengers with decent headroom. The cargo space behind the third row is smaller than many competitors but folding down the 60/40 split seat backs opens the area nicely using the power-fold buttons.
When the third row is up in place with the large headrests extended the rear view gets blocked. However, thanks to the Intelligent Rear View Mirror that gives you a live camera video feed of the rear, the view is no longer impeded.
The Nissan Armada has all the expected active safety features except for having an advanced lane-keeping system. Instead, it has a rather annoying lane intervention system that vibrates the wheel at the same time as braking a side set of wheels to nudge the vehicle back into the lane. Otherwise, all the safety features including the adaptive cruise control are welcomed features that are included in all trim levels as standard equipment. The only safety feature added when you move up to the SV trim is the 360-degree surround-view camera system.
The Nissan Armada has always been a good value and the latest 2022 model year continues such a tradition with a starting price of $49,500 for the base 2WD Armada S. Moving all the way up through the give trim levels to the top Platinum trim with the addition of a few available options and the intelligent all-wheel-drive system you will be looking at the as-tested price of $71,275, which includes a $1,495 destination charge.
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