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Entry price: $46,090

Price as tested: $66,195

Likes: Entry price, V8 power, quiet interior, fits all needs.

Dislikes: Fuel mileage, it’s really BIG when parking, not as agile as smaller SUVs.

This week, we’re driving one of the biggest SUV’s on the road, the 2018 Nissan Armada 4WD. Although the entry Armada starts at $46,090 in 2WD trim, which is the recommended start point for prospective consumers, the top line Platinum 4WD, our tester for the week, starts at $61,500 and is near fully loaded.

With similarities to sibling luxury SUV Infiniti QX80 4WD, which we tested last year, this year’s Armada still shares several of the big Infiniti components, including an upgraded 7-speed automatic transmission with downshift rev match and a new chassis. The two-inch shorter chassis is the global “Patrol” unit that features a fully independent suspension for enhanced comfort while still delivering the needed strength that body-on-frame builds demand. Gone is the older rough riding Titan truck chassis, which previously served as Armada underpinnings.   

With a final assembly point in Los Angeles, Armada for 2018 is powered by powerful and fuel thirsty Endurance V8. However, to be fair, when you shop the full-size to gigantic SUV class where towing, passenger and cargo abilities are priorities, there aren’t any gas powered vehicles out there that deliver excellent fuel mileage. Thus, all manufacturers of the big SUVs struggle in the MPG area as moving three-tons with authority takes plenty of V8 power.         

Under the hood sits the above mentioned Endurance 5.6-liter V8 that delivers 390-horses and best-in-class towing of 8,500 pounds for both the 4WD and rear 2WD models. So, with 394 lb. ft. of torque available, serious towing or transporting up to 8-passengers in comfort is a breeze. Armada delivers 13 city and 18 highway in 4WD dress and 14 and 19, respectively, for the 2WD Armada.  

For 2018, Armada adds standard Nissan Connect services with SiriusXM, 8-inch multi-touch display, Bose 13-speaker setup, HD radio, SiriusXM travel link with three years free service, voice recognition, hands-free text, and five USB ports. Notable is all Armada Platinum and Platinum Reserve models now feature a flip-of-the-switch intelligent rear view mirror that delivers high resolution images on the LCD monitor built into the rear view mirror. Additionally, a movie or video game in just seconds away as a dual 8-inch monitor entertainment system is standard and includes a DVD player with remote control, two wireless headphones and that fifth USB/HDMI input.

Our tester was a Platinum Reserve model as this sole option costs an additional $3,000 and adds Bridgestone 20-inch tires on dark chrome wheels, dark chrome grille, dark chrome door handles, and matching outside mirrors. Further, a two-tone leather interior with unique stitching and Platinum Reserve logos is standard, as are black quartz highlights and special wood trim that makes spending time in the interior a most luxurious experience. A Platinum Reserve exterior badge on the rear deck lid lets everyone know the interior is super-duper.   

If you’re thinking “big” SUV, ala Chevy Suburban, GMC Denali, Ford Expedition, Cadillac Escalade or Toyota Sequoia, you owe yourself a test drive in an Armada. 

With leftover deals coming into play as the summer moves on, Armada is a great buy for those who need comfort, towing, passenger room, safety and cargo space.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media.


Auto Bits

Tips for towing trailers, boats and campers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 20,000
people require medical attention every year because of crashes involving trailers
towed by passenger vehicles. These recreational outings don’t need to go sideways - nor does whatever you may be towing. Here’s a safety checklist to ensure you are towing trailers, boats and campers the right way:

Feel the (tire) pressure: An often-forgotten element on the trailer towing checklist is making sure the trailer’s tire pressure is at the right level. In addition, inspect tires for wear or trauma — and be sure to have a spare.

Get hitched: A starting point to towing is knowing the pulling capacity of your vehicle, as too much weight can cause a load of problems, no matter how much power your engine has.

On the towing vehicle, avoid using a ball mount and hitch that is rusted, cracked, corroded or poorly designed — anything that can compromise its integrity. A safe answer is applying a new hitch, like the Ultra-Tow Complete Tow Kit from Northern Tool + Equipment, which is a durable and easy solution to pull whatever you’re towing.

Bottom line: Always reference the “coupling to tow vehicle” section of your vehicle manual to make sure it is done right.



Did you know

In 2017, there were 42 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles; a 63 percent increase from 2015.