2018 Nissan Armada: Off-road ready, big V-8 power

All 2018 Armadas come with a 5.6-liter V-8 and a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission. The engine delivers 390 horsepower and 394 lb.-ft. of torque. The All-Mode 4-wheel-drive system features Auto/4H/4LO modes, an electronically controlled part-time transfer case and 2.70:1 4LO gear ratio. Under normal driving conditions, the system operates in 2-wheel-drive mode, but it can distribute torque to all four wheels when conditions warrant. Motor Matters photo

By Steve Wheeler
Motor Matters

With the holiday season in full swing, lots of families are hitting the road for that trip to grandma’s house. If you’re driving a 2018 Nissan Armada, you’ll be in a full-size, three-row family hauler with space aplenty, so gather up the kids and tell ’em to each bring a friend.

And since the Armada comes in rear- or four-wheel drive with a big V-8 engine, you could even go over the river and through the woods. The Armada has seating for up to eight, it has off-road capabilities and it can tow more than four tons.

All 2018 Armadas come with a 5.6-liter V-8 and a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission. The engine delivers 390 horsepower and 394 lb.-ft. of torque. The big V-8 has plenty of power, but don’t expect the fuel economy to be Prius-like. You’ll get just 13 miles per gallon in city driving and 18 mpg on the highway in the 4WD Armada. Two-wheel-drive Armadas get one mpg better.

But unlike many newer engines, the Armada’s V-8 doesn’t require premium unleaded gas. And the fuel tank is large at 26 gallons, giving the Armada a highway range of 468 miles.

New features on the 2018 Armada include standard NissanConnect Services, an 8-inch multi-touch display, HD radio, SiriusXM Travel Link, enhanced voice recognition, hands-free text messaging assistant and additional USB ports. There are now five USB ports scattered through the cabin, two of which have connectivity in addition to charging capabilities.

A new Platinum Reserve model is offered for 2018, blurring the lines between the Armada and its luxury cousins in the Infiniti garage. The Platinum Reserve has dark chrome exterior trim, dark chrome 20-inch wheels and two-tone leather seating with contrast stitching.

The Armada comes in four trims — the SV, SL, Platinum and Platinum Reserve, in 2-and 4-wheel-drive configurations. The SV starts at $45,600 and the SL starts at $50,350. The Platinum starts at $58,690 and the Platinum 4WD, which was our test car, starts at $61,590.

Nissan and Infiniti have been innovators in the use of cameras around their vehicles, and Platinum Armada models this year get a standard intelligent rear-view mirror. The new mirror uses a high-resolution camera mounted on the rear of the vehicle. With a button on the mirror, the driver can select the camera view or the traditional view. The benefit is that when the Armada is piled high with people and their stuff, the camera view provides an unobstructed look out of the rear window.

The cabin of the Armada is cavernous, filled with premium amenities like eight-way power front seats that are heated and cooled, a heated steering wheel, available heated second row seats, dual-zone air and standard Bose audio. Even the lower trims are very nicely appointed.

Roomy? Absolutely. Row two has 40 inches of headroom and 41 inches of legroom (captain’s chairs are available.) The third row has a power folding feature, something that’s really handy when loading Christmas gifts into the cargo area.

On the road, the 5,963-pound Armada with 4WD handles well for its size. It’s a big vehicle riding on tall wheels, and there is some lean in corners. But that’s typical for any large SUV, even the more expensive ones. Suffice it to say you can’t drive the Armada like a sports car.

And if you want to take this big SUV off-road, that’s a can-do. The All-Mode 4-wheel-drive system features Auto/4H/4LO modes, an electronically controlled part-time transfer case and 2.70:1 4LO gear ratio. Under normal driving conditions, the system operates in 2-wheel-drive mode, but it can distribute torque to all four wheels when conditions warrant.

When it comes to safety, the Armada has a long list of sophisticated safety technology like intelligent forward collision warning, intelligent cruise control, available automatic emergency braking, lane keeping and blind spot warning systems, and the best surround-view camera system on the market today.