- Tony Swan
The most readily discernible difference between the new Armada and its predecessor is up front, where the grille repeats the new V-motion theme of other Nissan SUVs. Low-beam LED headlights are standard on all models; the side mirrors are equipped with turn signal repeaters; standard wheels are 18 inches, 20 inches on upgrade models; and the rear hatch is power-operated.
Beyond that, the 2017 Armada may seem to bear a strong resemblance to its predecessor, but the skin is all new, as are the dimensions. The wheelbase (121.1 inches) is 2.1 inches shorter than the first generation, but the new Armada is otherwise generally bigger: 1.2 inches longer at 208.9 inches and just over a half-inch wider, albeit 2.0 inches lower from rocker panels to roof. Nissan claims the increased length is 4.9 inches longer than that of its biggest competitor, paying off in a roomy interior.
There’s increased chassis rigidity to go with the increased dimensions. The transition to Patrol foundations includes much heavier frame rails and a 22 percent improvement in structural rigidity, according to Nissan.
Increased dimensions and the robust frame rails add up to a corresponding curb weight increase of about 300 pounds versus corresponding models from the outgoing Armada lineup according to Nissan.
That’s a hefty increase, but it’s offset by an even heftier increase in engine output. Although the displacement of the Armada’s V8 is familiar at 5.6 liters, the engine has been extensively re-engineered, including Nissan’s latest variable valve lift and timing system, a higher (11.2:1) compression ratio, and the addition of direct fuel injection. The net is 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, up from 317 and 385, respectively, on Regular gasoline.
The updated engine is paired with a new 7-speed automatic transmission, and as before four-wheel drive is an option with all trim levels.
Fuel economy, never a strong suit of these big utilities, is EPA rated 14/19 mpg City/Highway for the rear-drive Armada, 13/18 mpg with four-wheel drive.
On the plus side, there’s an increase in towing capacity, to 8500 pounds, to go with the more potent engine and new transmission. A class IV trailer hitch is standard.