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A Look at the 2021 Nissan Armada

Stephen Rivers

It’s rare that we review a car that feels like two different vehicles put together, but the 2021 Nissan Armada seems to change depending on where you sit.

A Tale Of Two Armadas

2021 Nissan Armada - usa.nissannews.com

2021 Nissan Armada – usa.nissannews.com  |  Shop new Nissan Armada on Carsforsale.com

Nissan is entering a new era of development with all new products like the Frontier, Pathfinder, and Z Proto. Not left behind is the Armada, which gets some significant styling updates as part of a mid-cycle refresh for 2021. To that end, the front and rear of the Armada have been reshaped to better fit into the family design ethos for 2021. Under the hood, the 5.7L V8 makes a bit more power and inside the cabin, things are spruced up as well. The question is though, can Nissan continue to battle it out with the big guns from Ford and GM, or is the Armada going to need a complete overhaul sooner than later. We found that in 2021, the Armada seems to have split personalities.

Specs – Plenty of Power With Sad Fuel Efficiency

2021 Nissan Armada - usa.nissannews.com
2021 Nissan Armada - usa.nissannews.com

There are many SUVs on the market today that are seriously underpowered compared to their competition. Most don’t have any available powertrain to combat that weakness. The Armada is not such an SUV. Powering every Armada in 2021 will be the same 5.7L V8 from last year, but horsepower has been bumped to 400 while torque grows to 413 lb-ft when fed 93 octane fuel.

2021 Nissan Armada - usa.nissannews.com
2021 Nissan Armada - usa.nissannews.com

Routing the power to the wheels is the job of the same 7-speed transmission from last year as well and we’re glad to hear it. Nissan seemed to be drunk on the thought of adding a CVT to all their vehicles for some time, but this 7-speed auto is considerably better in every way. Sadly, despite a lot of cogs, the Armada can’t seem to achieve competitive MPG figures.

All Armada’s can be equipped with 4-wheel-drive and in that configuration MPG figures are 13 in the city, 18 on the highway, and a lowly 15 combined. Pushing power just to the rear wheels adds a single mile per gallon across the board. Regardless, that’s a pretty low score for a vehicle in this class, and even more so when you realize that major rivals like Ford and Chevy manage better scores with larger vehicles.

Driving Performance – Better On the Straights

2021 Nissan Armada - usa.nissannews.com
2021 Nissan Armada - usa.nissannews.com

If we had to relate the Armada to a classic vehicle, it could easily be compared to a muscle car. This thing is great in a straight line. It’s not fast by modern standards, but it’s quicker than most of the competition and its brakes provide confidence-inspiring stopping power when needed. Also much like a muscle car of the 60s, it doesn’t really excel when the road is no longer arrow straight.

It’s impossible to cheat physics of course. The problem is, the Armada isn’t imbued with the ultra-fancy, ultra-expensive tech that allows similarly weighted vehicles like the Porsche Cayenne and Audi RS Q8 to manage turns as though they weigh barely more than a go-kart. No, instead the Armada not only rolls quite significantly, but the steering wheel itself feels almost disconnected at moments.

Nevertheless, most aren’t going to buy the Armada with the intention of lapping Daytona on the weekend, so for regularly scheduled routines like highway passing or on and off-ramp performance, it’s outstanding. The power also allows the Armada to tow 8,500 lbs which is fantastic. That’s one area where the body-on-frame truck DNA of the SUV shines through in a great way.

Interior & Comfort – Nice Tech With Cramped Seating

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The vast majority of you reading this are doing so because you’re thinking of buying and subsequently driving the Armada. For you, the Armada will be a luxurious and pleasurable place to be. The 7-inch gauge cluster is well done. It’s bright, configurable, and responsive. The new center stack infotainment system features a 12.3-inch touchscreen (we’ll get into more shortly) and it’s the best we’ve ever seen in the Armada hands down. If you’re considering buying this to shuttle full-sized adults around though, read on, because the rest of this SUV feels different.

2021 Nissan Armada interior - usa.nissannews.com

Everything behind the front row feels a bit cramped. I’m a tall guy so that feels like a constant, but the latest crop of 3-row SUVs has done a great job of making the middle-row comfortable for folks over 6’5. The Armada isn’t as long as others in the segment, so it has to achieve similar results with less real estate. To accomplish this, the seats are somewhat more condensed in both the second and third rows. Truthfully, if you’re primary use of the Armada will be ferrying young ones around then it’s a perfectly livable solution in our eyes.

2021 Nissan Armada interior - usa.nissannews.com
2021 Nissan Armada interior - usa.nissannews.com

Cargo space behind the third row suffers as well, with only 16.5 cubic feet of space. Of course, once the two rows are lowered you’ll have a gargantuan 95.4 cubic feet, so it’s another example of how this large SUV seems to have two different faces at times.

Trims and Features – You Don’t Need to Go All Out

S – $48,500

While no details have been made available to the public about this new base model, we expect it to lose many of the more luxury features found in the SV. Think wireless charging, leather heated power seats up front, and perhaps 18-inch wheels. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are likely to be standard across the entire range as will the well thought out 12.3-inch center touchscreen.

SV – $52,500

2021 Nissan Armada SV - carsforsale.com
2021 Nissan Armada SV - carsforsale.com

The SV model for 2021 looks in every way identical to the outgoing model in terms of features. Front seats are heated and power-adjustable, the standard 18-inch wheels look handsome, and many features become optional. They include a power remote trunk release, universal garage door opener, and fog lamps as well.

SL – $55,900

2021 Nissan Armada SL - carsforsale.com
2021 Nissan Armada SL - carsforsale.com

Adding all the available features from the SV, the SL also gets remote engine start, a sunroof, a 13-speaker premium Bose Audio system, and optional extras like quilted leather seating, second-row captain’s chairs, and 20-inch wheels.

Platinum – $64,900

2021 Nissan Armada Platinum - carsforsale.com
2021 Nissan Armada Platinum - carsforsale.com

At nearly $10,000 more than the SL, the Platinum might find a hard time finding an audience. For those who splash the cash though, they’ll get all the goodies from the SL with a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats.

Conclusions – A Two Faced SUV Design

2021 Nissan Armada - usa.nissannews.com
2021 Nissan Armada - usa.nissannews.com

As Nissan continues to push its brand forward, the Armada seems to be torn between two different times. It’s almost as though as you move from the front half of the vehicle to the rear you go back in time a bit. This isn’t the right vehicle for shuttling workmates to a weekend team-building excursion. At the same time, for those with young families, the Armada might be the perfect candidate since it offers excellent towing, great comfort up front, and adequate cargo space when the occasion calls for it.

2021 Nissan Armada - usa.nissannews.com

2021 Nissan Armada – usa.nissannews.com  |  Shop new Nissan Armada on Carsforsale.com

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Stephen Rivers
Stephen Rivers

Stephen is a car enthusiast who loves all things built with passion. In his free time, he’s usually at a hockey rink, walking his dogs, or on a road bike. His automotive tastes lean towards cars that oftentimes seem to take a pound of flesh for the ethereal pleasure they provide: things like the Lamborghini Diablo, TVR Cerbera, and a C4 Corvette turned into a street-legal go-kart. He drives his Bugeye Subaru WRX in Autocross, Rallycross, and track day competitions throughout the year and daily drives a twin-turbo BMW 535i.

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