2010 Nissan ArmadaPosted on November 30th, 2009
Full-sized sport-utility vehicle is ready for adventure
By Nina Russin
The Armada is Nissan’s largest sport-utility vehicle, with seating for seven passengers. As its name suggests, the Armada has the durability to traverse extreme off-road terrain, sharing the same truck platform as the full-sized Nissan Titan.
A two-speed transfer case gives the Armada low gears for maneuverability on uneven trails. Towing capacity for the four-wheel drive version is 9000 pounds.
This year, Nissan dresses up the Armada with two new up-level grades: the Titanium and Platinum editions. I recently had the opportunity to drive the Platinum 4, priced from $52,190. Standard comfort and convenience features include keyless ignition, leather seating, navigation, a rearview camera, heated seats and steering wheel, a DVD entertainment system and a 9.3 gigabyte music box hard drive.
Despite its size, the Armada is almost as easy to drive as a passenger car. The standard 5.6-liter V8 engine produces 385 foot-pounds of torque. Peak torque comes on at 3400 rpm: average engine speed during moderate acceleration.
A five-speed automatic transmission shift smoothly and maintains reasonably good fuel economy, considering the Armada‘s 5841-pound curb weight. I averaged 14.5 miles-per-gallon on my test drive: about half a gallon better than the EPA estimate.
Engineers did a good job of isolating passengers from road and engine noise. Even at highway speeds, there is little wind noise around the front glass or outside mirrors.
A speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system provides more assist at low speeds to maximize the driver’s turning power around crowded parking lots. On-center response on the highway is good enough to safely manage emergency lane changes. The Armada’s 40.8-foot turning radius is sufficient to handle U-turns on wide roads.
The double wishbone independent suspension has the advantage of being compact, so it doesn‘t impinge on the passenger cabin. An auto-leveling feature enhances traction while towing. Front and rear stabilizer bars keep the chassis stable in the corners.
Twenty-inch chrome wheels on the test car dress up the exterior, and give the Armada a stable footprint. Buyers who plan to do serious off-road driving should consider a second set of rims that won’t show scratches.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock brakes stop the car in a firm, linear fashion.
Visibility to the front and sides is good. Despite their size, the outside mirrors don’t obstruct the driver’s vision. Over-the-shoulder visibility is good, but the vehicle’s high seating position makes it harder to see passenger cars in the adjacent lanes.
With the third-row seats in place, I was able to see clearly out the back window. A standard rear wiper keeps the glass clean in rain and snow.
The rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the truck. I highly recommend the feature to parents of small children, who might inadvertently wander behind the vehicle. Lines superimposed over the image show the driver’s trajectory according to steering inputs, making it easier to back up and park.
Designers added important ergonomic features, including an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat with two-position memory and adjustable pedals.
Inside, the Armada has all of the amenities active families look for. Standard running boards make it easier for smaller passengers to enter the car. Both A and B pillars have grab handles to enhance access and egress.
I found the driver’s seat comfortable for trips several hours in duration. Redundant audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction.
Because of its low floor tunnel, the second-row bench can seat three across. The center console takes up some legroom in the middle position, but adults should be comfortable enough on short trips. A 12-volt power point behind the center console allows rear passengers to recharge their cell phones.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of legroom in the third row. The second-row seats tumble forward to ease access and egress. Theater-style positioning gives riders in back a clear forward view, though it reduces headroom.
All four doors have large map pockets; the front doors also have large bottle holders. All three rows of passengers get overhead reading lamps and cupholders large enough for twenty-ounce water bottles.
The deep center console bin contains the DVD player and headphone jacks. The bin is hinged to the right, giving the driver easier access. Unfortunately, it’s hard for the front passenger to reach inside the bin. From a safety perspective, I’d rather have the front passenger fiddling with the DVD player, rather than the driver.
An open bin in the center console is large enough to hold a small pack. A locking glovebox provides secure storage at the trailhead.
The driver shifts between two- and four-wheel drive using a rotary dial on the center stack. A button disables the standard vehicle dynamic control, for better handling on extreme off-road trails.
Two 12-volt power points at the base of the center stack recharge portable electronic devices. A mouse-type device operates the navigation screen, eliminating unnecessary buttons. Nissan’s navigation graphics are easy to read. A split screen displays the map on one side with direction details on the other.
An information page includes real-time and average fuel economy, traffic alerts, maintenance updates, GPS and vehicle location data.
Three analog gauges in the instrument cluster are easy to read in any light. Analog charging and cooling system gauges are useful for drivers who tow large trailers or drive off-road.
Tri-zone temperature controls keep all passengers comfortable in temperature extremes. Ceiling vents over the second and third rows circulate air throughout the cabin. Redundant audio and temperature controls give access to both first and second-row passengers.
Bicycle-friendly cargo area
With the third-row seats in place, the cargo area has enough room for small luggage or groceries. A button to the right of the liftgate folds the third-row seats flat, enabling the Armada to meet our bicycle-friendly standards. There is a 12-volt power point next to the rear seat controls for recharging electronic devices.
The power liftgate is a boon for drivers trying to load large cargo in the back. Smaller drivers may have problems with the Armada’s high lift-over height. Standard roof rails make it easy to install a rack up top.
The Armada comes with standard front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, vehicle stability control, and is pre-wired for a trailer brake controller.
While it’s not a car for everyone, the Armada Platinum edition is a good candidate for large families who want off-road and towing capability, with a high level of standard comfort and convenience features. The Armada is on display at Nissan dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A durable full-sized sport utility vehicle that meets our bicycle-friendly, off-road and towing standards, and offers a high level of comfort and convenience features.
Dislikes: Center console is hinged to the right, making it difficult for the front passenger to reach inside; high lift-over height.
Model: Armada Platinum 4
Base price: $52,190
As tested: $53,190
Horsepower: 317 Hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 385 lbs.-ft. @ 3400 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 12/18 mpg city/highway
Comments: Base price does not include a $780 delivery charge. Floor mats are $220 option.
2 responses to “2010 Nissan Armada”
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