2008 Nissan Armada Heels on Wheels Review
INTRO ON THE ARMADA
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
The Armada is in the same class as the Toyota Sequoia or the GMC Yukon, but if you're studying from the interior out, consider its most obvious competitor the Ford Expedition. If you want to know the history on this full-size SUV, it was first called the Pathfinder Armada. One year after its 2004 introduction to the vehicle market, the Armada name was sturdyenough to stand on its own.
I tested a 5-speed automatic transmission Nissan Armada equipped with the standard 317-horsepower 5.6-liter Nissan Endurance V8 engine. This is an extremely large engine as far as engines go. Under this V8, the Armada has a huge towing capacity of 9,100 lbs. The total vehicle package is $46,715.
The Armada is perfecting its game. Any major issues with this vehicle were fixed in the beginning years, so new for the 2008 model include mostly luxuries, not serious powertrain (under-the-hood) pluses. New for 2008 are a third-row power folding 60/40 seat, interior colors and fabrics, gated shifter, wood grain accents, heated steering wheel, a lockable glove compartment, and revised steering wheel and combination meter illumination. The Armada keeps up with new car technology too, such as Intelligent Key, Bose® sound system, Bluetooth® Hands-Free Phone System, and the Nissan Navigation system with a XM® NavTraffic™ system. There is also a larger 8.0-inch screen for the optional DVD Entertainment Package.
The Armada LE I drove had a feeling of luxury, without the snobby name and price (the upscale version in the Infiniti QX56). Offered in SE and LE models, with 2-wheel or advanced 4-wheel drive systems, my Armada had the Moonroof Package ($1,000); DVD Entertainment Package ($1,600); the Preferred Technology Package, which includes the Nissan Navigation system with a XM NavTraffic system with real-time traffic information (XM contract required) and Bluetooth® hands-free phone system ($1,000); and the Tow Package ($350). Additional standout attributes on the LE trim include 20-inch alloy wheels, Intelligent Key, the wood trim, flip-our rear quarter windows, the rear sonar system and monitor, metallic-finish grille; and the power liftgate.
A good rule of thumb to remember with Nissans is the more basic the trim (like the Armada's SE), the more no-frills the interior is going to be. Nissan doesn't give a lot for freebees, so if you love the Armada, be prepared to have to pay for upgrades. Even the floor mats will cost you something.
I feel the Armada makes good use of space and doesn't have a wasteful approach to interpreting large spaces. Nissan might not offer as many trims as Ford does, but Nissan gets the large SUV right.
HEELS ON WHEEL REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: I had six people, including two children, comfortably seated in the Armada. The lift gate opens at the touch of a button, and believe me, you want this option when holding groceries or boxes – not all SUVs have it. But the Xterra-style back door handles are not kid-friendly, as you have to be able to reach up five-plus feet to open them. The 8" color display DVD Entertainment Package ($1,600) with Remote Control and Wireless Headphones can be used at the same time as the Bose® sound system satellite XM radio. What a plus to have dual media capability and have the Navigation System be so easy (never had to crack out the manual). Third-row passengers are going to feel smashed, but this is the case with all third-row seating.
Reliability & Safety Factor: Consumer Reports gave the 2007 a low score in reliability; U.S. News & World Report gave the 2008 a reliability score of 7.2 out of 10. Results from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show average safety scores, but it still achieved five of five stars in driver protection and four of five stars in front-passenger protection in frontal crash tests. It also earned a rollover rating of three of five stars.. Safety standards – what comes with the vehicle – include child safety door locks; power door locks; anti-lock brakes; driver, front, passenger, side head airbags; and that electronic parking aid. The Armada is covered by the 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and offers a 5-year/60,000 mile one.
Cost Issues: Gas mileage is a tough one to swallow but typical at 12-mpg city and 18-mpg highway driving for an average of 15-mpg. Nissan estimates you will spend $2,838 on gas yearly, but government statistics on the car quote more like $3,352. The Armada is capable of using Ethanol 85, or E85, which is a mixture of 85 percent renewable ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, and more expensive than gas per gallon. The Ford Expedition with roughly the same attributes is priced out at $47,975 in compared to the Armada's $46,715
Activity & Performance Ability: You should know Nissans have a stiff power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Not all rack-and-pinions are like this. I've also found the turning diameter on some Nissans tight, which limits u-turns and getting into parking spaces. But with a turning diameter of just 40.8 feet curb-to-curb, this big boy did around with no issues. You've also got technical navigation help with the Rear Proximity Sensor System, which beeps when you are close to an obstacle, and you can watch the whole thing up on the RearView Monitor. It doesn't feel as big as it looks, and its quick speed makes it feel even lighter. Towing capacity beats out competition by more than 2,000 lbs, so think about this if you plan on towing a boat.
The Green Concern: The Armada will consume 24.5 barrels of gas in a year. It's not currently on any Green hit lists.
Let's keep it simple: Nissan strengths are its engine performance and tough looks. It's weaknesses are a boring approach to the interior and that you have to spend a lot in upgrade packages to be as satisfied with the outside and engine as you are with the inside.
©2008 Katrina Ramser