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2021 Nissan Armada - Review by Larry Nutson

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Lots of owner satisfaction

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

Nissan’s rugged body-on-frame Armada full size utility vehicle (UV) has been around for about 18 years now. Now in its second generation, it has been significantly updated for 2021.

It looks like this is paying off with Armada sales up 13.2 percent for the first half of 2021.

The 2021 Armada features an extensively redesigned exterior that includes a new grille, hood, front fenders, front and rear bumpers, new LED headlights and taillights and one new exterior color. It is also the first vehicle to carry the new Nissan logo.

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Inside, the contemporary redesigned interior features a newly designed center stack anchored by a new standard 12.3-inch color display – the largest in class. There’s technology to keep you connected like standard Wi-Fi, standard wireless Apple CarPlay and available wireless smartphone charging.

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Standard Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) safety technologies include Nissan Safety Shield 360 and features such as Intelligent Lane Intervention, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and Blind Spot Intervention.

Under the Armada’s hood is a 400-hp 5.6-L V8 engine (a rarity these days) mated to a 7-speed automatic that features Adaptive Shift Control and Downshift Rev Matching. Fuel efficiency is improved through use of its wide gear ratios, automatic transmission fluid warmer and adoption of idle neutral control.

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Every 2021 Armada is available in a choice of rear-wheel drive (2WD) or Nissan's advanced Auto four-wheel drive (4WD) system, which features Auto/4HI/4LO modes, electronically controlled part-time transfer case and 2.70:1 4LO gear ratio.

EPA fuel economy ratings are 14 city mpg and 19 highway mpg for 16 mpg combined in Armada 2WD models. Armada 4WD EPA fuel economy ratings are 13 city mpg and 18 highway mpg for 15 mpg combined. A 26-gallon fuel tank helps provide ample driving range. .

Nissan says the 2021 Armada offers best-in-class standard 400 horsepower and best-in-class standard 8,500 lbs. maximum towing capacity. A new integrated Trailer Brake Controller with tow hitch receiver and Trailer Sway Control is available.

The 2021 Nissan Armada is available in S, SV, SL and Platinum models in 2WD and Auto 4WD drive configurations.  A new Midnight Edition Package is available on the Armada SL grade.

Full-size UVs are purchased to haul lots of people and lots of things. The 8-passenger Armada standard seating configuration includes front heated 10-way power-adjustable bucket seats with a large center console, 2nd row fold flat 60/40 split bench seat and 3rd row 60/40-split folding bench seat, which folds flat into the floor for extra cargo carrying flexibility.

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A 3rd row seat power-folding feature is standard on Platinum grade. Armada SL and Platinum models are also available with optional 2nd row captain's chairs and a removable 2nd row console.

Cargo volume is 16.5 cu.ft. behind the third-row. Fold that seat and it expands to 49.9 cu.ft. Fold the second-row seat and you get 95.4 cu.ft. of space.

2021 Armanda pricing starts at $48,900 for the S 2WD model and tops out at $68,300 for the Platinum 4WD.

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For my Armada drive experience I drove a 7-passenger SL 2WD equipped with the new Midnight Edition Package. With a MSRP base price of $56,000 the Midnight Edition Package added $1,990. Illuminated kick plates ($360) and second-row Captain’s Chairs ($650) brought the bottom line to $60,525, including the $1,495 destination charge.

The Armada Midnight Edition Package includes unique 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 275/60R20 all-season tires, black painted rearview mirrors, black painted roof rails, rear LED lamps with black exterior paint finisher, black painted grille, black painted front and rear skid plates, and black exterior logos. It also includes a black interior headliner, black interior trim, black leather-appointed seats, cargo mat and Midnight Edition floor mats.

I last drove the Armada when this second-gen model was introduced for 2017. Back then I climbed hills, cruised some freeways, twisted around some mountain curves and meandered through farm country. I noted the Armada is really big and can be bit much to handle in tight spaces. That was more than evident in this recent Chicagoland drive.

Handling is good with an overall feeling of being in control. There’s some body lean in turns. However, the suspension does an okay job to provide mostly decent ride quality. Steering feel and effort is balanced and appears well suited for all drivers. I’ve driven GMs newly revamped full size UVs with their new independent rear suspension which is perhaps the new benchmark in full size ute ride quality.

The big V8 delivers plenty of performance which is certainly a plus if you are hauling a lot especially in mountainous country. Of course, there’s a trade off in fuel consumption.

The Armada is big and perfectly easy to handle in the wide-open spaces. Drive it in an urban or big-city environment and you’ve got your hands full. There’s a high step-in height that can be a challenge for some. But, it does have room for eight and can haul an awful lot of stuff including tow big trailers.

More information and details on the 2021 Nissan Armada can be found at

Worthy of note is that the 2021 Armada is a best-in-class winners in AutoPacific's 25th annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSAs) as the Most Satisfying Large SUV. AutoPacific said: “Nissan's full-size Armada wins over the hearts of its owners and was christened the most satisfying Large SUV for the third year in a row. Even amid the present competition of other grand three-row SUVs, Armada owners rate their SUV at or near the top in 29 of the 36 measured attributes.”

Happy Motoring!