Nissan Armada
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Overall

Nearly a decade virtually unchanged, but now the only “real” tow-ready ‘ute in Nissan’s pocket.

Drivetrain

Carryover 5.6-liter V8 serves up 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, with rear- or dual-range four-wheel-drive systems.

Although the Xterra remains a similarly “real” sport utility vehicle, after the Pathfinder returned to a car-based platform designed more for comfort than brute strength, the Armada is still one of the best tools for the job for work or play. The big-rig Nissan is based on the Titan truck platform and shares that vehicle’s 317-horsepower (and 385 pound-feet of torque) 5.6-liter V8. It’s a stout piece, indeed, but still about 65 horses shy of the equivalent-sized engines from Ford, Ram or Toyota. Linked to a five-speed automatic transmission, there’s enough grunt to tow up to 9,100 pounds. Armada can also seat up to eight passengers and accommodate all their personal effects. When all seats but the driver’s are folded flat, Armada can transport items up to 10 feet in length with the liftgate closed. The Armada last received a styling update for the 2008 model year, so it’s due for a refresh, if it remains in the stable past the current season. The 2013 addition of a Platinum Reserve package with 20-inch wheels, dark chrome grille and mirrors, and a two-tone leather interior with chrome trim added extra civility to the Armada. The base SV comes with a boatload of standard gear such as air/cruise/power locks, windows and doors, as well as power-adjustable pedals and a towing package. The up-level SL adds a leather interior, rear-view camera, power-folding third-row seat, Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a Bose-brand 11-speaker audio package. The Platinum tops up this content with heated front- and second-row seats and steering wheel, power moonroof, DVD entertainment unit and a navigation system with real-time traffic info when your subscription to XM satellite radio is activated. Nissan has managed to keep the Armada’s base price just above $40,000 (including destination charges), while, at the top end, the Platinum 4×4 adds about $13,000 worth of toys.

Base price (incl. destination): $42,300 (2013)
Type: Four-door sport-utility vehicle
Base engine (hp): 5.6-liter DOHC V8 (317)
Layout: Front-engine, rear- /four-wheel-drive
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
MPG (city/hwy): 13/19
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes
Weight (lb.): 5,370