The 2021 Nissan Armada has been given new styling for the front and rear, a refreshed cabin, an impressive array of standard top driver safety aids and a more powerful engine.
Armada earned Kelly Blue Book’s (KBB) 2021 best ownership cost among large SUVs over a five-year period. As well, prior to the SUV’s recent upgrade, J.D. Power awarded Armada first place in 2020 for driver appeal and highest initial quality among large SUVs.
Although the first quarter of 2021 saw a 6% growth in large luxury 3-row SUV sales, the Armada, ranked sixth in sales out of 14 competitors, which translated in about aa 5% dip in sales.
The Armada’s major challenge comes from its low-fuel economy partially due to the standard 400-horsepower engine capable of standard towing muscle of 8,500 lbs. That engine muscle reduces fuel consumption to a 15-mpg average.
The Armada is a perfect fit for families desiring a luxurious cabin, space for 7 or 8 occupants, towing prowess and a comfortable ride on long trips. TheArmada’s cost to own for five years is more than $5,400 less than its competitors, due to a lower base price and overall maintenance costs, per KBB.
We tested the 2021 Nissan Armada Platinum with four-wheel drive and automatic transmission. Armada trims are SV, SL, and Platinum in 2WD or 4WD Auto. Options for our test ride totaled $1,755 for floor mats, captain’s chairs (which does reduce overall occupancy to 7 people) and lighting.
With body-on-frame construction and 22-inch wheels manipulated by front and rear independent suspension with stabilizer bars, jostling from rough roads is minimized.
Handling is average on macadam however faired better when off-road with specific drive modes and 9.2-inch ground clearance. Standard driving assistance aids are plentiful and there is a 360-degree surround-view monitor. Currently, the Armada’s crash safety testing is pending.
Chrome strips highlight the monochromatic exterior and V-8 chrome badging hints at the power. The Armada has a newly redesigned grille, bumpers, headlights, and taillights for an impressive profile.
A richly appointed cabin showcases quality materials with stitched leather upholstery, a massive new center design with a 12.3-inch elevated touchscreen above audio, climate control and connective ports partnering with a 7-inch gauge cluster. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless phone charging are standard.
The SUV’s voice recognition is excellent with superb navigation detail. Drill downs are easy for features, settings and controls. Visors extend fully.
The second row has two 8-inch entertainment screens and the power-folding third row boosts cargo capacity to 95.4 cubic feet, but cargo lift-over extends due to the extended bumper.
At a Glance
LIKES: Power, quiet, cabin layout, strong standard safety features, looks, ride
DISLIKES: Low mileage, extended cargo lift-over
BOTTOM LINE: If mpg isn’t a factor, one of the best buys in this niche
Fact File: 2021 Nissan Armada Platinum 4WD Auto
5.3-liter, V8, DOHC
400 hp at 5,800 rpm
413 ft.-lbs. at 4,000-rpm
14 mpg city/19 mpg hwy
0-60 in under 6 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.