Bridging the gap between the past and the future

2021 Nissan Armada showcases consumer demand

This week’s tester is kind of symbolic of where the auto industry is today, which is a stark difference to where the industry seems to be heading.

The 2021 Nissan Armada is all things big. It has a big V8 engine and weighs almost three tons (5,958 pounds). It stands as a contrast to the smaller engines, in smaller vehicles that are beginning the transition to hybrids and electrification.

The Armada is basically the type of vehicle many consumers wants, but that automakers seem to be forgetting about. Thankfully, for 2021, Nissan gives the Armada a bit of a refresh to make it look almost brand new.

The reason for the appearance of a brand-new look is the addition of a new front fascia for the Armada. This does push the Armada toward the forefront with some distinguishing styling. Additionally, the head lights are shaped almost like the Capital letter E to add even more distinguishing traits. Overall, the front end has a lot of personality and the refresh is a hit for sure.

A faux vent on the side panel near the A-pillar is borrowed from its luxury brand, Infiniti and adds an element of class to the Armada. The styling on the back remains mostly unchanged and thus, the Armada loses some of its boldness with a back side that is in need of an update. All-in-all, the Armada still looks the part of a full-size SUV with nearly timeless looks that seem to hold up. Competing against the likes of the long-in-the-tooth Toyota Sequoia along with the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon, the Armada holds its own.

The Armada is powered by a big engine that doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. The 5.6-liter V8 engine is big and powerful and feels almost obsolete when it comes to power output. Sure 400 horsepower looks impressive but consider that many turbocharged six-cylinder engines can make almost the same amount of power, in much smaller vehicles and you become less impressed.

Off the line, the Armada is sluggish. The seven-speed automatic transmission is adequate but sometimes feels outmatched as well. If there’s one area that the Armada really needs an update it’s in the powerplant.

If you need the Armada to tow a boat or RV, it is up for the task with a total towing capacity of 8,500 pounds, that’s the big reason and intent of this Armada. It’s there as a workhorse, more than a gas-guzzling daily driver.

Nissan benefits from some influences from its luxury branch, Infiniti. Inside, the Armada almost feels like an Infiniti, which is certainly a good thing. Quality touch points and eye-catching design are found throughout the Armada. Second-row legroom is outstanding, as is the headroom and overall comfort. However, the third-row could use some more legroom, but that’s the case with almost every vehicle in this segment.

Sure there’s room for seven passengers, but only about five of them will be truly comfortable.

The cargo area is accessed through a power liftgate. But thanks to the high stance of the Armada, accessing items behind the third row can be challenging. The Armada feels hulking in this regard, without the benefit of segment-leading cargo area.

There is only 16.5 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row with that number increasing to 49.9 cubic feet with the third row folded flat. The total cargo area is 95.4 cubic feet.

Nissan’s infotainment system is outstanding in that it is simple, but modern. With so many infotainment systems being unnecessarily complicated, Nissan’s Connect system integrates with Apple and Android devices and there’s a 12.3-inch touchscreen. All in all, the Armada earns high marks when it comes to technology.

For 2021 Nissan eliminated the Platinum Reserve trim. My tester was the Platinum trim with an MSRP of $68,000. With a few options, including the second-row captain’s chairs (highly recommended), and my tester had a final price tag of $71,250.

As mentioned, the big V8 engine and the nearly three tons of weight means the Armada is a guzzler. It has an EPA rating of 13 mpg/city and 18 mpg/highway. These numbers are definitely old-school and certainly fall far below where the industry is heading.

Big SUVs are still very much in chic with consumers. As all the focus looks toward an electrified future, Nissan, along with so many other manufacturers continue to invest in vehicles like the Armada as the demand and interest is still there.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2021 Nissan Armada Platinum

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $68,000/$71,250
  • Mileage.......................................... 13 mpg/city;18 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 5.6-liter V8
  • Horsepower................................. 400 hp/413 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. Seven-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ Four-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Los Angeles, CA

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