The 2022 Nissan Armada is your classic and unapologetically rough and ready SUV. It carries an off-road pedigree – known as the Patrol in the rest of the world – that few others have forged. But now, with its dune-crushing partner, the Land Cruiser sitting on the sidelines, the Armada is feeling a bit lonely in this narrow segment of the SUV kingdom. Does the recent refresh keep the Armada civilized enough for life on the pavement?
The Armada is a big SUV, no question. Its exterior is comparable to the Expedition and Tahoe yet inside, it’s more reminiscent of the Land Cruiser, which traded absolute interior spaciousness for underside heavy-duty hardware.
Front row passengers are unlikely to notice the packaging inefficiencies, however. The tall dash panel emphasizes the largeness of the Armada, yet, there’s not much else that captivates. The design feels pieced together and from a practical standpoint, the lack of small-item storage is a constant head-scratcher.
Those in the second row are also unlikely to complain about space although the large console slotted in between the two captain’s chairs is a sad waste of space and means that the third row will get used more often. Unfortunately, those relegated to the third row will wonder what they did to deserve such punishment which is a stark contrast to the Expedition and Tahoe which can comfortably fit adults.
One might imagine that with the tight third row, there would be a cavernous cargo area in the rear and indeed, there is room for a family’s worth of groceries but compared to the other newer large American-made SUVs, feels like an unreasonable compromise.
One compromise that people may be more accepting of is under the hood. Trading what seems to be any sense of fuel efficiency, the Armada’s 5.6-liter V8 feels just as strong and fast as Chevrolet’s 6.2-liter while its tangible smooth vibrations and crisp crackle near redline delivers far more personality than Ford’s turbocharged V6. But its 400 horses enjoy gulping fuel while an overly short throttle tip-in only encourages a rapid acceleration up to speed. The EPA rates the Armada at just 15 mpg combined or $900 more than the efficient (and powerful) Expedition and well over $4,000 a year in fuel costs alone.
Just as the powerful engine brings confidence in traffic, the expansive view, large mirrors, and surround-view camera ease the driving stress level whether on the highway or in the parking lot.
The overall ride is far better than the stiff suspension of the Expedition with the FX4 Off-Road Package but not nearly as capable over all terrains as the Tahoe with the Z71 Off-Road Package. Around bends, the Armada leans and expresses a less-than-athletic verve which is at odds with the quick ratio and heavy steering system – a seemingly misguided attempt at being sporty.
These large SUVs (and trucks) are what manufacturers use to rake in big profits and Ford and Chevrolet have shown that many of the Armada’s compromises are unnecessary with the latest technology and a commitment to creative designs, but for those that honor the Armada’s authentic attitude, those critiques will simply be seen as character.