The Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV available since the 2004 model year, targeted at the North American market.
Nissan Armada Design and Development
The Armada was developed starting in 1999 under Carlos Ghosn’s leadership. The model was part of his Nissan Revival Plan and was based on the Nissan Y61 Patrol. The project was led by designers Shiro Nakamura and Diane Allen. Yuzo Sakita and Larry Dominique served as the chief engineers. It was first unveiled at the 2003 New York Auto Show. Its boxy exterior look matched many full-size SUV models of the era, including options from North American companies that had proved to be popular and in demand. One of the unique design aspects of the Armada, which was borrowed from the Nissan Pathfinder, is the placement of the rear door handles on the C pillar. It’s also worth noting that the first Aramadas released came under the Pathfinder Armada label, which was dropped for solely Armada in late 2004.
Engine, Performance, and Features
The engine was a 5.6L VK56DE V8 which produced 317 horsepower and 385 lb ft of torque. It was paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission and was available in rear-wheel and four-wheel drive variants. Some of the 5.6L engines were capable of using E85 ethanol blend fuel. The 2008 model year Nissan Armada received a slight redesign to bring it up to date. One of the main changes was the interior options for the top-tier Platinum trim level, which now included a 9.3 GB hard drive for music storage, plus an additional flash memory card reader. Various other changes through the first generation Armada include the 2011 change from SE and Off-Road trim to just the SV, SL, and Platinum trim levels. In 2013, Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio became standard equipment, while a 40 GB hard drive, USB port, and a DVD entertainment system were available options.
Second Generation Changes
The second generation Nissan Armada was released in 2016, as a 2017 model year. It was first unveiled at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, showcasing the heavily redesigned exterior which featured a more rounded design. The rear end now had a smoother line running from the windshield back, compared to the previous generation’s slightly mismatched cargo area. The platform moved away from the previous one shared with the Titan pickup truck, and instead is now based on the Nissan Patrol and is also shared with the more luxurious Infiniti QX80. It features a 5.6L VK56VD Endurance V8 engine with an impressive 390 horsepower, paired with a 7-speed RE7R01B automatic transmission. It is available in SV, SL, and Platinum trim levels, with the SV serving as the base model and Platinum as the top tier.
2012 Nissan Armada Updates
In 2012, the Armada was updated inside and out, increasing horsepower to an even 400 hp. The rear end and lights were made to be more rounded, while the front end was changed to match other Nissan models and featured new C-shaped LED headlights. The interior features a wider infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Wheel sizes go up to a 22-inch option in the Platinum trim level, while the interior upholstery is quilted leather in this luxurious option. The base SV uses leatherette upholstery and the mid-range SL uses leather upholstery and 20-inch wheels.
Sales for the Nissan Armada have been fairly strong throughout most of its history. It sold more than 30,000 units annually from 2004 to 2007, before the Great Recession hit and energy prices skyrocketed, reducing demand for large vehicles with V8 engines. After a slump in 2009 and 2009, sales picked back up to a respectable 18,000 to 19,000 units per year. In 2017, the Armada once again become popular with more than 35,000 units sold. It has hovered around that figure until 2020 when the COVID pandemic put another dent in sales. The Nissan Armada was well poised to compete with other full-sized SUVs in North America. It brings an affordable option in the base trim level while allowing for those who seek a bit more luxury to go for the Platinum version without having to go all the way up to the Infinity price range.