The plus-size Nissan Armada SUV heeds the call of buyers looking for lots of room for passengers and cargo in an upscale cabin, with enough extra power to still haul a trailer after filling the cabin to capacity.
Armada is revamped for 2021 with significant exterior styling changes, a number of interior updates, a new Midnight Edition blacked-out appearance package, a horsepower boost and additional standard safety features. It’s the first vehicle to wear Nissan’s new logo.
The Armada’s grille, hood, front fenders, front bumper and headlights are all new, giving the SUV a more squared and sculpted look. A new rear bumper, LED taillights and combination lights complete the transformation.
Inside, the center stack has been redesigned with a new standard 12.3-inch touchscreen as its focal point. Wi-Fi and wireless Apple CarPlay are new standard features, and wireless smartphone charging is available.
A new 7-inch driver-assist color display in the gauge cluster has higher resolution for better visibility.
Included for the first time on Armada within the NissanConnect Services Convenience plan is Nissan Concierge, providing 24-hour access to a live assistant at the push of a button.
Every new Armada comes with a burly V8 engine making 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, an increase of 10 horsepower and 19 pound-feet over the previous model. A smooth, quick seven-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board.
When properly equipped, the Armada is good for towing up to 8,500 pounds, for both rear-wheel and four-wheel drive versions.
Fuel economy ratings are a wince-worthy 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined for 2WD, and 13/18/15 mpg for 4WD.
Newly standard active safety features for all models include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear automatic braking and lane-keeping assist.
The 2021 Armada comes in S, SV, SL, and Platinum trim levels, with standard 4×2 or optional 4×4 configuration for each one. Pricing for the S model starts at $50,395 including a $1,495 destination charge.
I drove the Armada Platinum 4WD model, $69,795. In the Armada hierarchy it adds front seat ventilation, power folding third-row seats, 22-inch wheels, a rear seat entertainment system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and quilted leather upholstery to the impressively equipped base S model and the handful of niceties added to the in-between trims.
The new infotainment system is a true improvement, a real keeper. Its 12.3-inch touchscreen is fantastic. Manual dials are provided for volume and tuning control, along with push buttons and another dial on the center console for other functions. Operation is intuitive. The 13-speaker Bose premium audio system, standard on the Platinum trim, is glorious.
My tester had the optional ($650) second-row captain’s chairs arrangement, reducing seating capacity to seven rather than the standard eight, but greatly increasing the Armada interior’s appeal. The two seats are luxurious, separated by a big handsome and useful console, and legroom is grand. The seats fold flat and go back up easily. They also flip up entirely to simplify access to the third row, which is little-kids-only territory.
Armada is aptly named. It is massive and industrial-strength, with not a dainty thing to be found on it. For all that, the ride is gentle and peaceful. From the driver’s perspective, there’s no mistaking Armada for something less huge. It goes through curves leisurely and feels buoyant on the freeway.
2021 NISSAN ARMADA PLATINUM 4WD
Base price, including destination charge: $69,795
Price as driven: $71,250
Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.