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Nissan Armada: Massive size gives passengers huge comfort

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For 2018, Nissan’s Armada adds a few minor upgrades and a new top-level trim. In terms of looks and size, Armada is a cross between a Toyota Land Cruiser and the new VW Atlas. All three are large, family-oriented three-row SUVs featuring room for seven or eight passengers.

The Armada comes courtesy of the Nissan Patrol SUV, which is sold overseas in countries like The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. In the United States, the Armada model range begins with SV trim, next up is the SL, then Platinum and a new-for-2018 Platinum Reserve. I tested the Platinum 4WD model.

The Armada is big, almost Hummer H2 big, and it checks in at nearly 6,000 pounds. Armada and its Infiniti QX80 cousin look very similar, but Armada differentiates with a different grille, contrasting fender flares over 20-inch wheels and less chrome.

Big, full-size SUVs usually come in two-box shapes and the Armada doesn’t break the mold. Nissan did spruce up the Patrol’s silhouette with some curvy fenders and bodylines, but on a large frame it looks a bit chunky and exaggerated.

As for its motivation, Armada offers a single 5.6-liter V-8 with no V6, no turbo or hybrid option. Nissan used the Patrol’s architecture/driveline. Backing up the torquey V8 is a 7-speed automatic transmission directing power to the rear wheels, or all four in the case of my test vehicle.

Inside, the Armada is luxury class. Driver and front passenger sit behind a huge double arch dash stuffed with chrome control knobs, buttons, and an 8-inch infotainment screen. As for comfort, there’s a cavernous amount of head, leg and shoulder room. My Armada Platinum had a heated steering wheel, heat/cool front seats with second-row heat. The leather front/middle seats are the recliner kind that just “soak up” passengers and the third row is the kids’ row, but it splits 60/40 with a power-folding feature.

Throughout the interior, there are luxury-level soft-touch materials and glossy faux wood trim. Overhead there’s a huge sliding moonroof, with one-touch open/close and tilt feature. For second-row passengers. there’s a Tri-Zone Entertainment System with dual 8.0-inch monitors, a DVD player with remote control (a little dated), but works well for long hauls and includes two wireless headphones.

Cargo measures a heroic 95.4 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded down. A power liftgate and Around View Monitor help you manage the mass of this SUV.

Armada uses an old-school body-on-frame platform that surprisingly returns a better ride than you expected. With its sheer mass and tall slab sides, Armada plows through the curves but gives you a solid, reassuring feel on the straights and around town.

If you’re stepping up from a lighter, smaller mid-size crossover, don’t expect the same handling or nimbleness. The Armada’s V8 is very smooth, but prod it hard and it emits a low growl as you briskly accelerate from a stoplight.

Overall acceleration is very good, fuel economy not so much. The body-on-frame design combined with the V8’s 394 lb. ft. of torque permits 8,500 towing, with the trailer tow package.

The 2018 Nissan Armada is old-school big, roomy and thirsty with the amenities and technology of a modern SUV. When you compare it to chief rivals like the Expedition and Tahoe (with similar equipment) there’s typically a noticeable gap in pricing that favors the Armada. Nissan’s biggest SUV doesn’t win every comparison, but Nissan indicates Armada is the fastest growing SUV in the class.