Future Nissan Armada Defies Trend Toward Downsizing


  • 2013 Nissan Armada Picture

    2013 Nissan Armada Picture

    The future Nissan Armada won't be part of the auto industry's downsizing movement. | August 26, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • The upcoming redesigned Nissan Armada won't be downsized in an effort to reduce mass and vehicle weight, Edmunds has learned.
  • The Armada, a truck-based, eight-passenger SUV, is something of a rarity on new-car lots and that apparently won't change with the redesign.
  • Nissan is not saying when the redesigned Armada will go on sale, but industry sources point to 2015 or 2016.

IRVINE, California — Despite tougher regulations that require better fuel economy, the upcoming redesigned Nissan Armada won't be downsized in an effort to reduce mass and vehicle weight, Edmunds has learned.

Simply, there is a group of buyers who demand a big SUV and won't settle for less. The Armada, a truck-based, eight-passenger SUV, is something of a rarity on new-car lots these days.

"This customer needs the size and the towing," said Rich Miller, Nissan North America's chief product specialist for the Nissan Titan pickup truck and Armada. "That means we have to get innovative on how we are going to get our fuel economy improved.

"There are lots of ways out there. Right now (nearly) everything is on the table. But size is not on the table for that vehicle because that is the key purchase reason for that customer."

The redesigned Armada is midway through the development process, he said.

The SUV will share a body-on-frame platform with the redesigned 2015 Nissan pickup.

While Miller would not say when the redesigned Armada will go on sale, industry sources point to 2015 or 2016.

Over the past years, disappointing fuel economy, high gasoline prices and the recession have taken a toll on big SUV sales. Miller estimates the full-size SUV market at 275,000 to 300,000 annual sales, but "it was much higher before the recession in 2007."

"The segment has flattened out, but it is a very profitable segment," he said during an interview at a Nissan event in California.

The segment is made up of such vehicles as the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade, Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia, rear-drive vehicles with all-wheel or four-wheel-drive capability.

"There is a customer out there that can't go to another vehicle," Miller said. "They have three kids, a little bit larger family. They have outdoor activities, hiking, camping, hunting and boating that they do with their family. They need a vehicle that can haul the family, the family dog, all their equipment, and still tow. They can't buy anything smaller."

Miller said the automaker is looking at a number of methods to boost fuel economy, such as lighter-weight materials and boosting the number of transmission speeds.

The two-wheel-drive 2013 Armada is equipped with a 5.6-liter V8 engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. The SUV is rated at 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway by the EPA. The four-wheel-drive model of the Armada is rated at 12 mpg in city driving and 18 mpg on the highway.

Improved aerodynamics is under review, such as air deflectors and ground effects under the vehicle, Miller said.

General Motors is expected to offer an eight-speed automatic transmission when its redesigned full-size SUVs go on sale next year.

However, although the redesigned 2015 Titan pickup will be available with a 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel engine, Miller said there are no plans at this point to offer that engine in the Armada.

Edmunds says: Although big, beefy SUVs are not as popular as they once were, Nissan acknowledges there are still buyers who need the versatility and strength of such a vehicle as it redesigns the Armada.

Comments

  • wackford wackford Posts:

    Come on Nissan! Offer the diesel in this SUV. The market for used diesel Ford Excursions is pretty good from I have seen, and this might give a hint at how popular a diesel-powered full-size SUV could be.

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    Absolutely offer the diesel. It would be a perfect fit in this market niche.

  • reminder reminder Posts:

    I don't think I've seen five Armadas ever in my travels. Has to be one of the lowest volume sellers for all manufactures.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Some customers no doubt need the space and towing capacity, but I bet the overwhelming majority are used for single-person commuting and haven't towed a single pound in their life. Makes you wonder how people in the rest of the world without full-size trucks and SUVs manage to tow. Wait, I know...

  • motoxer913 motoxer913 Posts:

    I really wish Nissan would consider a diesel in the Armada. I'm an Armada owner and better range and mpg would be my #1 ask from a full sized SUV. Give me a 3.0 or 4.0L diesel with atleast 400ftlbs and gas mileage in the mid to high 20's and I will buy that. Whatever you do DO NOT sacrifice the 9000lbs towing capability! The Infinity version with 8 speed gearbox and newer version of the 5.6L which has direct injection isn't getting any better gas mileage than the Armada which is really disappointing...I think diesel is the solution. GM and Ford are only taking minor steps forward in evolution in 2014, take a chance and leap past them with a diesel offering Nissan!

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