What's New for 2006
The 2006 Nissan Armada SUV now has dual-zone automatic climate control and a 60/40-split fold-flat third-row seat as standard equipment. Nissan has also added upgraded side mirrors to the LE trim and a standard tow package to the SE Off-Road. Finally, satellite radio is a new option this year.
Nissan has had a reasonable amount of success with its small pickups and SUVs. The ever-popular Pathfinder was first introduced as a two-door and came off like a rough-and-tough-looking mini-Blazer. Later the four-door version came along and allowed those who needed extra rear-seat room to join the bold-looking Pathfinder party. Each subsequent redesign of the Pathfinder was an improvement, and the versatile compact SUV even stretched into the luxury segment when it was rebadged as the Infiniti QX4.
However, the one thing the Pathfinder could not escape was the fact that it was a midsize SUV, and in a world where full-size sport-utes rule, Nissan was left with nothing even approaching full-size. That all changed for the 2004 model year with the introduction of the full-size Pathfinder Armada SUV. Doesn't really roll off the tongue, does it? Shortly after introduction, Nissan wisely renamed it Armada. Name shenanigans aside, the Armada is a seriously big and seriously powerful SUV. Inevitably, most consumers will compare the Armada to the Sequoia, as they're the only full-size SUVs from foreign manufacturers. But the new Nissan SUV is bigger in just about every way -- more interior space, more horsepower, more ground clearance and more towing capacity. The Tahoe and Expedition are more appropriate competitors in terms of size and capacities.
The Nissan Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 that makes 305 horsepower and rides on a fully boxed steel frame. This is clearly not a car-based SUV; with a towing capacity of over 9,000 pounds and the most ground clearance in its class, those looking for an alternative to the Expedition or Tahoe will wonder what took Nissan so long. The Armada offers more than just brute strength. It also offers such family-friendly features as a DVD entertainment system, satellite radio capability (either XM or Sirius), leather seating, one-touch up-and-down front windows and fold-flat second- and third-row seats. With seating options for seven or eight passengers, the interior is more than roomy, and second-row passengers are afforded limolike legroom. Based on its size, easy-to-configure nature, bold styling and powerful V8, the 2006 Nissan Armada is well deserving of its place next to the Expedition and Tahoe in the still popular and very competitive full-size SUV segment.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Nissan Armada is available only as a four-door SUV. There are three trim levels: SE, SE Off-Road and LE. Base SEs come well equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, three rows of seating, a power driver seat, a tire-pressure monitoring system, power-adjustable pedals, rear parking sensors, rear-seat air conditioning, an eight-speaker stereo with an in-dash CD changer and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The SE Off-Road adds Rancho shocks, a lower final drive ratio, 17-inch wheels and all-terrain tires, foglights and skid plates. The high-line LE model loses the hard-core off-road equipment but gains upscale items like a power liftgate, heated leather seats, driver-seat memory, a power front passenger seat, second-row bucket seats, and an upgraded 10-speaker Bose audio system. Many of these features are optional on SE and SE Off-Road models. A sunroof and rear DVD entertainment system are optional on all trims. A DVD-based navigation system with a rearview monitor is an exclusive LE option.
Powertrains and Performance
All Armadas come with a 5.6-liter V8 paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Rated at 305 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, the V8 produces a broad band of power and warrants an impressive 9,100-pound maximum tow rating. SE and LE models are available with two- or four-wheel drive; the SE Off-Road is 4WD only. Four-wheel-drive models use a pushbutton transfer case with dual-range gears.
The Nissan Armada comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control, rear parking sensors and side curtain airbags that protect all three rows of passengers. A vehicle rollover sensor will deploy the side curtain airbags when it senses an imminent rollover accident. Seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants are optional on the SE and standard on the LE.
Interior Design and Special Features
The full-size Nissan Armada offers seating for up to eight passengers and easy-to-use, fold-flat second and third-row seats. For maximum flexibility in hauling people and cargo, the second-row bench has a 40/20/40 split while the third row has a 60/40 split. Opting for the LE model drops seating capacity to seven and replaces the second-row bench with captain's chairs. There's plenty of storage space up front and an unprecedented number of overhead storage bins. With both the second- and third-row seats folded flat, there's 97.1 cubic feet of cargo space.
While the powerful V8 does give the 2006 Nissan Armada a "light on its feet" feel when accelerating, the massive girth of this truck is obvious when cornering or coming to an abrupt stop. Still, ride quality is smooth and comfortable on the highway, and the well-weighted steering makes the full-size Nissan SUV easy enough to maneuver in everyday driving situations. The big V8 has a nice throaty rumble when pressed and at the same time delivers smooth power on par with the Sequoia's V8.