Full 2010 Nissan Armada Review
What's New for 2010
The 2010 Nissan Armada gains new Titanium and Platinum trim levels in place of the discontinued LE, and seat-mounted side airbags for front passengers are now standard across the lineup.
Armadas have come a long way since Spain's failed naval invasion of England in 1588, and the 2010 Nissan Armada is no exception. Like most modern armadas, Nissan's is far swifter than any galleon of yore, and it guzzles a lot of fuel in the process. In today's marketplace, the Nissan Armada plays the pirate's role, seeking to swipe some full-size SUV booty from the familiar domestic players in this gas-swilling segment. This U.S.-built Japanese behemoth is plenty capable, but it's been around for awhile, so newer rivals may be better choices.
The Armada was introduced for the 2004 model year, back when disposable income was plentiful, gas was cheap and environmental concerns were on the back burner. Sales in this segment have sunk since then, but if you're among the dwindling number of consumers who require a full-size SUV's services, there's still a lot to like about the Armada despite this three-row SUV's advancing age. Based on the Titan pickup, the Armada has the same rugged body-on-frame construction as its competitors, and it also has a pleasant interior that's a cut above the norm for this segment.
Unlike most of its rivals, the 2010 Nissan Armada is only available with one engine, a 5.6-liter V8 that pumps out 317 horsepower. Nonetheless, that's enough to give the Armada brisk acceleration around town and ample passing power on the highway, as well as a 9,100-pound tow rating when properly equipped. We've driven the Armada both with and without a trailer, and we were impressed with its capable all-around performance.
Predictably, the penalty for this performance is abysmal gas mileage, even by full-size SUV standards. Given the economic uncertainties and volatile gas prices of the past few years, it's no surprise that the market for behemoths like the Armada has shrunk. Nonetheless, there are still those who need the Armada's prodigious capabilities and are willing to pay the price at both the dealership and the pump. If you're among them, we'd advise taking a close look at the Toyota Sequoia as well as the Tahoe and Ford Expedition before climbing aboard Nissan's buccaneering Armada.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Nissan Armada is a large SUV offered in SE, Titanium and Platinum trim levels with standard eight-person seating capacity. The base level SE comes well-equipped with 18-inch wheels, side-step rails, rear parking assist, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear climate controls, an eight-way power driver seat, a tilt steering wheel and power-adjustable pedals. Also standard is an eight-speaker stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack. The Titanium Edition includes an auto-leveling rear air suspension, tow package (available on SE), foglights, keyless entry/ignition, leather upholstery, a power-folding third-row seat, a back-up camera, Bluetooth and an 11-speaker Bose audio system. The Platinum Edition adds front parking sensors, a power rear liftgate, a sunroof, dual power-folding mirrors, heated front seats and steering wheel, driver memory functions, a DVD entertainment system and a navigation system with real-time traffic and a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive with music storage.
Options on the SE include a power-folding third-row seat and a Driver Package that adds many of the LE's extra features. Second-row captain's chairs are available on the Platinum model as a replacement for the standard bench. The DVD entertainment system is a stand-alone option on lower trims.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Nissan Armada is available with either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. All models feature a 5.6-liter V8 that produces 317 hp and 385 pound-feet of torque. A "Flex Fuel" version of this engine that can run on E85 is a no-cost option in select markets. A five-speed automatic is the only available transmission. With either drive setup, fuel economy is unimpressive even for a large SUV. EPA fuel economy estimates are 12 mpg city/18 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined regardless of rear- or four-wheel drive. Properly equipped, the Armada can haul 9,100 pounds.
The Armada comes standard with antilock disc brakes and brake assist, stability control, front seat active head restraints, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration frontal-impact crash tests, the 2010 Nissan Armada scored five stars (out of five) for driver protection and four stars for passenger protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Armada's interior features some soft-touch materials and a generally pleasing design, exuding a sense of higher overall quality than most models in this class. However, there are still a few cheap plastic bits here and there. The Armada's smart blend of high-mounted buttons and touchscreen controls fall more readily at hand than those in Toyota's Sequoia.
All Armadas come standard with seating for eight, though the second-row 40/20/40 bench can be replaced by captain's chairs and a center console on the top-end Platinum model. There are also plenty of storage cubbies, making life easier on long trips with the family. The rearmost 60/40 bench is easy to fold flat even in models without the power-folding option, allowing plenty of configurations for people- and cargo-hauling. (By contrast, you have to physically remove the seats in a Tahoe/Yukon). With all seats dropped, the Armada offers a maximum cargo capacity of 97 cubic feet, which is about 10 cubes fewer than its rivals.
The 2010 Nissan Armada's robust V8 feels stronger than its numbers suggest, though the massive weight of this truck is obvious when cornering or coming to an abrupt stop. The ride is usually comfortable, but some ruts can send considerable impact harshness through the steering wheel and seats. Newer truck-based SUVs like the Tahoe and Sequoia provide a smoother on-road ride. The Armada's steering is notably weighty -- nice at higher speeds, but an acquired taste in parking lots. Speaking of which, like other full-sizers, the Armada can be a hassle to maneuver on tight city streets and in parking lots. For the latter, the optional rearview camera and parking sensors are must-haves. Off-road performance is impressive for those so inclined.