Full 2013 Nissan Armada Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Nissan Armada gets a new Platinum Reserve appearance option package, while all Platinum models get dual 7-inch headrest-mounted screens added to the standard video entertainment system. Entry-level SV models also get a standard power front passenger seat and Bluetooth.
If you need to pull your 28-foot boat to the lake or pack your entire family up for a Saturday full of soccer games, the 2013 Nissan Armada has you covered. For other daily duty tasks, however, this aging SUV has a number of significant drawbacks.
Built on the same platform as Nissan's brawny Titan pickup, this full-size SUV has all the muscle you're ever likely to need. The eight-passenger interior has room for the entire family and a few friends, while the 317-horsepower V8 under the hood delivers abundant acceleration. The Armada's old-school body-on-frame construction also gives you the means to tow trailers up to an impressive 9,100 pounds.
The Armada's only real problem is that it doesn't quite measure up to its handful of full-size SUV rivals. The 2013 Chevy Tahoe, 2013 Ford Expedition and 2013 Toyota Sequoia all best the Armada in terms of ride quality, third-row legroom, cargo room and extent of available features and options.
It's also worth noting that all of those traditional (truck-based) SUVs are hampered by their bulky dimensions and gas-gulping V8 engines. As such, we think most buyers would be better served by the new crop of car-based crossovers. If you decide to go that route we recommend checking out the GMC Acadia, Mazda CX-9 and even Nissan's new Pathfinder, as they all offer roomy interiors but with a less truckish ride, superior handling and higher fuel economy numbers.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV that's offered in three trim levels, including the base SV, midrange SL and top-of-the-line Platinum.
The entry-level SV model comes well equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, side-step rails, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear climate controls, cloth upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat and four-way power front passenger seat, a tilt-only steering wheel and power-adjustable pedals. Also standard is Bluetooth cell phone connectivity and an eight-speaker audio system with an in-dash six-CD changer and USB and auxiliary audio input jacks. Opting for the Driver package adds foglights, a power liftgate, an auto-dimming mirror, a rearview camera and an 11-speaker Bose sound system with satellite radio and rear audio controls. SVs with four-wheel drive come standard with this package.
The Armada SL includes all the above equipment plus 20-inch alloy wheels, an auto-leveling rear air suspension, a roof rack, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a power-folding third-row seat.
Moving up to the Platinum model gets you 20-inch chrome wheels, front parking sensors, a sunroof, dual power-folding mirrors, heated second-row seats and steering wheel, driver seat memory functions, a navigation system with real-time traffic, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual 7-inch headrest-mounted screens and a Bose audio system with digital music storage. Second-row captain's chairs are available on the Platinum model as a replacement for the standard bench. A new Platinum Reserve package adds distinctive dark chrome 20-inch alloy wheels and grille, two-tone leather upholstery and unique interior trim.
Other options include a towing package, sunroof and the DVD entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Nissan Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 that produces 317 hp and 385 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only available transmission, but buyers have a choice of rear-wheel or four-wheel drive (with dual-range gearing).
With either drivetrain, fuel economy is disappointing even for a large SUV. EPA fuel economy estimates are 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined for two-wheel-drive models and 12/18/14 for four-wheel-drive versions. Properly equipped, the Armada can tow up to 9,100 pounds.
The 2013 Nissan Armada comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front-seat active head restraints.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Nissan Armada offers an eight-passenger cabin that's attractive and well put together. Gauges and controls are well-placed and intuitive, though Platinum models equipped with the standard navigation system suffer from an overabundance of buttons.
Seating comfort for both front and second-row passengers is quite good, with plenty of head- and legroom with either the 40/20/40-split second-row bench or the Platinum model's optional twin captain's chairs (which drop seating capacity to seven). The 60/40-split third-row seat is a little short on legroom, however.
Folding down those rear seats gives the Armada a healthy 97 cubic feet of cargo space. While this number may sound impressive, it's actually about 10 cubic feet less than you'll find in the cargo holds of some of its competitors.
The experience of driving the 2013 Nissan Armada is about what you'd expect from an old-school SUV. The 5.6-liter V8 delivers beefy performance, though fuel economy can be downright abysmal.
The ride quality is generally good, though it deteriorates quickly when traversing broken pavement, a trait that puts it at a disadvantage compared to competitors like the Toyota Sequoia. Handling is ponderous with its supersize dimensions, and the heavily weighted steering makes it a bit of a handful in tight spaces. That said, all full-size SUVs suffer from these same ills to one degree or another, making a solid argument for opting instead for one of the many more nimble and fuel-efficient large car-based crossovers.