Full 2014 Nissan Armada Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Nissan Armada sees no changes.
If you're looking for a workhorse that can take your 28-foot boat to the lake or haul the whole family to the mountainside condo, chances are good that the eight-passenger 2014 Nissan Armada is more than adequate. Based on the same tough platform as the Nissan Titan pickup, the Armada packs a 5.6-liter V8 engine along with stout, old-school body-on-frame architecture that's suitable for heavier-duty tasks. That dynamic duo allows this Nissan to tow up to 9,100 pounds.
For less glamorous, day-to-day duties, though, Nissan's aging full-size SUV isn't quite as impressive. Competitors like the Chevy Tahoe, Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia are all superior to the Armada when it comes to overall ride quality, third-row legroom and maximum cargo capacity. That said, all of these traditional (truck-based) SUVs are hampered to some extent by their bulky dimensions and gas-gulping V8 engines. Unless you truly need all that towing capacity, you'd probably be better served by a car-based, large crossover SUV.
Among these we'd suggest the GMC Acadia (and the similar Chevy Traverse), Mazda CX-9 or even Nissan's own Pathfinder. If you don't require quite as high a seating position, there's also the well-rounded, seven-passenger Ford Flex, which is more of a wagon. They all offer roomy interiors along with a smoother ride, superior handling and better fuel economy.
Overall, the 2014 Nissan Armada continues to get the job done for shoppers in need of a large-capacity SUV. But we think you'll find that there are superior choices out there, whether you plan on frequent towing or just hauling the family around town.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV offered in three trim levels: base SV, midrange SL and top-of-the-line Platinum. Depending on the seating configuration, the Armada can seat seven or eight.
The SV trim 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 are 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 7-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual 7-inch headrest-mounted screens and a Bose audio system with Bluetooth audio connectivity. Second-row captain's chairs are available on the Platinum model as a replacement for the standard bench seat; choosing them drops passenger capacity to seven. A Platinum Reserve package adds distinctive dark chrome 20-inch alloy wheels and grille, two-tone leather upholstery and unique interior trim.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Nissan Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine that produces 317 horsepower 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. The EPA's fuel economy estimates are 15 mpg combined (13 mpg city/19 mpg highway) for two-wheel-drive models and 14 mpg combined (12/18) for four-wheel-drive versions. Depending on the configuration, the Armada can tow up to 9,100 pounds when properly equipped.
The 2014 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. Rear parking sensors are standard on all 2014 Armadas, while front parking sensors come on the top Platinum trim level. A rearview camera is optional on the base SV with two-wheel drive and comes standard on everything else.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Nissan Armada offers an eight-passenger cabin that's attractive and well put together. Gauges and controls are logically arranged and intuitive, though Platinum models equipped with the navigation system have an overload of buttons.
Seat comfort for both front and second-row passengers is quite good. There's 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). However, the 60/40-split third-row seat is a little short on legroom compared with the third-row accommodations in other large SUVs.
Folding down all those rear seats gives the Armada a healthy 97 cubic feet of cargo space. While this number may sound impressive, it's actually 11-23 fewer cubic feet than you'll find in the Nissan's rivals.
Piloting the 2014 Nissan Armada is about what you'd expect from an old-school SUV. The 5.6-liter V8 engine delivers beefy performance with brisk acceleration and ample passing/merging power. Fuel economy, however, can be downright abysmal.
The Armada's ride quality is generally good on pristine roads, but it deteriorates quickly over broken pavement, where's it at a significant disadvantage compared with sport-utility vehicles like the smoother-riding Toyota Sequoia. Handling is ponderous with the Nissan's supersize dimensions, and its heavily weighted steering makes it a handful in tight spaces. Granted, all full-size SUVs suffer from these same ills to one degree or another, and that's why we encourage shoppers who don't need huge towing capacity to opt for a large crossover that's both easier to drive and more fuel-efficient.