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Though crossovers rule the SUV segment, low gas prices mean there is still a thriving market for old-school full-size SUVs like the 2017 Nissan Armada. Freshly redesigned this year, the Armada is a comfortable and surprisingly luxurious alternative for those who need an SUV that can tow and haul, or one that can claw its way over rough terrain.
The old version of the Armada was built off the bones of Nissan's full-size Titan pickup, but the 2017 model is a new breed. Like its posh sibling, the Infiniti QX80, the Armada is based on the Nissan Patrol, an accomplished off-road SUV that has been doing battle in markets outside of America for some years now. Built with body-on-frame construction for maximum ruggedness, the Armada features seating for up to eight and a powerful V8 engine.
In terms of its engine, the Armada speaks softly but carries a big stick — a brawny 5.6-liter V8 that produces 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque, which can be paired with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case. The Armada can tow up to 8,500 pounds, more than most small pickup trucks, but the engine is thirsty: EPA estimates are 16 mpg combined (14 city/19 highway) with rear-wheel drive and 15 mpg combined (13 city/18 highway) with four-wheel drive.
Surprisingly, the interior differences between the Nissan Armada and the Infiniti QX80 are just about negligible — and make no mistake, the ambiance and materials quality are all built to Infiniti standards. We did miss the Infiniti's seats, which offer a greater degree of adjustability. First- and second-row comfort are fine, but the third-row seat and the cargo bay don't offer as much room as some of the Armada's full-size competitors.
The driving experience is just as refined as the interior decor. We expect some element of engine roar and wind noise in a road-going brick like this, but the Armada is respectably quiet, and while it definitely feels more cumbersome and truck-like than a large crossover, the Armada's ride is free of the bouncing and shimmying over bumps we've come to expect from full-size body-on-frame vehicles.
The Armada is available as a seven- or eight-seat SUV in SV, SL and Platinum trim levels. The SV comes very nicely equipped, with the SL adding features we expect from entry-level luxury vehicles and the Platinum narrowing the gap between the Armada and its Infiniti counterpart even further. What's the best way to equip this big SUV? Let Edmunds help find the perfect 2017 Nissan Armada for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.