2018 Nissan Armada

2018 Nissan Armada Review

Ample power, room and comfort make the Armada well suited for tackling the daily grind.
7.8 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Surprisingly luxurious and easy to drive, the 2018 Nissan Armada offers ample power, room and utility. With three rows of seats, robust towing limits and sophisticated four-wheel-drive capability, the Armada capably handles both the daily grind and the road less traveled.

Some of the Armada's special sauce comes from the Armada sharing its bones with the upmarket Infiniti QX80. It's the same SUV from Nissan's luxury division. There are some differences between the two models, and certainly the Armada lacks the Infiniti's more refined details, but overall the design and fit-and-finish rises above those of a standard SUV.

There's also plenty of room to highlight all that interior goodness. The Armada's total cabin space is larger than many of its competitors, and offers 16 cubic feet of luggage space behind its upright third row. Folding all rows opens up nearly 95 cubic feet of cargo space, which is better than average — less space than a Ford Expedition, but more than a Chevrolet Tahoe. The Armada also brakes, steers and handles with surprising coordination, and the 5.6-liter V8 engine delivers hearty acceleration.

There are a few drawbacks to the Armada. Fuel economy is poor even for a big SUV, the third-row isn't that roomy (for adults at least), and the infotainment interface is dated. But as an overall package that can tackle outdoor pursuits or the suburban mean streets with equal aplomb, the 2018 Nissan Armada is a heavyweight.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Nissan Armada as one of Edmunds' Best Family SUVs for this year.



What's new for 2018

Nissan redesigned the Armada last year, so the 2018 model carries over with only minor changes. NissanConnect telematics services, an 8-inch touchscreen display, HD radio, hands-free text messaging, and additional USB charging ports now come standard on all trims. A rearview mirror that can stream a constant video feed from the rear camera is also new this year.

We recommend

If you need visual entertainment for young rear-seat passengers or just really want cooled seats for swampy afternoons, the Platinum trim makes sense. Otherwise, opt for the midgrade SL trim and add the optional Premium package of driver assistance features. That combination delivers nearly all of the Platinum's coveted features for less money




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV that seats eight passengers. Second-row captain's chairs are available on the top Platinum trim and reduce seating to seven. All Armada trims use a 5.6-liter V8 engine (390 horsepower, 394 pound-feet of torque) paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is optional. The Armada's trim levels start at the SV, move up to the midgrade SL, and finish with the nearly fully loaded Platinum.

The standard SV trim starts with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, roof rails, side steps, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a reclining second-row bench split seat and a 60/40-split third-row seat.

Tech features include Bluetooth connectivity, a navigation system, an 8-inch touchscreen display, and a 13-speaker Bose audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, two USB media inputs and two USB charge-only ports.

The optional Driver package adds a power liftgate, foglights, a power-adjustable third-row seat, an auto-dimming mirror and a trailering package.

The SL trim level includes the Driver package items plus 20-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, remote engine start, a power-adjustable steering wheel, driver-preferences memory, leather upholstery, leather door trim, a 120-volt power outlet, and an enhanced 360-degree top-down parking camera with moving-object detection and warning.

The SL's optional Premium package adds a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, forward and rearward emergency automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The range-topping Platinum adds the SL's optional equipment along with different 20-inch wheels, speed-sensitive steering (requires less effort at slow speeds), heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear-seat entertainment system and an upgraded rearview mirror than can display a constant video feed from the rearview camera.

Two packages are available for the Armada Platinum. The Captain's Chairs package replaces the second-row bench seats with two bucket seats and a center console with a padded armrest, and the Platinum Reserve package adds special exterior trim and two-tone leather upholstery.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum (5.6L V8 | 7-speed automatic | 4WD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.8 / 10

Driving

8.5 / 10

Acceleration9.0 / 10
Braking9.0 / 10
Steering5.5 / 10
Handling8.5 / 10
Drivability8.0 / 10

Comfort

8.5 / 10

Seat comfort9.0 / 10
Ride comfort8.5 / 10
Noise & vibration9.0 / 10
Climate control8.0 / 10

Interior

8.5 / 10

Ease of use7.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out6.5 / 10
Driving position8.0 / 10
Roominess9.0 / 10
Visibility8.0 / 10
Quality9.0 / 10

Utility

8.0 / 10

Small-item storage8.0 / 10
Cargo space7.0 / 10

Technology

6.0 / 10

Audio & navigation6.5 / 10
Smartphone integration5.5 / 10
Driver aids7.5 / 10
Voice control5.5 / 10

Driving8.5

Sure, it's big, but the Armada certainly doesn't drive that way. It accelerates smartly, brakes with reassuring confidence, and feels composed and willing on mountain roads. Our biggest beef revolves around the steering, which lacks a defined sense of "straight-ahead" when cruising straight.

Acceleration9.0

To look at it, you'd think the big Armada's engine has its work cut out for it. But the direct-injected V8 is more than up to the task. Acceleration is brisk, it never feels very sluggish, and it is easy to execute passing maneuvers. Ours accelerated to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds at our test track.

Braking9.0

It's hard to find fault with the Armada's brakes. The pedal feels smooth and reassuring underfoot, and the brakes deliver their stopping power in a measured and predictable way. And they are indeed quite powerful, as evidenced by our 115-foot result in our 60-mph panic-stop test.

Steering5.5

It imparts a poor sense of straight-ahead stability because the steering wheel feels numb and detached when making small corrections. The wheel doesn't return to center readily. And it feels huge when making U-turns — it needs a lot of room.

Handling8.5

The Armada's cornering behavior is composed and reassuring. There's a decent amount of grip, and body lean is moderate and well-regulated. It drives through turns more smoothly than you'd expect of something that weighs nearly 3 tons.

Drivability8.0

It's easy to be smooth in an Armada. The throttle pedal calibration is in the Goldilocks zone — neither too reluctant nor too eager. And the Armada's automatic transmission executes smooth and crisp shifts. Fuel economy programming can make it reluctant to downshift if you're too easy on the throttle.

Off-road7.0

The Armada isn't ideally suited for severe off-road use. It is physically massive, body clearance isn't abundant, and its suspension lacks the necessary articulation. It also does not have the multiterrain traction control system found on the closely related Infiniti QX80.

Comfort8.5

Our Armada proved to be quite comfortable for the long haul. It gives away almost nothing to its pricier cousin, the Infiniti QX80, but it manages to ride smoother on the road because it wears a more sensible (and absorbent) 20-inch tire and wheel combination.

Seat comfort9.0

The supportive front and middle row seats are nicely sculpted with generous padding. The heated and cooled front seats work like gangbusters, but the setting is hard to interpret at a glance, especially at night. Middle-row seats have two-stage heaters. Flattish third row is still above average.

Ride comfort8.5

The Armada rides quite smoothly, and its suspension is well-calibrated to resist float, heave and other boatlike motions. It handles bumps and potholes well too, much better than the last Infiniti QX80 we drove. It helps that this Armada has 20-inch wheels instead of the 22s found on the Infiniti.

Noise & vibration9.0

Shhh. Do you hear that? Neither do I. It's really quiet in here. The cabin feels tight, and very little wind, road or engine noise makes it inside. Sure, the engine makes itself heard when you floor it, but it's a pleasantly powerful sound that fades into the background when you back off and cruise.

Climate control8.0

We find it easy to set and maintain a comfortable temperature, and even though they look a little dated, the main climate controls are easy to figure out and use.

Interior8.5

Despite its tall entry height and button-rich control layout, the Armada's interior is attractive and accommodating. The cabin is very roomy, the interior fit-and-finish is well worth the price, and the driver enjoys a commanding view of the road.

Ease of use7.5

The switchgear is clearly marked and nicely separated by function, but there sure are a lot of buttons to master. And though the central control dial is a nice idea, it and its surrounding button array are a long reach away from the driver in this admittedly cavernous cabin.

Getting in/getting out6.5

The doors open wide and there are grab handles for all, but there's no getting around the sheer height of this body-on-frame SUV, which has a higher step-up height than its competitors. The third-row entry tumble mechanism is nice enough, but it's still a job getting back there.

Driving position8.0

A good amount of seat height adjustment makes it easy for most to settle in and reach the pedals, and the telescoping wheel has a fairly generous range of adjustment.

Roominess9.0

No problem in this category. The first two rows provide generous head- and legroom, and even the third row is suitable for adults of average height. The cabin feels wide, too, with a decent amount of door clearance and wide center consoles that help preserve personal space.

Visibility8.0

The windows are generous and the beltline isn't too high. The angled rear pillar gives the driver a bit of blind-spot relief, too. But the thing we like most is the available 360-degree camera system, which makes easy work of parking and backing up.

Quality9.0

This is where the Armada looks and feels a cut above the competition, particularly at the Platinum level. The materials look and feel quite sumptuous, and in many ways are nearly indistinguishable from the Infiniti QX80.

Utility8.0

There's a lot of cargo space, and the Armada is rated to tow a fair amount. The main thing holding it back from a higher score is the sheer height of the load floor and the long inward reach that results from the somewhat protuberant rear bumper.

Small-item storage8.0

There's no lack of storage up front, where the glovebox, center console and door pockets are all good-size. And rear passengers have access to seatback pockets, decent-sized door pockets and a large center console. The rest is a collection of flat surfaces; there are no phone-specific nooks.

Cargo space7.0

The Armada offers tons of cargo space, and the easy third-row seat folding mechanism exposes a flat load floor. But the middle-row center armrest sticks up like an island, the liftover height is among the tallest, and you must reach in deep because the rear bumper juts out quite far.

Child safety seat accommodation8.0

The large middle row works well with seats of all types, even bulky rear-facing ones. LATCH anchors are obvious and only slightly buried in the cushions. But you'll have to lift infants up into this tall SUV, and it can be hard for adults to get into the third row if seat-belt help is needed.

Towing9.0

The Armada is rated to tow 8,500 pounds, which is stout for this class. Standard rear air suspension is there for load-leveling, and the Armada comes prewired for four-pin trailer lighting and has a seven-pin socket that'll support trailer braking if you add an aftermarket trailer brake controller.

Technology6.0

Our loaded Armada Platinum test vehicle came standard with tech that looks good on paper. But the reality is these systems feel nearly a decade old because the 2018 Armada is essentially the same as the 2011 Infiniti QX56. A lot has changed since then, but the Armada seems like a time capsule.

Audio & navigation6.5

The 13-speaker Bose premium audio system sounds amazingly good, but the screen resolution and the control interface look and feel somewhat old. It's built around a central control knob, which might be OK if it wasn't such a long reach from the driver (and the front passenger) in this big cabin.

Smartphone integration5.5

It has Bluetooth audio and a single USB port input that talks to iPhones, but it's hard to navigate through playlists and episodic content such as podcasts. In this respect, it's a shame the new Armada lacks modern smartphone features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Driver aids7.5

It has the same lane departure and forward collision warning systems we first saw when the 2011 Infiniti QX56 (renamed QX80) was introduced. We thought these features were too sensitive then, and we still find ourselves reaching for the off button today. Adaptive cruise works quite smoothly.

Voice control5.5

You need to adapt to a fairly strict and defined lexicon to work the voice controls in the Armada. And the system does not support push-and-hold access to Siri via a paired smartphone either.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.