|Rugged good looks make for an attractive full-size SUV. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The numbers won’t likely get Nissan’s bean counters jumping for joy, with 716 Armadas sold last year compared to 697 Sequoias in Canada, plus Nissan’s US division managing to move 13,834 off dealer lots compared to just 12,771 of the big Toyota. After the first month of 2017 Nissan USA has kept up its momentum with 1,908 Armadas down the road compared to a mere 1,146 Sequoias, so Nissan Canada had better get its act together because Toyota is once again out in front
|Lengthy profile holds up to eight adult occupants. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
There are numerous races like this going on in the auto industry, some gigantic like Camry and Accord versus Altima and Fusion within the massive mid-size sedan segment, where the Altima is currently gaining ground in Canada despite most rivals spiraling downward, and others smaller like Micra vs everything else in the subcompact city car class, in which the tiny Nissan sold more than all others combined last year. Within the larger subcompact class Nissan’s Versa is strongest overall in the U.S., whereas Rogue is one of the compact SUV segment leaders in both markets; ditto for the Murano and Pathfinder tag-team within the mid-size SUV class.
|Premium detailing makes the Armada look pricier than it is. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The irony is that our brand new Armada is now a seven-year old design, well beyond the usual product lifecycle stale date. It’s been called other names in different markets, such as Safari in Japan and Patrol elsewhere, while the previous first-generation Titan-based Armada soldiered on here. Savvy badge-engineering fans
|Standard LED taillights and 20-inch alloys are a cut above. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Most of us have seen Nissan Patrols before, albeit the majority being fifth-generation models or earlier and not in the metal, but instead while watching 24-hour news stations with big, bold, black “UN” lettering painted on the sides, or on the same stations being used for everything from ambulances and police vehicles to military troop carriers, the big and very capable SUV used for just about every type of public and clandestine activity throughout the world.
|Stylish LED tail lamps distinguish the Armada. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Platinum trim provides a posh interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Despite the recent jump in Canadian sales the Armada remains rare here too. Its record-breaking 716 deliveries were infinitesimal compared to the segment sales leaders, Ford selling 3,729 Expeditions during the same 12 months and General Motors finding 5,235 buyers for its Chevy Tahoe/Suburban duo plus 5,446 for its GMC Yukon/XL, resulting in a grand total of 10,681. Hard to believe, but GM sold more full-size truck-based SUVs than Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia mid-size crossover SUVs, so it’s big business for the Detroit automaker. At least this shows a promising upside for potential Armada sales.
|Loads of leather, woodgrain and metal trim combine with impressive refinement. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
To Nissan’s benefit, the Armada is quite a bit nicer than all of its current competitors.
|Straightforward and easy to read gauges are refreshing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Eight-inch infotainment with navigation comes standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
My tester was in top-line Platinum trim, a $5,750 charge over the base SL for a total of $69,998 plus freight and fees. A shortlist of Platinum features includes speed-sensitive power steering, unique machine-finished 20-inch alloys on 275/60R20 all-seasons, a windshield wiper de-icer, double-stitched leather door trim, ventilated front seats, heatable second-row seats, XM NavTraffic and NavWeather, a rear entertainment system with dual seven-inch monitors built into the
|The Around View monitor truly helps when parking. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Some key items pulled up to this Platinum model from base trim include auto on/off LED headlamps with LED signature detailing, fog lamps, LED taillights, running boards, roof rails, heatable power-folding side mirrors with chromed caps and integrated turn signals, remote start, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, a heated leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a powered tilt and telescoping steering column, full-speed dynamic cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, a garage door opener, overhead glasses
|A classy metal dial means that 4×4 modes are only a quick twist away. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
It’s amazingly comfortable, with front seats that are amply large for most body types and adjustable enough to find the ideal driving position, while the Armada provides
|Big multi-adjustable power and climate-controlled seats are ultra-comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
If you regularly load your SUV up with gear you’ll appreciate the Armada’s size, its 470 litres (16.6 cubic feet) of cargo carrying capacity behind the third row meaning
|Twin heated captain’s chairs offer better comfort and a massive console in between. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The old model’s 4,128-kilo (9,100-pound) tow rating was higher too, but most won’t have a problem dragging along a camper or boat behind the new Armada, its 3,855 kilos (8,500 lbs) of maximum trailering weight still impressive. Its solid stance
|The third row seats three adults comfortably. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
It’s certainly entertaining to drive with strong acceleration from standstill and superb passing power, its seven-speed automatic with manual mode playing an important role here, while it handles nearly as well as the seemingly more sport tuned QX80. Even more important its ride is sublime, this not unusual with body-on-frame SUVs, the new Armada’s frame rails some 40 mm wider than the previous iteration’s for added strength and stiffness. Structural rigidity has actually improved by 20 percent, this aiding everything from ride quality, handling,
|Even room for cargo or the family dog when all seats are filled. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
As noted earlier, the Armada’s identical global donor SUV is legendary for its mountain goat-like 4×4 prowess, and while I find it difficult to imagine anyone wanting to scratch up my tester’s gorgeous Forged Copper paintwork and stunning set of rims the SUV’s standard full-time four-wheel drive and two-speed transfer case with available low-range is just what’s needed to crawl over, around or through almost any obstacle an off-road enthusiast could find, while its 234-mm (9.2-inch) ground clearance makes it lofty enough to walk over protruding rocks and stumps that could hang up lesser utes, plus anything that makes contact should be repelled by standard skid plates. Other specs worth noting
|The Armada can swallow up almost anything you can load into it. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I don’t know about you, but with 4×4 cred like that I’d send away for a set of Patrol badges if this were my Armada, just to bestow upon it the legendary character it deserves. That Nissan’s North American operations didn’t comprehend the opportunity to play up the Patrol name is a bit baffling to me, especially considering many of its buyers will be hardworking successful immigrants that originally hailed from other parts of the world more familiar with the name, but either way this big utility will be more popular than its predecessor. It’s an altogether better and more capable SUV after all, not to mention one of if not the best in its full-size volume branded SUV class.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)