8.5 / 10
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8.5 / 10
- Highs Serenely quiet and comfy, smooth, potent powertrain, pillowy ride.
- Lows Dreadful fuel economy, some dated interior elements, wanders at highway speeds.
- Verdict Fresh styling and updated features help the Armada remain relevant when compared against newer competition.
With a fresh face and enhanced capabilities, the 2021 Nissan Armada aims to stay relevant against other large three-row SUVs. Its modernized mug plus a sprinkling of styling updates help it compete for attention with the redesigned Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon, which together lord over the segment thanks to their unrivaled popularity. The Nissan pushes back with more standard driver assists, a larger touchscreen infotainment system, and slightly higher max tow ratings. The Armada’s standard V-8 is slightly more powerful than before and we also expect that its fully independent suspension will once again provide a supple ride. Fuel economy remains subpar and—unlike the Chevy, GMC, or Ford Expedition—there’s no long-wheelbase model, but otherwise the 2021 Armada deserves attention.
What’s New for 2021?
The Armada gets a significant makeover for 2021, starting with a squarer front end featuring prominent headlights. The design revisions reach out back, too, with a new bumper and taillights that are connected by a continuous trim piece. There’s also a newly available Midnight Edition with blacked-out trim. Inside, Nissan redesigned the center stack and added a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay. The gauge cluster comes with a new 7.0-inch color display that further modernizes the cabin. Along with an updated center console and new interior-material options, the Armada lineup gets newly standard active safety features, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and more. Nissan also boosted the V-8’s horsepower from 390 to 400 (with Premium fuel); torque rises from 394 to 413 lb-ft.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We think the mid-level SL trim is the best value. In addition to all the desirable standard features it inherits from the base SV model, it comes with a 13-speaker Bose audio system, 20-inch rims, leather interior appointments, a power liftgate, remote start, and a sunroof. The SL also unlocks the optional second-row captain’s chairs, which we’d add.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
A powerful 5.6-liter V-8 with a civilized seven-speed automatic transmission is the Armada’s only powertrain. The engine makes up to 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque on premium fuel. It pairs with either rear- or all-wheel drive, and every model can tow 8500 pounds. We haven’t tested a 2021 Armada with the extra power, but the last version we drove had satisfying thrust and an exhaust system that made hearty sounds. Despite its large proportions, the Armada handled surprisingly well thanks to its fully independent suspension. Our test car had a comfy, quiet ride even though it rolled on 20-inch wheels (18-inchers are standard). Its soft-riding nature didn’t negatively affect our sense of control, but its steering was imprecise and slow to react, which allowed the SUV to wander on the highway like a member of its Spanish namesake. Along with impressive results in our emergency-braking test, the Nissan’s brake pedal delivered good feel and consistent feedback.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
All Armadas are powered by the same V-8 engine and automatic transmission, a combination that makes the Nissan less fuel efficient than most of its rivals. The EPA estimates the rear-drive version will earn 14 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway. Adding all-wheel drive into the mix reduces both numbers by 1 mpg. We haven’t tested a 2021 Armada on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, so we can’t evaluate its real-world mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
A cushy and spacious interior supplements the Armada’s classy outer shell. Its cabin is well insulated from outside noise and most materials are attractive and soft. The Armada has three rows of seats and can accommodate up to eight passengers, but capacity drops to seven with the optional second-row captain’s chairs. These fold easily and quickly with a handle that springs the seat forward; resetting the seat must be done manually, however. The power- folding third row (standard on the SL and up) can be adjusted via buttons in the cargo area or on the third row’s armrests, but snails move faster. Even compared with newer rivals, the Armada feels fancy and has plenty of third-row legroom. The top-of-the-line Platinum model has quilted seat surfaces and imitation open-pore wood trim, accentuating the luxury-SUV ambiance.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every Armada features a large 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with rotary controls for volume and tuning. The unit sprouts from the top of the center stack and comes with built-in navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio (subscription required), standard Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, and wireless smartphone charging. The mid-level SL model adds a 13-speaker Bose audio system, and the top-of-the-line Platinum trim features a rear-seat entertainment system with dual 8.0-inch screens.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Armada hasn’t been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, every model does have host of standard driver-assistance technology. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The Armada’s warranty coverages are more or less average. Nissan also doesn’t offer any complimentary scheduled maintenance, unlike the Tahoe and Yukon.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED: $61,435 (base price: $60,985)
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 339 cu in, 5552 cc
Power: 390 hp @ 5800 rpm
Torque: 394 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 121.1 in
Length: 208.9 in
Width: 79.9 in Height: 75.8 in
Passenger volume: 155 cu ft
Cargo volume: 17 cu ft
Curb weight: 5910 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 5.9 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 16.0 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 33.9 sec
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 6.1 sec
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 3.4 sec
Top gear, 50-70 mph: 4.7 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.7 sec @ 96 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 133 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 182 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.74 g*
EPA combined/city/hwy: 15/13/18 mpg
More Features and Specs
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