The 2018 Nissan Armada is overkill of the best sort

The Armada is one of the most expensive Nissans on the market, but it's a lot of SUV for the price.

The Nissan Armada is overkill for winter driving conditions...in the best way possible.
The Nissan Armada is overly capable of handling winter driving conditions. –George Kennedy

The 2018 Nissan Armada is overkill, and the roads of New England are better for it. The Armada is in its sophomore year of a second generation. The first-generation felt like an enclosed version of the Titan pickup, and that’s mostly because it was.

This long-due replacement is once again based on a platform shared with the Titan, but it finally differentiates itself. Yes, the new Titan is more refined, but the Armada feels more like the Infiniti QX80, its  luxury counterpart, more than ever before. In fact, the Armada is basically a re-badged version of the Patrol, an upscale SUV commonly found in the Middle East.

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Climbing into the Armada, you quickly realize how elevated you are off the road. Your eye level is closer to that of big-rig divers than the lowly Honda Fit scattering along below. Luckily, the Armada provides ample visibility to see all these smaller vehicles.

Despite its massive size, the power driver’s seat does not slide far enough back for my long legs to fully extend, as they would in a Suburban. But the second row more than makes up for it, with plenty of rear legroom.

The Armada has an upscale cabin, similar to that of the related Infiniti luxury brand. —George Kennedy

In the cabin, the Armada features an upscale feel. The layout isn’t as clear as other modern vehicles, but it has some of the hand-me-down class of Infiniti vehicles from the past few years.

Boston.com Dealer Specials:

Trims for the 2018 Armada are SV, SL, Platinum, and Platinum Reserve, like our test model. The base SV is loaded up with new standard features, including 18-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, dark painted roof rails, heated front seats, Bose 13-speaker stereo, and a standard 8-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation system.

Platinum Reserve, which could be the best trim name on a new car, boasts heated second-row seats, heated and cooled front-row seats, a heated steering wheel, 20-inch alloy wheels, power sunroof, and leather upholstery. It also includes high-tech safety gear, such as blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision avoidance, lane-departure warning, and intelligent backup intervention, which will brake the vehicle if it senses you’re getting too close to an object.

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Nissan is partial to using its 5.6-liter V8 in trucks and large SUVs, including the Armada. In this application, it makes 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. Power is routed through a new seven-speed automatic to the rear wheels, or available four-wheel drive.

The Armada makes more than enough power, and jumps off the line in a way that no twin-turbo V6 can replace. The V8 just has that telltale “lurch” that gives the Armada the “truck feel” that many buyers of large SUVs actually want.

The Armada features strong, accurate brakes — and despite its size — decent cornering and a respectable turning radius.

The 2018 Nissan Armada has an imposing presence from any angle. —George Kennedy

One major setback is fuel economy: The four-wheel-drive version of the Armada returns an EPA-estimated 13 miles per gallon in the city, 18 on the highway, and 15 combined. In our time of mostly city driving, we barely scraped 10 miles per gallon. Drivers of big SUVs have pretty much come to expect these kinds of numbers. Those same owners will be pleased with the Armada’s 8,500-pound towing capacity, which is at least 1,000 pounds more than its closest competition.

Base MSRP for the 2018 Nissan Armada is $45,600. Four-wheel drive brings the price to $48,500. An SL trim starts at $50,850, and a Platinum starts at $59,190. Our range-topping 4×4 Platinum Reserve clocked in at $63,485.

That’s quite a hefty sum to pay for a Nissan, but consider that the QX80 starts at $64,750 and can cost more than $82,000 with full options. But with the Armada in the lineup, you almost don’t need the QX80 — that’s how opulent and capable the Armada really is.

Under the Hood

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Engine: 5.6-liter V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic transmission
Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
Power: 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque
Towing Capacity: 8,500 pounds
Also Consider: Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, GMC Yukon