Overview

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Overview (Final Score: C)

Like most big truck-based sport utilities, the Armada fits a specific need and lifestyle, with strengths and weaknesses to match. The 2018 Armada remains a favorite of ours for a lot of reasons, including its affordability (considering the package) and capability.

For the consumer who needs people hauling, stuff hauling, trailer pulling and off-road capability, the 2018 Nissan Armada is a definite fit. The Armada was redesigned last year and carries over with few changes into the 2018 model year. Its upscale interior, strong presence and useful design are all intact. So are its fuel-hungry ways and iffy third-row space.

The 2018 Armada now has NissanConnect telematics, hands-free text messaging, more USB ports and an 8-inch touchscreen display as standard equipment. Also available this year is a new rearview mirror that becomes a rearview camera screen so the driver can "see through" objects inside the vehicle for a clear view of what's behind the big SUV, while driving or parking.

The 2018 Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV with seating for up to eight. There is one engine/transmission option in either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. Three trim levels for the Armada are available, starting with the SV and moving through SL to Platinum.

What We Love About the 2018 Nissan Armada:


  • Powertrain is very well done for¬†a big SUV

  • Interior design is excellent and very upscale

  • The third row is usable and accessible


 

What We Don't Love About the 2018 Nissan Armada:


  • Fuel economy is far below par

  • Cargo space is not as good as some and can be difficult

  • Infotainment is falling behind the curve


 

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Exterior View (9/10)

The full-size sport utility segment is made up of big, square-bodied truck-based vehicles like the 2018 Nissan Armada. The Armada, which shares a lot of its components and design with the Infiniti QX80 luxury SUV, is one of the more upscale-appearing SUVs in the segment. It carries a strong air about it, while holding refinement as a core value.

The large front grille, big wheel wells with plenty of clearance, and high ground clearance are all truck-based inheritances. Yet the body style of the Armada has some curved edges, rounded corners, and sleek lines to give it a less burly and more black-tie feel.

This creates a muscular, but refined feel that is appealing and powerful. For that, the 2018 Armada stands out in the full-size SUV segment.

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Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (8/10)

The interior of the 2018 Nissan Armada is very upscale and well done. A high materials quality and excellent design and feel are high marks for the Armada. It's both spacious and comfortable, with a few caveats.

The driver's controls are well laid out, with a good ergonomic feel to them. The Armada has good front seating with plenty of adjustability and strong comfort. The driver is treated to very good visibility and the optional rearview mirror which can see through the interior to the rear (via a camera whose output replaces the mirror's surface), aids this tremendously.

In the second row, things are still very good. The second-row bench has a nice design with plenty of room for three across. It can be replaced with two captain's chairs in the Platinum edition, but those kill some of the Armada's usefulness for cargo.

The third row is good for kids and can be used by adults for short trips, but isn't recommended for more than that. The seats are low to the floor and legroom is limited. The seats fold flat for cargo space, but otherwise limit the cargo space. With the third row folded, there is an ample 49.9 cubic feet of room available and there is a huge 95.4 cubic feet with both the second and third rows folded.

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Here's where the second row captain's chairs begin to cause issues. With the captain's chairs, only two can sit in the second row, requiring the third row be used if there is another passenger to haul. That, in turn, limits cargo space. For example, we took three kids fishing and had the second-row captain's chairs plus one of the third-row seats up. Getting the folding chairs, snack bag, cooler, fishing gear, etc. into the Armada was not easy despite its huge size.

With the captain's chairs, a large armrest is placed between those two seats. This armrest does not move, so when seats are folded down for cargo storage, that console sticks up between them, making loading things flat a bit of an issue.

These are downsides that anyone considering the 2018 Armada should consider before opting for the captain's chairs in the second row. With a standard bench in the back (which is split-fold), those issues are not as much of a concern.

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Technology (7/10)

The 2018 Nissan Armada comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen that utilizes Nissan's latest infotainment interface. This is a good, functional system that covers the basics very well. Connecting a phone or device is quick and the system comes standard with navigation and Bose stereo system.

There aren't many upgrades for the infotainment itself, which lacks some things we'd like to see like in-vehicle WiFi and better app connectivity. There is a rear seat entertainment system available that adds 7-inch monitors for the second row, a DVD player and two wireless headphones. The headphones can listen to whatever is playing via the entertainment or infotainment system, though parents should be warned that the remote control can override the infotainment system and change what everyone in the vehicle might be listening to.

Fuel Economy (6/10)

The greatest weak point for the 2018 Armada is its fuel economy. As with the luxurious QX80, the Armada takes hits from both sides, having both a thirsty engine and a small fuel tank, making stops to refuel more frequent.

The EPA rates the 2018 Armada at 16 mpg combined, getting 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway in rear-wheel drive models. Four-wheel drive models lose a point on each of those ratings. Both estimates are well below segment norms.

On the road, the 2018 Nissan Armada averaged only 13 mpg in our week with the 4WD model.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (7/10)

The 2018 Armada received a reliability rating of only "About Average" from the annual Vehicle Dependability Study by J.D. Power and Associates. Although Nissan offers a class-leading warranty, the lack of a good response from the study compels us to rate it lower than last year when it had no estimates yet.

Safety (6/10)

The 2018 Nissan Armada received good marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA gave the Armada 3 out of 5 stars in its frontal crash ratings, 5 of 5 stars for side crash ratings, and 3 of 5 stars for rollover.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet rated the Armada.

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Performance (10/10)

The full-size 2018 Armada offers a lot of under-hood excellence. The 5.6-liter V8 engine that propels it attaches to a strong seven-speed automatic transmission in a setup that is shared with the big Titan pickup truck. This engine produces solid muscle at 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This gives the Armada a towing capacity of 8,500 pounds and a lot of oomph early on in the RPM curve.

The 2018 Nissan Armada has solid acceleration and good road dynamics. It's also remarkably maneuverable for its size. When towing, the Armada doesn't struggle much thanks to the low ratios in the early gears of its transmission. The four-wheel drive Armada offers serious off-pavement credibility thanks to good ground clearance and plenty of off-road strengths inherited from the related Patrol model.

We like the way the Armada handles itself and see it as one of the best in this segment for that quality. It drives well, pulls well and has plenty of capability all around.

Pricing and Value (8/10)

The 2018 Armada is expensive compared to other SUVs in the full-size segment, but offers a lot more at its base level than most competitors do. At the mid-tier, compared to others similarly equipped, the Armada is often on par or better in price compared to contemporaries. Given the usable third row, great capability of its engine, and strong drive dynamic, the Armada is often the better of its peers in a side-by-side comparison.

We think the Armada is one of the better values in the full-size SUV segment, though others have it beat in resale value and other points.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (61/80, 76%)

There are strong competitors in the full-size SUV segment, but the 2018 Armada stands up tall against them. The Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon twins are best-sellers, but they have many of the same faults as the Armada without some of its upscale benefits. The Ford Expedition is a strong competitor, offering a lot of excellence for the buck. It's what we'd cross-shop the closest if considering an Armada.

We really like the 2018 Nissan Armada, but feel that most buyers are not likely going to really need what it has to offer. Frankly, the full-size SUV segment is much narrower in reality than it is in the market and most buyers should be looking at crossovers rather than these truck-based utilities. That said, the Armada is a strong choice and we'd never bemoan anyone for making it.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
SUV - AWD
SV 4x4 SV 8 Cylinder AWD 48990
SL 4x4 SL 8 Cylinder AWD 53750
Platinum 4x4 Platinum 8 Cylinder AWD 62090
SUV - RWD
SV 4x2 SV 8 Cylinder RWD 46090
SL 4x2 SL 8 Cylinder RWD 50850
Platinum 4x2 Platinum 8 Cylinder RWD 59190

Comparison of 2018 Nissan Armada with Similar Cars

2018 Nissan Armada MSRP Invoice
2018 Nissan Armada $46,090 $42,771
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2018 Chevrolet Tahoe $47,500 $44,650 2018 Nissan Armada VS 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe
2018 Lexus RX 350 $43,470 $40,644 2018 Nissan Armada VS 2018 Lexus RX 350
2018 GMC Yukon $49,100 $46,154 2018 Nissan Armada VS 2018 GMC Yukon
2018 Acura MDX $44,200 $41,493 2018 Nissan Armada VS 2018 Acura MDX
2018 Infiniti Qx60 $43,300 $40,269 2018 Nissan Armada VS 2018 Infiniti Qx60

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2018 Nissan Armada ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2018 Nissan Armada rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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