2008 Nissan Armada LE 4×4 Review | The Truth About Cars

7 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2008 Nissan Armada LE 4×4 Review | The Truth About Cars
Nissan Armada

2008 Nissan Armada LE 4#215;4 Review

Nissan wants you to buy the Armada LE 4#215;4 to Live Big. Someone needs to tell these guys that conspicuous consumption is dead#8211; at least for those car buyers who can no longer afford it. While the high and low ends of the SUV market are still relatively robust, big-ass trucks in the former sweet spot are giving potential buyers a toothache. It may have something to do with the price of gas. Or ruinous depreciation.

Which is a shame. The Nissan Armada is a damn Skippy good truck; you know, if you used to like that kind of thing.

The Armada is a paid-up subscriber to the Japanese school of design. Small details rule. The rounded arches over the Armada#39;s doors look cool. Hidden rear door handles get props.

Now, take a step back#8230; Another one#8230; NOW you can see that those bulging fenders are more Mitsubishi Starion shazzam than Audi Quattro cool. Who the Hell would be fooled into thinking the Armada only has two doors? And yes, that Nissan emblem on the grill really IS the size of a dinner plate.

Taken as a whole, the Armada is a mish-mash of bulky truck clichés. I#39;m not saying it#39;s derivative, but the Honda Pilot, Land Rover Discovery and Chevrolet Tahoe called. They want their everything back.

Climbing into the Armada#39;s cabin, I got lost. Tom Tom says turn left at the center arm rest, another left at the climate control, and you will arrive at the steering wheel. Nissan has upgraded the SUV#39;s cavernous interior to great effect.

Acres of dash are covered in sensually squidgy plastics in pleasant desert hues. Buttons still litter the center stack layout like scattered Lego, but a cool aluminum iDrive-like twist knob below an LCD screen makes access to ancillary systems easy.

The strip of ersatz timber separating the upper and lower dash and the silver plastic surrounding the Armada#39;s shifter are about as convincingly upmarket as $10 Prada sunglasses. Escaping the aesthetic affront presents its own set of challenges; access to the way back requires agility, persistence, experience and a ready supply of Shrek Band-Aids.

For the 2007 model year, Nissan upgraded the SUV#39;s 300bhp 5.6-liter V8 to a more robust 315bhp (or 317, depending on which promotional materials you read). This launches the Black Pearl-sized vessel from no-wake to an ocean-going 60mph in about 7.5 seconds. Unlike the Tundra-based Sequoia, the Titan-based Armada is in no hurry to prove the point.

The big Nissan#39;s tip-in is leisurely, and the five-speed slushbox likes any gear as long as it#39;s the one that delivers the best fuel economy.

Nissan Armada

Speaking of which, the Armada#39;s V8 is touted as the world#39;s most efficient 5.6-liter V8! AND the gigantic FlexFuel badges proclaim the truck#39;s E85 ability. Yes, well, you#39;d have to be a well-heeled corn grower to put up with 25 percent to 30 percent less fuel efficiency than the Armada#39;s normal 15mpg EPA combined cycle.

How Nissan made the Armada handle as well as the smaller XTerra amazes me. With nearly three tons of mass pushing at marginally adequate tires, the Armada rolls only slightly, hangs on, and never loses its composure. Broken pavement causes the front end to skip to the side, but control quickly returns.

Obviously, no one takes an Armada around a corner. But if you did, understeer rules the day. Still, you never feel as though the Nissan really WANTS to plow straight ahead into the nearest guard rail.

The options list included speed-sensitive steering. The only change I felt was a gentle transition from finger-twirling light, to not-quite-a-zombie on center helmsmanship. To feel the road in an Armada means pulling over and getting out.

Which, in a beast weighing 5675lbs, might take a while.

Off-road, the Armada reveals its true purpose: the school run. Dial the switch to 4#215;4 High, wait ‘til the light goes out and then#8230; fuhgeddaboutit. The standard running boards snag everything taller than forest squirrels. Grinning slightly at the amused salesman when we got high centered at the Land Rover off-road demo course, I engaged 4#215;4 Low, felt a shimmy and a crunch. And then the body quivered as the Armada scraped its belly off the obstacle.

Not exactly safari material.

Who cares? There are very few full-size SUVs that shouldn#39;t be something else. For the most part, these days, they are. Only their ancestors still roam the earth, sucking gas, threatening to squish all those funny-looking CUVs and the, what do they call them? Cars.

Still, if you#39;re one of those people who doesn#39;t know when to leave a party, the Armada is a solid choice. It#39;s comfy, safe (at least for you), tows stuff and, uh, that#39;s it.

Nissan Armada
Nissan Armada
Nissan Armada
Nissan Armada
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