2008 Nissan Armada SE 4×4 Flex-fuel Test Drive & Flex-fuel Vehicle Review – 2008 Nissan Armada 4WD SE Road Test

26 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2008 Nissan Armada SE 4×4 Flex-fuel Test Drive & Flex-fuel Vehicle Review – 2008 Nissan Armada 4WD SE Road Test
Nissan Armada

An alt fuel sleeper#8212;but no slacker

With 317 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque, the #8217;08 Armada cranks up the power with a 5.6-liter V-8 to navigate life in the E85 fast lane#8212;on or off-road. Look closely for that small white gas flap label that reveals flex-fuel compatibility, and then fill the 3-row seating with 8 passengers plus cargo for a family ride in this full-size SUV. Think secure, safe and snug.

Touting a base of $38,050, our Timberline SE was outfitted with the Driver Package and SE tow package for a grand total of $42,330, and #8217;08 EPA ratings of 12/17 and a 5-speed automatic transmission. Time to hit the road.

Initial Impression: Savvy, not stodgy

Christine: I#8217;ve never been much for the big ole SUVs#8212;I#8217;m much more of a sporty fun-to-drive type of gal. But I#8217;m all for comfort, and it only took five seconds in the driver#8217;s seat to know I would not have a hard time managing the Armada miles over the next week. It was big, but definitely not boring. And forget stale and stodgy#8212;this was lookin#8217; to be one savvy SUV.#8221;

Scott: #8220;I like the feel of lots of power, especially low-end grunt, and our Armada had that in spades. But just as much as I like power, I like efficiency and economy and I#8217;m of the opinion that they don#8217;t have to be mutually exclusive.#8221;

Look feel: Equipped for whatever life throws your way

The elbow room and the view from the cockpit is phenomenal.

photo #169; Adrian Gable

Hey, they just may have thought of it all. From the 8-way power-adjustable driver#8217;s seat and standard dual zone climate control to the third row seating that places travelers a notch higher than the second row for improved visibility and conversation, Nissan has upped the ante on necessity#8212;or perhaps just first-rate daily comfort. And talk about storage.

Christine#8217;s organizational guru kicked into full gear when she discovered more storage cubbies in this vehicle than any other she ever laid eyes#8212;or hands#8212;upon. Of course, load #8216;er up with kids and those nifty little fold-outs and fold-downs are sure to be stuffed with more than sunglasses and maps. And that#8217;s not even counting the 14 cupholders and four 12-volt power outlets.

If there was ever a vehicle that screamed emergency preparedness, Armada is its name. With A-1 luxury.

Yep, there#8217;s nothing like looking out at the world when you#8217;re navigating from the all-powerful, make-it-happen seat of Armada control. Fold down the second and third rows and load up 97.1 cubic feet of cargo or just the week’s groceries. And that 11-speaker Bose stereo system was just the icing on the cake to make the miles easier.

Fuel-ability: Just plain stout

There is nothing shy about the Armada. The big V-8 lays down the power and yanks with an authoritative #8220;the power#8217;s here if ya need it#8221; attitude. And the exhaust note?

At idle the sound of the engine is barely perceptible, but dump the throttle and the deep rumble leaves no doubt about the engine#8217;s true colors: #8220;work me, work me hard,#8221; it says.

Our Armada was equipped with the dual-fuel (E85/gasoline) Endurance 5.6-liter V-8 that#8217;s built with several advanced features: the light-weight aluminum block is lined with cast iron cylinder sleeves for durability, and micropolished dual overhead camshafts operate 32 valves (4/cylinder) for deep breathing efficiency.

And just to make all the parts rotate and slide easier, the steel crankshaft is microfinished and the pistons are coated with friction reducing graphite. And even the transmission gets a dose of efficiency enhancement. Power churns through a 5-speed gearset that tops out in a .834:1 ratio, but we#8217;d honestly like to see that bumped to .75 or even .70 for better highway economy.

Kudos, though, for a refined torque converter that reduces slip and returns better engagement and fuel economy.

Nissan Armada

Another first-rate feature was the automatic AWD control system. In our opinion, vehicles that use full-time AWD waste fuel. In most driving conditions 2WD is sufficient and the engine is not labored with overcoming the friction and weight of the extra rotating mass of clutches and gears within the transfer case.

With Nissan#8217;s automatic system, AWD engages only when needed.

The Enviro-meter: Easy on the atmosphere, hard on the fuel

The only visible sign of the of the Armada’s flex-fuel status is a little white sticker affixed to the inside of the fuel door.

photo #169; Adrian Gable

As with most FFVs, mileage numbers drop with E85 as the fuel. We clocked 15.1 mpg on gasoline, but that dropped disappointingly to 12.2 mpg on E85. Part of this drop is caused by the lower energy content of ethanol, and part of it is caused by the compromise that a flex-fuel engine makes to be able to burn both gasoline and alcohol.

Injector pulse width (how long the injector sprays fuel) is increased to make up for the power loss incurred by ethanol#8212;and that uses more fuel. It has been our experience that larger engines incur more of a fuel economy penalty on E85 than do smaller engines, so the Armada#8217;s big V-8 doesn#8217;t help. However, since E85 is often 50 cents/gallon cheaper than gas, it pinches less.

All of Nissan#8217;s efforts to #8220;engineer in#8221; efficiency notwithstanding, the Armada#8217;s fuel economy is disappointing. Yes, it#8217;s a big, heavy (5600 lbs) vehicle, yet we can#8217;t help but feel that the engineers left some fuel economy on the table. Large V-8s are prime candidates for cylinder deactivation (shutting down half the engine at low load).

Once designed and instituted into the manufacturing process, the cost of this technology is relatively low and it can return fuel savings of 8 to 12 percent.

According to fueleconomy.gov, 15,000 miles per year on E85 will equate energy to 8.0 barrels of crude annually#8212;compared to 24.5 barrels for a conventionally fueled Armada. Likewise, greenhouse gas emissions for using E85 tally up to 11.1 tons/year, where the regular Armada will spew out a higher 13.1 tons/year.

Nissan Armada
Nissan Armada
Nissan Armada
Nissan Armada
Nissan Armada
Nissan Armada
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