When people think of big SUVs, they may think of the Chevrolet Tahoe or perhaps the Ford Expedition. But Nissan has offered its admirable Armada for some time now, and recently released a refreshed 2021 model that certainly should be in the running with the other full-size SUVs on the market.
The 2021 Nissan Armada Platinum Goes Big
Everything about this thing is big. Big V8 power, big amounts of space, big 22-inch wheels, a big 8,500 lb. towing capacity, and a big $70,000+ price tag for the Platinum trim level. I spent a week with the recently refreshed 2021 Nissan Armada, and it came up big — but also not so big — on a few things. Let’s look at the things I loved and hated about the 2021 Nissan Armada Platinum. Let’s start with some love, shall we?
We Love: V8 Power
It’s no shocker that a rig like this is powered by a gusty, 8-cylinder engine, and Nissan’s is nice! The 5.6L V8 is powerful, smooth, and quiet. Acceleration is brisk and responsive. Whether from a dead stop or passing slower traffic, the engine does not disappoint in the performance arena.
The direct-injection engine makes 400 hp and 413 lb.-ft. of torque and really scoots, with some sources citing 0-60 times under 6.0 seconds. Plus, it sounds good when it should and is hushed when it needs to be.
The mill is mated to a very compliant 7-speed automatic. All that power helps the 2021 Nissan Armada Platinum achieve a hefty 8,500 lb. towing capacity, too. So whether you’re hauling a boat, travel trailer, or something else, you’ll be able to get the job done easily.
We Hate: V8 Fuel Economy
Yes, all that V8 goodness comes at a price: fuel economy. This SUV is rated at 13 city, 18 highway, and 15 combined mpg. During my week with the vehicle, I averaged 14.8 mpg.
With the price of fuel on the rise, the cost to gas up this beast is only getting more and more expensive. Then again, if you’re spending over $70,000 on a vehicle like the 2021 Nissan Armada Platinum, perhaps your gas bill isn’t top of mind. Regardless, the Armada swills gasoline.
We Love: Exterior Style
When Nissan debuted the second-generation Y62 Armada in 2017, I thought it looked pretty darn good. The 2021 model further updates the SUV’s modern, sophisticated, yet rugged style. Both the front and rear were reshaped for a more updated look.
Nissan didn’t go overly futuristic and maintains a great mix of urban chic and off-road grit in the latest Armada. It gets massive gunmetal 22-inch wheels on 275/50R22 tires that are nearly 33-inches in diameter. Add to it the dynamic Hermosa Blue Pearl paint job, and you’ve got a very well-appointed, handsome SUV.
We Hate: Interior Style
For all the good looks the vehicle has on the outside, the inside style doesn’t match. It’s got a lot going on: optional quilted seats, leather ruching on the door panels, a two-tone, black-and-brown dash, white stitching, and wood trim that reminded me of a lacquer bedroom set from the 1980s. It’s just too much.
Some of the materials — hard plastics, a not-so-soft soft-touch dash, and some of the tops on the center consoles — also felt inexpensive. The 2021 Nissan Armada Platinum has an MSRP of $70,465, but some components didn’t feel like it. The overall interior style just didn’t do it for me.
We Love: Loads of Comfort
Okay, so the interior may look a bit gaudy, but it sure is comfortable. Even at interstate speeds of 70-75 mph, the Armada’s interior was whisper quiet. Wind noise was almost non-existent. Road noise, even on Oregon’s course aggregate, was hushed. The V8 is smooth and offers low noise/vibration/harshness levels.
The fully-independent suspension soaked up bumps and provided a plush ride. The heated and air-conditioned front seats, heated leather steering wheel, very good sound system, and excellent visibility all added to the quality of the ride.
Middle seat occupants also have heated seats, monitors in the headrests with aux, USB, and HDMI inputs as well as headsets and a remote. Plus, the rear center console showcases USB-C, USB, 120V, and 12V plug-ins.
Apart from the fuel economy, this SUV could be one of the best long-distance road trip vehicles on the market. There is a third-row, but it’s best left folded down. I’m not going to let that ultra-cramped space ruin this “love” section!
We Hate: Drives Bigger Than It Is
Listen, I’ve driven plenty of big trucks. But for whatever reason, the 2021 Nissan Armada Platinum feels way bigger than it really is. I was constantly being reminded of how wide the Armada is thanks to the lane-departure warning system. Whether the Armada was lumbering around town or sailing down a highway, I was regularly reminded of its size by the vibrating steering wheel.
It feels big, but unnecessarily so sometimes. The long, tall hood also made the vehicle a challenge to park (ask me how I know). Thank God it has cameras everywhere and a very good 360-degree bird’s eye view to park this land yacht. I’m okay driving big vehicles, but this one feels bigger than it should be.
We Love: Cargo Space
If you’ve read this far, you can clearly see there is a lot of comparison and contrast going on here, and it’s going to continue. Though the rig is big — and not always in a good way — its cargo-carrying ability is fantastic.
That rear penalty box of a third-row folds flat thanks to two switches that electrically fold those seats away providing vast cargo space. This area swallowed up four wheels and tires I was selling without even flinching.
You could fit a family of four in this vehicle ultra comfortably along with enough gear for everyone and then some. Heck, with its 8,500 lb. towing capacity, you could bring so much stuff that you could live full-time out of this thing in comfort.
Add to all that the Armada’s gargantuan front center console, a massive rear center console, an ample glove box, lots of cup holders, and even some rear storage areas, and you have plenty of places to put nearly anything you’d want.
We Love: A Capable 4WD SUV
You know what? I’m a lover, not a hater. So let’s add some more love, shall we? The Nissan Armada is sold as the Patrol in other markets, such as Australia and the Middle East. And the Patrol is an iconic 4WD vehicle that ranks right up there with the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Nissan is no stranger to making capable, tough 4WD vehicles, and despite the 22-inch wheels and yards of leather upholstery, this rig’s underpinnings make for a capable vehicle. The Armada is built using stout body-on-frame construction — great for towing and off-roading.
It also has a two-speed transfer case for when the trail gets tough. You’ve got 2WD, 4WD high, and 4WD low so you’ll be able to get out of more difficult situations. Granted, the Armada uses a fully independent suspension system, so it’s still vastly more capable than most of its drivers will ever need. But kudos to Nissan for keeping this thing capable and true to its original spirit, which is just one more reason to love this big SUV.