The 2021 Nissan Armada doesn’t get a total overhaul in its mid-cycle refresh — but the much-needed improvements have made a big impact on this full-size SUV.
It’s the little things: a modernized interior, newly integrated trailer brake controller and a bit more power out of the standard V-8. The result is a family hauler that has a lot to offer. But ignored in this refresh is the Armada’s serious lack of interior space. Competitors like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition offer all-around comfort, but the Armada is really only suited to seat children in the way-way-back.
Cars.com news editor Brian Normile’s review (click the related link above) has just about everything a buyer needs to know about this SUV before it hits dealerships in late January. Or, here are the pros and cons of the 2021 Nissan Armada in a more bite-sized package:
1. Rugged New Look
In its second-generation, the Armada takes on a rugged vibe, with more plastic cladding and a boxier silhouette. It’s also the first production vehicle to feature Nissan’s new badge on its signature V-Motion grille.
2. Modern Controls
Gone is the scattered mess of buttons and knobs; the latest Armada has traded them in for a more streamlined control panel with touch-sensitive controls. A 12.3-inch touchscreen offers a larger, clearer display for multimedia and navigation.
3. Second-Row Comfort
The second row has adequate legroom and headroom, enough for most adult passengers. The top Platinum trim gets comfortable captain’s chairs in the second row, which give passengers full command of the center storage console and rear entertainment system.
4. Safety Shield
Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 includes advanced safety features like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, a lane departure warning system and blind spot warning with collision avoidance and rear cross-traffic alert. Features in the Platinum model hold up to the name; a 360-degree camera system comes standard on the top trim.
5. Towing Capabilities
Maximum towing capacity is 8,500 pounds, which is plenty for a small trailer or toy hauler. The 2021 Armada also comes with an integrated trailer brake controller — a welcome improvement. Past models simply came prewired for the buyer to add an aftermarket one.
1. Multimedia Functionality
The multimedia system is not without its quirks. A lot of features only use two-thirds of the display. Native navigation gets the full real estate, but almost everything else — including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — has to share. There are 10 options of what to display on the smaller side of the screen, like a clock, turn-by-turn directions or the weather forecast. But none of these seem so important as to constantly take up so much of the display.
2. Transmission Delay
The only available engine, a 5.6-liter V-8, is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission that seems a little reluctant to do its job at times. The V-8 now makes 400 horsepower, up from 390 hp in the outgoing model (but only if you use premium gas; use regular 87-octane and you’ll get the same 390 hp), so you do get a lot of power. The problem is that the transmission won’t always downshift to let you tap into that power right away. The delay is most evident when passing.
3. Gas Mileage
Based on Nissan’s estimates, fuel economy ratings for the 2021 model will be the same as previous generations: 14/19/16 mpg city/highway/combined for rear-wheel-drive Armadas and 13/18/15 mpg for the four-wheel drive version. However, competitors get up to 4 more miles to a gallon. Compare their EPA ratings here.
4. Cramped Third Row
The roomy second row gives way to a third row that’s sized more for children than adults. This is a disappointment, considering many competing SUVs can comfortably seat adults in the back row.
More From Cars.com:
- 2021 Nissan Armada Refresh: More Plush, More Punch
- 2020 Nissan Armada: What’s Changed
- Research the Nissan Armada
- Which 3-Row SUVs Offer Captain’s Chairs?
- These 10 SUVs Have the Highest Towing Capacity
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