Upon strapping my 20-month-old toddler into her child-safety seat to embark on our first ride in the 2012 Nissan Armada, she instantly summed this SUV up by uttering a surprised, "Whoa!" Whoa was right; the Armada's enormous cabin space and extra-large dimensions had me saying the same thing.
The 2012 Nissan Armada is gigantic, and if you've got a big need for tons of room, it'll deliver without any problems.
If you have an active family with a few large toys in your arsenal, the Armada can haul them for you and keep everyone comfortable while doing it. If you have a large family, this three-row SUV can easily transport your big brood with its seating capacity of seven or eight. And, if you're just the social type, the Armada can be counted on for some serious carpool duty for not only your family but also a few extra friends.
One thing that takes a little getting used to is the ride. I'd say it's more in line with one of the rides at the county fair. Despite the powerful V-8 engine, it feels very heavy. The truth is, the Armada is a big ol' truck-based SUV, and you'll find that out a few seconds into your drive. This made for a few bumpy rides and really stressful parking lot situations. Thank goodness for the backup camera and parking sensors.
Another reason to say whoa about the Nissan Armada is its price: A base model starts at $40,865, including a $995 destination charge, but my Platinum 4x4 edition with leather seats, navigation and captain's chairs in the second row costs $55,850.
The Armada isn't exactly groundbreaking when it comes to its design, but nobody really buys a vehicle like it for its form; it's all about how it can function. And function it does, thanks to its big, boxy shape that makes door openings taller, the roofline higher and the cargo area more spacious.
At risk of sounding like a broken record, the Armada is huge. It can be intimidating for a meeker driver or problematic for those on the short side. At 5 feet 3 inches, I needed to use the handle inside the SUV to hoist myself into the driver's seat, and it was awkward to exit without using the running boards to step down on.
I also had to stand on tiptoes to get my daughter securely strapped into her child-safety seat. For kids who can usually enter a vehicle independently, they can get assistance by using the running boards for a step-up, but they'll probably need help opening the large, heavy doors. Even more likely, smaller children won't be able to reach the rear door handles, which are located higher on the side of the door, near the window.
Because of the Armada's boxy shape, the area inside the cabin is free of visibility issues. It has the ability to really pack it in, too. When the third row isn't in use, the cargo area is seemingly endless. I even had room to spare when I purchased a new dryer and loaded it into the back of the Armada. Bring on the double strollers, hit up your local warehouse store and volunteer to run the Little League snack shack with full confidence! My test car came with a power third row that made it easy to raise and lower the seats. Nissan couldn't have made it easier for me to use all the cargo space the Armada offers.
My test car also had the optional power liftgate. It was a necessity for me. I can't imagine trying to reach the open liftgate to close it.
Under the hood you'll find a powerful 317-horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8. It was extreme overkill during my week driving to and from the playground, but if you've got bigger toys to haul or you're heading out on some rough terrain, the Armada will have you covered. If you're in the market for this type of vehicle, you've already come to terms with fuel economy. The rear-wheel-drive Armada gets an EPA-estimated 13/19 mpg city/highway, and the all-wheel-drive model gets 12/18 mpg. It's a gas guzzler, but at least you can get by on regular gasoline.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
The space inside the Armada's cabin is staggering. It's one of the rare three-row vehicles that can realistically transport eight passengers. No one will feel cramped inside of the Armada. I was impressed by legroom every passenger is afforded on the inside, including those in the third row.
Three-seat benches for both the second and third rows are standard, but my upgraded Platinum Armada came with the optional second-row captain's chairs ($450). Though they lower the seating capacity to seven, the captain's chairs allow for easy access to the third row.
There's plenty of storage space inside the cabin. The front seats have two cupholders, bottleholders in the front doors and a large center console that not only fit my purse but it also holds the DVD player for the rear entertainment system, which is standard on the Platinum trim and optional on lower trims. The second row has its own air vents and a set of cupholders. My test car had a removable center console between the second-row captain's chairs that contained two additional cupholders and a bin that held my daughter's books and toys. The third row has two more cupholders that are built into the walls of the vehicle, as well as adjoining storage cutouts.
What's not so great about the Armada's interior is how behind the times it seems. Everything works, but it seems so antiquated, especially when considering my test car's sticker price of more than $55K! There was no USB input to power my smartphone while in the car; I could only use an MP3 jack to play music from my iPod. The navigation screen is dated and the graphics are tiny, but it did get me to my destinations.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
The 2012 Armada has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row's captain's chairs. The anchors were easy to access, thanks to small slits in the seat cushions. I was disappointed there were no Latch anchors to be found in the third row, though.
Standard safety features on the Armada are rear-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control, active front head restraints and six airbags, including side curtains that cover all three rows of seats. Four-wheel drive is optional.
The Armada has standard rear parking sensors, which are an absolute must. My Platinum-trimmed test car had a backup camera and front parking sensors, which I found essential when maneuvering such a large vehicle, especially in the close quarters of Los Angeles parking garages. It would've been nice to have a blind spot warning system, but it's not an option on any trim of the 2012 Armada.
The 2012 Armada earned three stars out of five in the rollover crash test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It hasn't undergone NHTSA's other crash tests, and it hasn't been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Get more safety information on the 2012 Nissan Armada here.