2009 Nissan Armada Expert Review

You'll Like The 2009 Nissan Armada If...

If your kids are all about high-tech gadgetry and love on-board toys, the Armada has you covered. An exceptionally powerful V8 is standard – great news for those who need to tow. Standard safety features include side-curtain airbags for all three rows.

You May Not Like The 2009 Nissan Armada If...

Did we mention this thing is big? The Armada can be a handful to park in tight spaces, though not any more difficult than its competitors. The fuel economy may also be a discouraging factor, and there is no diesel engine option.

What's New

Last year's LE Preferred Package, which features heated seats, power rear quarter windows, power folding mirrors and Bluetooth, is now standard on the LE. Also standard on the LE is the tow package, which includes a seven-pin wiring harness, 3.357:1 axle ratio, larger battery and auto-leveling rear suspension.

Interior Features

Nissan offers the spacious Armada with an excellent set of optional second-row captain's chairs that are separated by a removable center console. With the console out, passengers are granted easy access to the third-row seat without having to disturb those already seated in the second row. The rear-most bench seat rests on an elevated platform that allows its occupants to see over the heads of those up front. With the seats folded, there is room for quite lengthy items of cargo, even with the rear hatch closed. Safety features include side-curtain air bags covering all three rows.

Exterior Features

The Armada is one of the most ornate SUVs we've seen. It has a raised roof, arched door frames and huge side fender flares. The rear-door handles are placed high up, making them difficult for small children to reach. Short front and rear overhangs make the Armada a bit easier to maneuver than some of its competition. The broad expanse of glass allows for good 360-degree visibility, and the big side mirrors do a good job of revealing smaller objects near the Armada's sides. On LE models, these same mirrors are available with power folding and auto-dimming features. The LE also comes with 20-inch wheels that look great but can be pricey if needing replacement.

Driving Impressions

On the road you'll find the Armada behaves more like a midsize truck than the gargantuan SUV it really is. The steering feel is taut and the Armada's short front overhang makes it possible to maneuver around closer corners with confidence. So long as the road remains fairly smooth the Armada maintains a very livable ride, but upon the first encounter with large dips or shaky, uneven pavement, the Armada's truck-oriented roots quickly become more evident. In any case, once you feel the power that the Armada's standard 5.6-liter V8 provides, you'll quickly forget any minor shudder or momentary vibration you've just encountered. With a whopping 317 horsepower on tap, the Armada does not lack for performance or towing power.

Pricing Notes

The two-wheel-drive Armada SE lists for just under $37,000, while the same model with four-wheel drive will be just over $39,500 and a loaded four-wheel-drive LE is in the region of $54,000. A look at the Fair Purchase Price page shows the typical transaction price paid for an Armada in your area, so be sure to check it out before you begin negotiations. Also be sure to check the Incentives tab to see what deals the manufacturer may be offering. In the all-important world of resale, the Armada is projected to retain an average residual value, similar to that of the Chevrolet Suburban and just above that of the Ford Expedition, but well below the value retained by the Toyota Sequoia.

Notable Equipment

The Armada has a 317-horsepower V8 engine, five-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), front and rear air conditioning, floor- and ceiling-mounted consoles, Vehicle Dynamic Control, rear privacy glass, dual power heated outside mirrors, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, power-adjustable pedals, AM/FM stereo with six-disc in-dash CD changer with MP3 capability, front and rear head-curtain airbags (covering all three rows), running boards, eight-way power driver's seat, cruise control, tire-pressure monitor and a rear wiper and washer.

Notable Options

Options vary by trim and include four-wheel drive, rear-seat DVD entertainment, front side-impact airbags, heated leather steering wheel, Intelligent Key with twist start, navigation, RearView Monitor, power glass moon roof, heated leather seats, power passenger seat, power folding 60/40 third-row seat, XM Satellite Radio, Bose audio and a tow package.

Favorite Features

Rear Seat Design
The Armada's versatile rear-seat design includes fold-flat seats that create a level loading floor.

Standard Head-Curtain Airbags
The Armada's standard head-curtain airbags cover all three rows of seating.

Under the Hood

Nissan equipped the Armada with its most powerful V8 engine and the results are impressive. Tow rated at 9,100-pounds (with the available Tow Package), the Armada credits itself well in maximum towing capacity among lighter-duty, full-size SUVs.

5.6-liter V8
317 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
385 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18 (gasoline, 2WD), 12/18 (gasoline, 4WD), 9/13 (E85, 2WD), 9/13 (E85, 4WD)

Editors' Notes

When the Nissan Armada first debuted in 2004, full-size SUVs were all the rage and it commanded a premium price. Fast-forward to the 2009 model year, and the looming specter of five-dollar-per-gallon gasoline has changed the landscape. Still, for those undaunted by $100-plus refills, the Armada has much to offer. It features a powerful V8 engine capable of running on regular gas or E85, a tow rating of up to 9,100 pounds and enough interior room to fit eight passengers and their luggage. The Armada's unconventional styling may not be to everyone's liking, but its long list of creature comforts and standard safety features are certainly attractive, as are Nissan's enticing customer incentives.

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