More Than Just One Big Boat: The 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve 4WD

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve 4WD
The 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve 4WD.
Webster's defines "armada" as "a fleet of warships".  Nissan's largest SUV kinda comes off that way.  Describing it as a "boat" somehow feels inadequate. 

That's both bad and good.  Bad because it looks and feels like something from an earlier era of SUV, one before the double-whammy of the recession and high gas prices ten years ago prompted redesigns of full-size SUVs that emphasized (relative) lightness and efficiency.  Good, because, in this era of car-based crossovers, anyone who longs for the good old days of a truck-based full-sized rig will likely have the Armada on his or her short list.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve 4WD
2018 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve 4WD.
Nissan's making the most of its 2018 Armada, offering four different trim levels in either two-or-four-wheel drive, all with a 5.6-liter V8 making 390 horsepower and a seven-speed automatic transmission.  EPA mileage estimates, as you might imagine, are on the low side...14 city/19 highway for two-wheel drive, 13/15 for four-wheel drive.  The last time we reviewed an Armada was the 2011 model, which the EPA said was good for 12 city/18 highway.  So, only a little progress in the city and a big step backward on the highway.

Those eight different models (SV, SL, Platinum and Platinum Reserve in two-or-four-wheel drive) have widely varying pricing.  The two-wheel drive SV's base price is $46,090.  Our tester, the top-of-the-line Platinum Reserve 4WD starts at $65,090.  Not only is that a chunk of change, but it puts the Armada right up against its upscale cousin, the Infiniti QX80, which starts, in four-wheel-drive form, at $67,850. 

Interior view of 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve 4WD
2018 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve 4WD.
The good news for the Armada buyer is that's pretty much the starting and ending price, apart from $1,295 destination charges, while the Infiniti can be optioned up to the mid-and-upper 80-thousand dollar range.

Nissan Intelligent Rear View Mirror
Nissan Intelligent Rear View Mirror.
New for 2018, and a first for any Nissan vehicle, is the Intelligent Rear View Mirror (I-RVM).  It's a standard rear-view mirror, but push a switch at the bottom and it becomes a monitor connected to a high-resolution camera at the back of the vehicle.  The advantage is that when the rear window is dirty or subjected to glare or weather conditions, the camera gives a clearer view of what's behind you.

Cool mirror.  But what about the SUV around it?

Well, TireKicker was founded ten years ago on the principle that every vehicle is the right vehicle for someone.  We can think of a lot of full-size SUVs that handle better, and are more space and fuel-efficient.  But, the Armada had its best sales month in its 13-year history...and by a large margin...last month (June, 2018).  And the sales figures have been, with the exception of one or two months, the best in a decade since the current generation hit showroom floors in the fall of 2016.   It sells only about a third as many copies as the best-selling Chevy Tahoe, but there's clearly a market for Armadas.