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    2018 Nissan Armada Drivers' Notes Review | SUV tradition in a velvet glove

      • 13 City / 18 Hwy (4WD)
      •   Base Price
      •   As Tested Price
      While it might not be as rugged as its Patrol cousin sold overseas, our 2018 Nissan Armada tester makes up for it in creature comforts. Leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel and a whole suite of driver assists, this Platinum-trim Armada combines the confidence of a Titan with much of the comfort of an Infiniti QX80. In addition to the standard equipment, our four-wheel-drive tester includes the second-row captain's chair package ($450) and carpeted floor and cargo mats ($310). In all, it rings up at $63,545, including destination charges.

      Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: The Armada is not really my cup of tea, and I wasn't going to drive it this week. On the ride into the office on Monday, though, the snow was coming down hard, and cars were in the ditch, on wreckers, some shiny-side down. Having flashbacks of getting briefly stuck where my driveway meets my crappily plowed road in a Cadillac ATS the week before, I signed up for the Nissan Armada instead of the rear-drive Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid for my drive home. My commute was a breeze.

      Despite being a huge monster, the view from the driver's seat of the Armada was great. A high seating position, relatively low beltline, big mirrors and massive windows all around, I had no problem making my way through rush hour traffic in the icy dark. Even better, the Armada Platinum comes with Nissan's Safety Shield suite and adaptive cruise control, acting like an extra set of eyes going down the road. Even in city traffic with no cruise control, the Armada was happy to brake early and smoothly, even bringing the vehicle to a complete stop without on its own without beeping and flashing lights in my face.

      It was a cozy ride. The interior is spacious, and the leather upholstery comfortable. I warmed up with the heated seats and steering wheel, and listened to a podcast via Bluetooth. The In addition to the smoothness of the adaptive cruise control (though there were two instances when I had to intervene when the Armada wasn't slowing down quickly enough), the ride was also surprisingly compliant. There was a little bit of road noise, but the sound of the V8 wasn't too intrusive either.

      The only thing that I had trouble getting past was the weird pleats in the leather on the door panel.

      Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: Man, this thing is classic body-on-frame SUV through and through. Walking up to it is like approaching a Clydesdale, and I feared it wouldn't be as easy to maneuver. Fortunately, some of the traditional SUV characteristics actually make it fairly easy to thread through the city. As John mentioned, visibility is excellent. Even putting the seat as low as possible, you're still sitting up high, and you're looking through tall, upright glass all-around. The corners are easy to spot, and the steering is very light, so you don't have to wrestle it in slow motion to drive it.

      It does take some flailing though when making sharp turns because of the steering's remarkably slow ratio. That plus the steering's lightness and lack of feel keep this truck from feeling even remotely quick and sporty. But something this big probably shouldn't be making sudden movements anyway. At least the suspension is tuned such that it doesn't wallow and roll too much in corners.

      Speaking of the suspension, the Armada's ride is quite good. It absorbs bumps very well, and it's impressively quiet. Even the tires didn't transmit much sound over imperfections. You can still hear the V8 under the hood, though, and it's a sweet sounding thing. But it could probably use a bit more torque (or less weight to lug around). It tended to rev pretty high when brisk acceleration was requested, and the pace it returned wasn't actually that brisk. The transmission is sluggish to shift, but at least it's smooth.

      The interior also shared some traditional SUV quirks. The tall greenhouse and short dash definitely helped with visibility, and Nissan has included a sufficient amount of wood and soft leather. But the ergonomics are a bit awkward. It's a bit of a stretch to the controls on the center stack, especially the touch screen, and any knobs closer to the passenger. Also, for some reason, the climate controls are way at the bottom, even below the CD player controls, which is inconvenient, especially when sitting so high up.

      I can't speak to the Armada's off-road abilities, but at least on-road, it's a solid, unexceptional drive that's sure to be appreciated by SUV die-hards. But for average buyers, a more modern, unibody, possibly car-based crossover may actually provide a better everyday experience.

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