What’s New – For 2008 Nissan has made significant changes to the interior of the Armada. Better quality materials make for a more luxurious cabin, and overall it’s a welcome upgrade from previous years.
Competes With: Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota Sequoia, Ford Expedition
What We Think – The Armada has a comfortable spacious interior and it’s quiet, especially for a truck. With a towing capacity of 9,000 pounds and the capability to carry almost 1,500 pounds of people and equipment, the Armada can also haul a lot of fun stuff.
Nissan Armada LE 4x4 – 2008 Review: Here in the Land of Plenty, we enjoy perhaps the widest variety of automobiles from which to choose as anywhere on the planet, including large sport utility vehicles. You know, the kind with plenty of space inside, and plenty of hauling and towing capacity. Unfortunately, there’s a trade-off: they consume lots of gasoline, which costs plenty of money.
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You can go down the list when considering the 2008 Nissan Armada and check the box next “Plenty” on every score. Like all large, four-wheel drive SUVs, plentiful economy isn’t one of its strong points. We can hope for the future – clean diesel or hybrid – but in the here and now those faced with the need for a large vehicle like this will have to pay at the pump. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that if you need a large SUV and can afford some luxury, the Armada LE does a good job of filling those qualifications. A spacious interior made from nice materials, 9,000 lbs. of towing capacity and nearly 1,500 lbs. of payload is a lot of utility. There are also plenty of the nifty features that buyers expect for $50,000, including a rear view monitor, navigation system and heated seats and steering wheel.
Models and Pricing
Nissan offers the 2008 Armada in two flavors, SE and LE, both of which can be purchased with four-wheel drive. Our LE 4x4 test vehicle carried an MSRP of $44,550, and with options the total came to $52,270, including a $745 destination charge. The LE already comes with the kind of standard features expected on an SUV in this price range, including heated side view mirrors, an 11-speaker Bose Audio system with six-disc CD changer and XM Satellite radio, dual zone climate control, rear audio and climate controls, leather seats and a rear-view monitor.
Notable features added as options include second-row captain’s chairs, which replace the 40/20/40 split bench with two seats and a center console. You lose the ability to carry that eighth passenger, but those seated in the second row get more elbow room and two more cupholders. Nice thing about this option? It’s free, although only available on the LE.
There’s a Premium Package that includes items we expected, such as memory for the driver’s seat, side mirrors and adjustable pedals; puddle lights on the outside mirrors and Bluetooth phone connection. The feature that jumped out was heated seats, which are standard on a lot of vehicles that aren’t as expensive as the Armada. Here, they’re in a $1,000 package. On the 2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited – the middle of three trim levels – they’re standard, as they are on the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe LT3.
The Technology Package includes navigation with a 9.3 GB music box hard drive and XM’s NavTraffic, which shows freeway speeds on the nav system map. Power folding third row seats and a heated steering wheel aren’t exactly high tech, but they’re part of it, too. All this techie goodness runs $2,400, so those who just want navigation without the rest might blanch at the price. The remaining options included rear seat entertainment, towing package, moonroof and some incidental items.
Under the Hood
Nissan uses the same 5.6-liter, V-8 engine in the 2008 Armada that powers the Titan pickup. It is a flex-fuel engine, capable of running on E85. With output of 317 horsepower and 385 lb.-ft. of torque, there is more than sufficient power to motivate the nearly 6,000 lbs. of curb weight that makes up the Armada. Likewise with the five-speed automatic overdrive transmission, which is electronically controlled and has tow and haul modes. The transfer case can be switched from two-wheel drive to automatic to four-wheel drive high and low.
The Armada has double-wishbone suspension front and back with stabilizer bars on both ends. Self-leveling rear suspension is standard on the LE model, an option on the SE. Dynamic stability control is standard on all models, as is four-wheel traction control on the 4WD models. Bringing the Armada to a stop are four-wheel antilock disc brakes equipped with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, which provides maximum brake boost in panic stops.
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The V-8 engine performs well and the automatic transmission performs flawlessly, with no hunting on long uphill climbs. The engine pulls strongly from just above idle all the way to redline, with plenty of torque for passing. Engine noise is muffled at cruising speed, but under acceleration the V-8 produces a nice growl.
Most of the time the Armada can be operated in Drive, but for those times when you need better acceleration, putting the shifter in 3 (third) will deliver more grunt. In stop-and-go freeway traffic, fourth gear got the big truck going a little more quickly than Drive and the increased engine-braking meant not doing the gas-brake-gas-brake dance as much. In Drive, the transmission shifts smoothly and doesn’t hunt for the right gear.
Of course, the most significant downfall of driving a large, heavy vehicle is that gas mileage is low. While the 2008 Armada carries an EPA rating of 12 mpg in the city and 17 on the highway, we observed 12.4 mpg on the trip computer. But when we calculated mileage for a tank of gasoline the old fashioned way, the figure dropped to 11.4 mpg.