The Nissan Armada Platinum Proves You Don't Need An Infiniti

Opinion / 8 Comments

Seriously, the two are nearly identical.

Mainstream automakers rebranding and reworking their products for a luxury audience is nothing new. Toyota has Lexus, Honda has Acura, Ford has Lincoln, and Nissan has Infiniti (just to name a few). Sometimes these luxury brands offer vehicles that are vastly different than the products sold by their non-premium counterparts with different engines, drivetrains, or even platforms. The Lexus IS 500 is a great example with no comparable Toyota counterpart.

In other cases, the luxury-branded model shares a great deal with the mainstream model, and no case seems more glaring than the 2022 Nissan Armada and 2022 Infiniti QX80.

CarBuzz recently spent a week in each of these vehicles, and despite a $20,000 price difference (base-to-base), we honestly can't explain why anyone would opt for the QX80. These two SUVs are so similar, they share an engine, transmission, features, and more. Especially compared to the well-equipped Armada Platinum trim, we honestly don't believe there's any reason why the QX80 needs to exist.

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Pricing: Cheaper Than The Cheapest QX80

Nissan charges $49,500 for the basic Armada S trim with rear-wheel drive, making it the cheapest full-size SUV in the mainstream segment. The S trim isn't exactly luxurious, and there's a substantial gap between it and the top Platinum trim. A fully-loaded Armada Platinum with 4WD (a $3,000 option) starts at $68,900, which is a bargain compared to the Infiniti. An entry QX80 Luxe costs $71,100, but it lacks many of the features found on the top Armada, such as cooled front seats and quilted leather. In fact, a similarly-equipped QX80 Sensory will run $85,835, a full $16,935 more than the Armada.

Surely that price premium includes more features and luxury, right? Well, reading over the spec sheets with a fine-tooth comb, the QX80 gets semi-aniline leather (which is slightly nicer than Nissan's leather), a 17-speaker Bose audio system (compared to 13 speakers in the Armada), and a Hydraulic Body Motion Control System. If those three options are worth a well-equipped Nissan Versa-sized price increase to you, then by all means, buy the QX80.

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Styling: Personal Preference

Nissan recently facelifted the Armada for the 2021 model year, improving the styling and adding the new corporate badge. Though the Armada is now the oldest vehicle in its class, this substantial facelift did wonders, making this SUV look fresher than its bones would suggest. As for the QX80, it too received a minor update for the 2021 model year, though it still looks mostly the same as it did back in 2017. Some buyers might prefer the QX80's flashier grille and sharper headlights, though a case could also be made for the Armada's more macho front fascia. Even if, for argument's sake, we admit the QX80 is the prettier of the two, we don't think it's $15,000-$20,000 prettier.

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Interior: Better Than Okay

Stepping inside both vehicles, it's tough to see why the QX80 costs so much more than the Armada. It's got higher quality leather, sure, but the Armada's seat don't exactly feel cheap. The QX80 gets more quilted leather on the door cards and front seatbacks, whereas the Armada has a plainer design, but those differences only become apparent if you stare at them both for a few minutes. There are a few minor differences here and there, like a unique shifter design, wood steering wheel, and metal speaker grilles, but again, not enough to justify the price premium.

The only major difference between our Armada Platinum tester and our QX80 Sensory tester was the rear seat configuration. Infiniti sells a no-cost captain's chair option with a non-removable center console, while the same feature costs $650 in the Armada.

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The Dealer Experience: Worth The Premium?

Though it has little to do with the vehicles themselves, it's almost certain the QX80 will come with a more premium dealership experience and a generally nicer atmosphere. Infiniti dealerships are typically more well-equipped than Nissan retailers, though the difference may vary depending on where you live. You can expect to have a latte instead of drip coffee, possibly some free snacks, and amenities like complimentary car washes, loaner cars, and more. Of course, these niceties may come with a higher price tag, and you might be the type of buyer who doesn't need a flashy dealer experience.

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Competition: Similar Faults

It doesn't matter if you choose the Armada or QX80, each suffers from similar faults when pitted against their competitive set. The Armada's 5.6-liter V8 once offered best-in-class standard output with 400 hp, though that has since been bested by the 437-hp 2023 Toyota Sequoia. The Armada is still the most affordable vehicle in its class but it also feels older than its rivals. Nissan did its best to update both vehicles with new infotainment, but it's still laggy and outdated compared to competitor systems.

Despite its substantial premium over the Armada, the QX80 is still the least expensive full-size luxury SUV on the market. A base Lexus LX 600 costs more than the nicest QX80, while the American and German options can reach well into six-figure territory. The QX80 is still a bargain within its segment, but the Armada Platinum is an even more compelling option.

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