2021 Nissan Armada First Look Review: The Big SUV Lives

First Look / Comments

Updated exterior styling and more power was necessary.

The second-generation Nissan Armada has received a mid-life update for 2021 that includes a slightly restyled exterior and some significant interior upgrades. The body-on-frame Armada is a true SUV instead of a car-based crossover and features such as rear-wheel-drive and V8 power are standard. Not long ago, the large SUV segment was written off for dead, but cheap gas prices have since revived it.

The segment's main attraction is the fact these SUVs are capable of going just about everywhere and, while coming equipped with a high level of luxury inside. For many, the Armada is the ideal family hauler and off-road adventure vehicle and Nissan knew not to mess too much with an already winning formula.

2021 Nissan Armada Front Angle View Nissan
2021 Nissan Armada Rear Angle View Nissan

A More Rugged Exterior

Nissan designers made the wise choice to toughen up the Armada's styling for 2021. It now sports a more rugged and chiseled look from the A-pillars forward. Notice the new front fenders, grille, and bumper that are surrounded by new LED headlight styling. Nissan says each headlight contains 50 LEDs while the also restyled taillights feature 70 LEDs.

More changes include body-color fenders, dark-painted roof rails, and acoustic glass for the windshield and side windows. The Armada SL trim can also be equipped with the new Midnight Edition package that gives the SUV an overall sharper look with blacked-out side mirrors, grille, front and rear skid plates, and roof rails.

Buyers will have a choice of seven exterior paint colors: Hermosa Blue Pearl, Mocha Almond Pearl, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Brilliant Silver Metallic, Aspen White TriCoat, and the new Coulis Red Pearl. A set of 20-inch alloy wheels are standard while the Platinum boasts 22-inch alloys. In general, the 2021 Armada retains its powerful look and the updates provide a new dose of the brand's latest design language.

2021 Nissan Armada Front View Nissan
2021 Nissan Armada Side View Nissan
2021 Nissan Armada Rear View Nissan
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Significant Upgrades Inside

Perhaps the biggest interior update is the new 12.3-inch color display screen, which Nissan claims to be the largest in class. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard, as is WiFi connectivity. Wireless smartphone charging is optional. Owners will appreciate the new seven-inch full-color Advanced Driver Assist Display behind the steering wheel. The redesigned center console can now be opened and closed from the front and rear while a removable tray has been added to better organize small items.

The 2021 Armada retains the same trim levels as last year - SV, SL, and Platinum (Nissan says the base S trim will arrive later). Platinum models come standard with a newly enhanced Intelligent Rear View Mirror and a Family Entertainment System featuring dual eight-inch monitors, an HDMI input, and two pairs of wireless headphones. Nissan Concierge, part of the NissanConnect Services Convenience plan, offers 24-hour access to a live assistant.

Like before, the Armada can accommodate up to eight passengers with three rows of seats. SL and Platinum trims have optional second-row captain's chairs and a removable console. These top trims also come with a 13-speaker Bose audio system and a sliding moonroof.

2021 Nissan Armada Dashboard Nissan
2021 Nissan Armada Gear Shifter Nissan
2021 Nissan Armada Navigation Nissan
2021 Nissan Armada Maximum Cargo Space Nissan

Power, Towing, And Safety

The Armada retains its naturally aspirated 5.6-liter V8 that now delivers 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque up from 390 hp and 394 lb-ft in the previous model. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard.

Towing capacity remains at 8,500 pounds for both 2WD and 4WD models though a brake controller with a tow hitch receiver and Trailer Sway Control now comes as standard fare. Fuel economy isn't spectacular at 14/19/16 mpg city/highway/combined for the 2WD and 13/18/15 mpg for 4WD.

The Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of safety systems is standard on all trims, and includes Intelligent Lane and Blind Spot Intervention, and RearView Monitor. Rear Door Alert, a system that alerts drivers that items were left inside while exiting, is also standard.

2017-2020 Nissan Armada Engine Nissan
2021 Nissan Armada Front Angle View Nissan
2021 Nissan Armada Forward View Nissan

Pricing And Competition

Nissan has not announced 2021 Armada pricing or an on-sale date though we expect that information shortly. In all likelihood, prices won't deviate much from last year, which began at $47,100 with a fully-equipped Armada costing around $73,000 - well into pricing territory of its more luxurious corporate cousin, the Infiniti QX80.

The Armada will continue to face off against the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon twins, and the Toyota Sequoia - all with body-on-frame construction. Those seeking a more luxurious full-size SUV should check out the QX80, Cadillac Escalade, and Lincoln Navigator. The Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX are expected to be discontinued in the near future.

Despite requiring more gasoline than crossovers, full-size SUVs remain popular and this newly facelifted Armada will have no problem finding new buyers.

2021 Nissan Armada In Motion Nissan
2021 Nissan Armada Straight-Ahead Angle Nissan
2021 Nissan Armada Front View Driving Nissan

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2017-2020 Nissan Armada Engine
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2021 Nissan Armada In Motion
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