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2012  Nissan Armada SUV

2012  Nissan Armada SUV

2012  Nissan Armada SUV

2012  Nissan Armada SUV

2012  Nissan Armada SUV

2012  Nissan Armada SUV

2012  Nissan Armada SUV

2012  Nissan Armada SUV

2012  Nissan Armada SUV

2012 Nissan Armada SUV - FROM $39,870

Though the 2012 Nissan Armada is a capable full-size SUV, it's outclassed by newer rivals as well as the latest crop of crossover SUVs.

2012  Nissan Armada SUV

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Nissan Armada is back with just a few changes, including the addition of a power liftgate to the standard equipment list of SL models and the SV's Driver options package. Heated front seats are also now standard on the SL, as are heated second-row seats on the top-of-the-line Platinum models.

Introduction

Built on the same underpinnings as the automaker's burly Titan pickup, the full-size 2012 Nissan Armada certainly has the goods if it's towing and hauling you're looking for. While no longer class-leading, the Armada's standard 317-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 still produces strong acceleration. The combination of this burly mill and traditional body-on-frame construction also gives Nissan's flagship SUV the ability to tow trailers up to a hefty 9,100 pounds when properly equipped.

Unfortunately, there aren't many other bright spots for this aging SUV. Compared to its full-size rivals, the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia, the Armada typically comes up short in terms of third-row legroom, cargo capacity, ride quality and feature content.

We'd also suggest that folks who don't really need the Armada's impressive towing capabilities have a look at the latest generation of large car-based crossovers, particularly the GMC Acadia, Ford Explorer and Mazda CX-9; all deliver more appealing ride and handling characteristics and better fuel economy while still providing plenty of interior room.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV offered in three trim levels, including the entry-level SV, midrange SL and top-of-the-line Platinum.

Base SV models come well equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, side-step rails, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear climate controls, an eight-way power driver seat, a tilt-only steering wheel and power-adjustable pedals. Also standard is an eight-speaker sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack. Opting for the Driver package adds foglights, a power liftgate, an auto-dimming mirror, Bluetooth, a rearview camera and an 11-speaker Bose sound system with satellite radio and rear audio controls. SVs with four-wheel drive come standard with this package.

The Armada SL includes the above equipment plus 20-inch alloy wheels, an auto-leveling rear air suspension, a roof rack, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a power-folding third-row seat.

Moving up to the Platinum model gets you 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, front parking sensors, a sunroof, dual power-folding mirrors, heated second-row seats and steering wheel, driver seat memory functions, a navigation system with real-time traffic, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a Bose audio system with digital music storage.

Second-row captain's chairs are available on the Platinum model as a replacement for the standard bench. The DVD entertainment system is a stand-alone option on lower trims.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Nissan Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 that produces 317 hp and 385 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only available transmission, but buyers do have a choice of rear-wheel or four-wheel drive (with dual-range gearing).

With either drivetrain, fuel economy is disappointing even for a large SUV. EPA fuel economy estimates are 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined for two-wheel-drive models and 1 mpg less in each driving cycle for four-wheel-drive versions. Properly equipped, the Armada can tow as much as 9,100 pounds.

Safety

The 2012 Nissan Armada comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat active head restraints, front-seat side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.

Interior Design and Special Features

Climb inside the passenger cabin of the 2012 Nissan Armada and you'll find a handsome space done up in generally high-quality materials. Though there are a lot of buttons on the dash (especially in upper trim levels equipped with the navigation system), everything is arranged in an uncomplicated manner that's relatively intuitive.

As with most full-size SUVs, the Armada's front seats are large and supportive, with good head- and legroom. The eight-passenger interior that's standard on SV and SL models features perfectly serviceable 40/20/40-split second-row seats, but the comfy twin captain's chairs separated by a center console on the Platinum trim level are the way to go, even though this setup limits passenger capacity to seven. Good-sized storage cubbies and cupholders scattered throughout the interior make sure there's a place for everything.

The 60/40 manually split-folding third-row bench folds down into the floor with little effort, but the available power-folding version is especially useful. Primed for cargo, the Armada can carry up to 97 cubic feet, about 10 cubic feet fewer than many of its full-size SUV competitors.

Driving Impressions

It doesn't take a lot of time in the 2012 Nissan Armada's driver seat to understand its strengths and weaknesses. On the upside, the powerful 5.6-liter engine gives this massive truck much better acceleration than you'd expect from a vehicle that weighs nearly 3 tons. The ride quality is generally comfortable, though bad pavement can make the ride seem a little harsh, something that's not an issue with newer designs like the Toyota Sequoia. The Armada's steering has a weighty feel to it, but some will find it a little too heavy in slow-speed parking lot maneuvers. At the same time, this is very much a truck, and it lacks the refinement of the larger car-based crossovers.