Caraganza First Drive Review 2020 Nissan Armada Platinum: I like big SUVs and I can not lie




I can remember when owning an SUV meant you had little room in your driveway for anything else.  When SUVs first gained popularity, they were big, as in took up an entire lane and swallowed up the average parking space, big.

Then along came crossovers. SUVs that weren’t exactly SUVs but weren’t exactly cars.  Some seemed to be like squished up sedans or squashed up boxes. The point is that the big SUVs are becoming rarer than ever.

But I like big SUVs and I can not lie.

That’s why I’m glad that Nissan still has the Armada, a big SUV and they’re seemingly proud of it.

Nissan introduced a new generation of the Armada in 2017 and for 2020 there have been only small changes to some of the trim levels and feature availability.  It is among the rare breed of vehicle that can haul up to eight adults, tow up to 8500 pounds and with the flip of a dial can head off-road if needed.

The Armada can be had in SV, SL, Platinum and Platinum Reserve trims in either 4X2 or 4X4 drive configurations all powered by a 390 horsepower V8.

The standard SV trim sits atop 18-inch alloy wheels and has LED headlights, roof rails, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and 60/40-split second- and third-row seats.

On the tech side there’s nav, an 8-inch touchscreen display, and a 13-speaker Bose audio system with a CD player, HD and satellite radio, and four USB ports. Safety features include adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

The Driver package option gives you a power liftgate, fog lights, power folding third row seats and a trailering package.

That Driver package is included on the SL trim, and adds 20-inch wheels, automatic wipers, auto-dimming outside mirrors, remote engine start, front step lighting, a power-adjustable steering wheel, driver-seat memory functions, leather upholstery, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, and an enhanced 360-degree top-down parking camera with moving-object detection and warning.

On the SL you can add the Premium package which will get you a sunroof, rear automatic emergency automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. You can also get a Captain’s Chairs package that replaces the second-row bench seats with two bucket seats.

At the top of the line Platinum you get all the above, but add rear step lighting, a windshield wiper de-icer, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, leather door trim, a rear-seat entertainment system, an additional USB port, an upgraded rearview mirror that can display a constant video feed from the rearview camera, and lane keeping assist with blind-spot intervention.



If you get the Platinum trim, you can add the Platinum Reserve package that adds on 22-inch wheels, special exterior trim, two-tone leather upholstery and the Captain’s Chairs package.

The range-topping Platinum adds the SL’s Premium package along with 22-inch wheels, special exterior trim, two-tone leather upholstery and the Captain’s Chairs package.

Nissan sent me a 2020 Platinum Reserve for a recent week, and I was happy to see my driveway filled with this big SUV.  It’s like the Hulk was forced to put on a tux and attend a friend’s wedding. Just don’t make him mad.

The interior is more than roomy, and best described as understated and utilitarian. That’s not a bad thing, but what is better is the drive. On the road the V8 delivers plenty of power and the 394-foot pounds of torque is more than enough to take on just about anything you could throw at it. In fact, the thing that surprised me the most on the road is how unlike a big SUV this big SUV drives.

Behind the wheel of say an Escalade, Yukon, Sequoia, GLS or Suburban you feel like your driving a big SUV, not so the Armada.

And I think that’s a very good thing.  By the way, those aforementioned big SUVs aren’t rated to tow as much as the Armada. So, if you need to tow that much, those others won’t cut it.

Not all is perfect, however.

While the tech gets the job done, it still seems much of it was carried over from a generation, or two ago. Like before the time when there were things such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration. Neither of which, by the way, is present in this latest generation.   And like a few of the other big SUVs the liftover height is a bit too high and unlike the others, lowering the third row via a button is painfully slow.  It also suffers the poor fuel mileage of every big SUV with a big V8 under the hood.

However, considering you can get an Armada with every one of the bells and whistles Nissan offers for and MSRP of around $71,000 it’s actually quite a bargain.

While the Armada is okay as it sits, updating the tech and adding a refresh of the interior certainly couldn’t hurt. And if you like big SUVs and can not lie (like me) and are shopping for something to fill up your driveway the Armada should definitely be on your shopping list.

Just don’t make it mad.

The 2020 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve
MSRP: $63,530
MSRP (as tested): $71,730
Engine: 5.6-liter V8 390 hp @ 5800 rpm, 394 lb-ft torque @4000 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed Automatic w/OD
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 13 city, 18 highway, 15 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested mixed conditions): 20 mpg
Base curb weight: 5958 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions  
Wheelbase (inches): 121.1
Length (inches): 208.9
Width, without mirrors (inches): 79.9
Height (inches): 75.8
Front Track Width (inches): 67.5
Rear Track Width (inches): 67.9
Minimum Ground Clearance (inches): 9.2
Liftover Height (inches): 35

Interior Dimensions
Passenger / Seating Capacity: 8
Front Head Room (inches): 39.8
Front Leg Room (inches): 41.9
Front Shoulder Room (inches): 63.8
Front Hip Room (inches): 59.2
Second Row Head Room (inches): 40
Second Row Leg Room (inches): 41
Second Row Shoulder Room (inches): 63.4
Second Row Hip Room (inches): 58.4
Third Row Head Room (inches): 36.4
Third Row Leg Room (inches): 28.4
Third Row Shoulder Room (inches): 60.5
Third Row Hip Room (inches): 48.8
Cargo Space/Area Length Behind First Row (inches): 86.2
Cargo Space/Area Length Behind Second Row (inches): 49.1
Cargo Space/Area Length Behind Third Row (inches): 20.3
Cargo Space/Area Width at Beltline (inches): 63.4
Cargo Bed Width Between Wheelhousings (inches): 48.8
Cargo Bed Height (inches): 36.7
Cargo Space/Area Behind Front Row (cubic feet): 95.4
Cargo Space/Area Behind Second Row (cubic feet): 49.9
Cargo Space/Area Behind Third Row (cubic feet): 16.5

Basic: 3 Yr./ 36000 Mi.
Drivetrain: 5 Yr./ 60000 Mi.
Roadside: 3 yr./ 36000 mi.

Greg Engle