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October 2006
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2006 Nissan Armada LE 4x4

The Good :)  Living room sized interior.  Lots of entertainment options. Automatic 4x4.  Dual zone temperature settings and separate controls for rear.  Large and comfortable seats.  The perfect road trip vehicle for the family.

The Bad :(  Gets a low 15 mpg.  Rear seats should fold automatically.  Too large as a daily driver.  Expensive.

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            Nissan has been shifting into 2nd gear lately offering stylish and bold vehicles with sharp nimble handling.  This extends to its Armada line as well which is the largest SUV Nissan makes, and one of the largest vehicles on the roads of America.  There is limited choice for large families; those with more than three kids.  The minivan is still around but the style is fading as fast as GM's market share.  Just drive to any high school in a posh town and you will see rows of large SUVs and maybe only a few minivans.  The advantages of a large SUV are that it lacks the body sway of a minivan and is much wider and taller.  The significantly higher driving position is what woman seem to prefer. When you combine that with all the gear you have to take along to after school games, a large SUV certainly has its advantages.  

The Nissan Armada was originally created in 2004 when the trend was still bigger is better.  Nissan made some small enhancements for 2006 but we don't expect significant changes for another 2-3 years.  Included now is a better dual zone climate control system, third row seats that split fold and an audio system capable of playing MP3s.  New side rear view mirrors are also added on LE models which fold, heat up, automatically dim, and have integrated turn signals. 

"Built for full-size adventures, Armada offers its owners the flexibility that they're looking for to take their outings to the great outdoors," said Mark McNabb, Vice President and General Manager, Nissan Division.  "Armada is powerful enough to pull the boat up to the lake, sleek enough to valet park and offers utility enough to transport the family to all their desired destinations."

            The Armada exhibits powerful and uniquely Nissan exterior design cues.  You are certain to appreciate the large yet smooth front face of the Armada.  Nissan has done a great job of conveying beauty and sculptured lines along with a big bold appearance.  The giant chrome bumper and grille make a one piece, 'get out of my way' front end.  Tow hooks built into the front lower bumper protrude out and could have been recessed more for a flush appearance.  Large fog lamps are built into the bumper.  We liked the headlight design, providing gleaming clear lenses and nicely styled turn indicators.  Large wheels and tires signal at the off-road capabilities and remind you that this machine is not just for the asphalt.  Body panels are clean flowing and chrome mirrors and door handles give a strong appearance.  A very large running board makes getting into the Armada easy.  Flared out fenders adds some style to the rear end without adding body cladding.  At the back, a half painted and half chrome bumper matches the front end nicely but lacks the modern styling of the front bumper.  A standard trailer hitch and electric switch for a trailer shows us that Nissan has thought of all the various things people will use the Armada for.  A roof rack on top gives the Armada some more go-anywhere character.  Tail lamps are flush with two circular stoplights built inside each unit.

            The interior is where the massive amount of room and great features really wow you.  There is plenty of room with a very wide and long cabin.  There are loads of entertainment options and three zones of temperature controls and fan speeds keep all passengers satisfied.  The Armada feels like it can hold you and your family in luxurious comfort, with clean flowing room, in a way better than a Hummer.  Just having the feeling before you get in and relax is a great accomplishment. 

            In the driver's seat you have everything within easy reach, offering the master great command of this beast.  The driver's seat can be tilted to provide a cradle position and has power height adjustment and a power seatback.  The steering wheel is adjustable manually up and down only.  The brake and gas pedals are adjustable by way of a power switch to provide more comfort for all those soccer moms.  Front windows have automatic up and down with one touch of the switch.  The large sized rearview mirrors can also be closed by way of a power switch.  The Armada offers a 2-position memory for remembering seat and mirror settings and an easy exit feature that moves back the seat for easier exit.  The steering wheel is leather wrapped and quite thick for a bold and macho feeling.  We liked the stereo controls as well as cruise control adjustment right on the steering wheel.  Two large control stalks, made to look ever macho and big, control the automatic lights and windshield wipers.  The instrument cluster is clean with white on black gauges in plastic trim.  On the dash is a simple switch to control the transfer case, which can be set to four, or two wheel drive only as well as automatic to let the Armada do all the thinking.

            The center console holds even more controls for this behemoth.  Up top you have a large display for the navigation system and trip computer as well as climate control and stereo visual displays.  Everything is laid out nicely on a brushed aluminum trim.  We found an informative trip computer which displayed time, driving distance and average speed for two different settings as well as fuel economy data in average and instant styles and distance to empty readings.  There are three levels of presets for all your favorite radio stations.  You can choose from a 6-disc CD changer built into the dash or the radio which includes AM, FM, and XM satellite. There is also an auxiliary input for plugging in your Ipod or other MP3 player.  You can also turn on or off the rear speakers if the rear passengers are listening to a movie using their stereo wireless headphones.  And when you do not want the kids to be able to use the rear DVD player and entertainment system, you can turn off all the rear controls.  The driver is the master in this vehicle.  The Bose 10-speaker stereo system is loud and crisp offering loads of bass.  Turn it up and it remains quite clear though not as great as an elite system found in the higher priced Infiniti QX4.

            Nissan's DVD based navigation system is a great addition to the Armada.  It is easy to use and holds everything on a single DVD.  Simply zoom out and click on a location and it will guide you there, or you can put in the phone number of your local Costco and it will find the address.  A 3D bird's view mode makes it easy to fly across the country.  There are no zones to select or CDs to change; the entire US map is stored and accessible to the user on the fly.  Most functions do turn off while moving and we would like that changed so a passenger can navigate while the driver is driving.

            Our vehicle's color was named 'smoke', a metallic grey actually, and interior leather seating surfaces were also in a grey color.  Some exterior colors are offered with a beige interior, which we feel would cheer you up much more and provide a more luxurious interior.

            The climate control system is one that we liked very much.  Keeping a car this big cool is not an easy task, however the Armada does a great job.  The system can be kept in automatic mode, and you can set two different temperatures for driver and passenger.  This is a new standard item for the 2006 model year vehicles.   Also there is a rear temperature dial and fan speed selector, it is not a actual temperature setting but a hotter or colder dial.  The second row passengers can also change temperature and fan speed themselves in back. 

            On the dash we have two cigarette lighter plugs, it is about time that these things be made smaller, because most of us use electronic devices in the car and their plugs just do not need to be this large.  Something small like a magnetic plug found in Apple computers would do just fine.  Both front seats are heated with two different temperature settings.  On the central console a shift knob is lined in leather and aluminum with a gated shifting pattern.  Manual shifting is also available for sporty driving. 

            We liked the large cup holders hidden nicely in a brushed aluminum cover as well as the deep storage space in the console.  Under the rubber lined armrest is a storage unit for the DVD player and there is also enough room for DVD cases and a laptop.  On either side of the center console you also have a tray for holding ever more things such as a note pad or a few magazines.  The doors have large bottle holders up front and more compartmentalized storage so things do not fly around. 

            Up top a large sunroof opens and closes with a one touch button.  It is still the old style mechanism which does not look or feel and move like a German sunroof, which is quieter and smoother in its operation.  A temperature reading with compass is also located in the upper display area.  There is a button located here to open the third row rear windows.  Built into the Armada is a three garage opener as well.  We also found the sunglass holder to be quite useful up here.  One more thing Nissan did not forget is the self dimming rear view mirror.  The large pull-down sun visors also have an extension to cover the wide front windshield, which was quite thoughtful.  All doors have large grab handles to make it easier to get in and out as well.

            In the second row two seats are about as comfortable as those in the first row.  All the seats could use slightly larger side bolsters on the bottom cushion so your rear end does not move around so easily.  There is a large center armrest that makes it quite comfortable for the rear seat passengers.  Seatbacks also recline manually for when you want to take a nap.  We did not mention that the front passenger seat can fold flat down and so if you sit on the passenger side in the 2nd row you can fold down the front seat and have a nice ottoman style leg rest for a very luxurious feeling.  The doors are similar to the front doors with equally large inside pulls and a nicely sized grab handle in a ergonomic position so your arm can rest on the door and hold the handle while the vehicle is in motion.  Door paneling is a mix of hard plastic and soft plastic with rubber inserts.  This could have been done a bit nicer but you can easily buy a wood kit from Autosupermart.com and upgrade the interior looks of the Armada.  Upper roof paneling is mostly a knit fabric with the exception of the large rear console in the ceiling. 

            The roof in back offers a console with unique airliner style movable lights, vent ducts and controls for the climate system and the entertainment system are also located up here.  With a large center mounted screen you can watch DVD's or plug in a game player like a Xbox or Playstation.  You can also plug in your own Ipod, with two separate auxiliary inputs so both your kids can have their own separate Ipods running while listening to them on the provided wireless headphones.  We found the headphones to be weak when the front seat passengers had the vehicle stereo turned on, even with the rear speakers turned off.  You can also listen to your own DVD or XM satellite radio station in the rear and control the volume and station but you cannot listen to a separate FM station as that tuned in the front cabin. 

            The temperature controls are all very intuitive and easy to use.  We are happy to report that you actually do get loads of air flow in back.  On the highest setting, the system is very powerful.  Storage space is plentiful as well with four cup holders for the 2nd row.  The central console holds more storage such as the headphones and the remote control for the DVD system.   

            The third row of seats offers smaller seating in a bench style. You do have your legs up high into your stomach but there is enough legroom to stay back here for at least an hour.  The seats are much harder than and not as comfortable as the front or second row seats.  If you were a child, this might be the perfect space away from the adults up front.  Both third row windows open outward to vent the cabin and you have cup holders and storage here on either side as well.  As you go further back you have enough room to hold a couple bags or even tall suitcases.  Under the floor storage is hidden nicely in the back cargo area and can hold many small items so they do not fly around in the cabin.

            Armada is powered by an impressive 317 horsepower 5.6 liter DOHC V8 engine.  The 385 lb-ft of torque gives you great towing ability on any hill and superb power from a stop.  The Armada has 9,200 pounds of maximum towing capacity which is enough to tow large boats.  A highly advanced variable intake provides power at any RPM.  The Armada is also available as a flex fuel vehicle capable of running on 85% Ethanol, fuel that is grown from corn and burns clean.  We highly suggest consumers pick the engine that can use more Ethanol. 

            A five speed automatic transmission is mated to this engine offering smooth shifting.  To keep an eye on things while towing, a transmission temperature gauge is also available.  Also featured is the vehicle Dynamic Stability Control that helps keep the Armada on course when making abrupt steering movements.  This along with Electronic Brake Force Distribution senses any additional weight in the rear and sends extra force to the rear brakes.  Another feature, Brake Assist, senses emergency braking and helps increase brake force.  So as you can see the Armada offers all the electronic safety features you could want. 

            The ride is firm and stable, which is what you want in such a large vehicle to help give you more control.  There is little body sway and steering is sharp so that you can turn when you want to -even at a high speed- and not have the body lean.  Bounce is evident and on rough roads it can be quite jarring to rear seat passengers.  On highways the ride is very smooth and the interior is quiet.  To help prevent squeaks and rattles, Armada has a full-length body-on-frame design using laser welding and structural bonding for high torsional rigidity.  A benefit is the independent rear suspension with automatic leveling feature to maintain ride height even when towing.  We liked the lack of wind noise and road noise with all windows closed.  Should you desire some engine growl, just push the pedal to the metal and you will hear a roar.  The steering sends a good amount of road feeling to the driver so you feel well connected. 

On long drives more than four hours, we found that we were tired, something that does not happen on a Mercedes S-Class.  More research on seat design could help make Armada the ultimate long range cruiser.  Quite nice when driving is the view; there are large windows surrounding you and the height of the Armada lets you see far ahead above all the rest. 

Getting in and out is made easy with the full length running boards.  When your hands are full with groceries, the powered rear hatch opens with a click of the button.  A rear view camera along with rear radar sensors makes it very easy to reverse and back up.  The system beeps when you are six feet away from an object and turns to a solid beep when you within 12 inches of hitting something.  The camera image on the large navigation screen inside is very useful in the Armada.

            Many airbags are featured in the Armada which is the only full size SUV with standard side curtain air bags extending to the third row.  Side impact air bags are available for the front seats along with the traditional front facing air bags.  A tire pressure system is also standard for your safety. 

            Nissan offers a warranty for a period of three years or 36,000 miles, which is on the low side in terms of comparable warranties. Five year 60,000 mile powertrain coverage is also included.  The window sticker shows gas mileage of 13 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway but our highway tests never made it over 15.5 mpg. 

            Our Armada LE 4x4 starts off at a sticker price of $42,600.  Options added to this included floor mats and a cargo mat for $210.  The technology package with XM satellite radio includes a DVD navigation system with rear view camera and a power slide and tilt sunroof for $3,750.  The DVD rear entertainment system with 7-inch screen and two wireless headphones costs $1,600.  Destination charges of $705 brings our total to $48,865.

            What makes the Armada unique is its living room sized interior that can seat seven passengers with enough gear for football practice or even a fishing weekend.  The drawback is that the most useful features that make the Armada such a pleasure are all offered as options.  Items like the DVD navigation, backup camera with sensors and the rear DVD entertainment system cost a whole lot of money.  Just the two packages alone which include these features add over five grand to the price of the Armada.  Without these goodies, it would be a very boring trip for you and the kids in back.   Improvements should be made in long range seat comfort and a laser cruise control system should be offered.  When you have the need the Armada delivers.

 

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 38,915 42,600
Destination 705 705
L92   6-pc. Floor Mat/Cargo Mat 155 210
U07   Technology Package w/XM 3,253 3,750


 

 COMPARISONS 2006 Nissan Armada
LE 4dr SUV 4WD (5.6L 8cyl 5A)
2006 Volvo XC90
V8 4dr SUV AWD (4.4L 8cyl 6A)
2006 HUMMER H2
4dr SUV 4WD (6.0L 8cyl 4A)
2006 Infiniti QX56
4dr SUV 4WD (5.6L 8cyl 5A)
2007 Audi Q7
4.2 quattro 4dr SUV AWD (4.2L 8cyl 6A)
Pricing Armada XC90 H2 QX56 Q7
MSRP $42,800 $46,400 $52,980 $52,800 $49,900
Invoice $38,912 $43,651 $48,741 $48,501 $46,037
Basic 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Drivetrain 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 6 yr. / 70000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Roadside 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / Unlimited mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / Unlimited mi.
Rust 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 12 yr. / Unlimited mi. 6 yr. / Unlimited mi. 7 yr. / Unlimited mi. 12 yr. / Unlimited mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders V8 V8 V8 V8 V8
Base Engine Displacement 5.6 liters 4.4 liters 6.0 liters 5.6 liters 4.2 liters
Valvetrain 32 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
32 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
overhead valves (OHV)
32 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
32 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Horsepower 305 hp @ 4900 rpm 311 hp @ 5850 rpm 325 hp @ 5200 rpm 315 hp @ 4900 rpm 350 hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque 385 ft-lbs. @ 3600 rpm 325 ft-lbs. @ 3900 rpm 365 ft-lbs. @ 3600 rpm 390 ft-lbs. @ 3600 rpm 325 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm
Drivetrain Armada XC90 H2 QX56 Q7
Driven Wheels four wheel drive all wheel drive four wheel drive four wheel drive all wheel drive
4WD Type on demand   full time on demand  
Transfer Case Standard   Standard Standard  
Center Differential mechanical mechanical mechanical   mechanical
Self Leveling Suspension Standard Standard Optional Standard Optional
Tires and Wheels Armada XC90 H2 QX56 Q7
Tires P265/70R18
all season
235/65R17
all season
LT315/70R17
all terrain
P265/70R18
all season
255/55R18 109H
all season
Wheels alloy
18 x 8 in.
alloy
17 x 7.0 in.
alloy
17 x 8.5 in.
chrome alloy
18 x 8.0 in.
alloy
18 x 8.5 in.
Rear Sunroof         fixed glass - Optional
Rear Quarter Windows power     power  
One-Touch Power Windows 2 2 4 4 4
Heated Driver Mirror Standard Standard Standard Standard  
Heated Passenger Mirror Standard Standard Standard Standard  
Auto-Dimming Outside Mirrors electrochromatic   electrochromatic, driver only electrochromatic electrochromatic
Adjustable Pedals Standard     Standard  
Steering Adjustment tilt-adjustable tilt and telescopic tilt-adjustable tilt-adjustable tilt and telescopic
Premium Shift Knob Trim leather alloy alloy and leather   leather
Total Number of Speakers 10 8 9 10 14
Watts 265 160   265 270
Turning Circle 40.8 ft. 40 ft. 43.5 ft. 41 ft. 39.4 ft.
Hauling Armada XC90 H2 QX56 Q7
Max. Cargo Capacity 97 cu. ft. 93 cu. ft. 87 cu. ft. 97 cu. ft. 72 cu. ft.
Max. Towing Capacity 9000 lbs. 5000 lbs. 6700 lbs. 8900 lbs. 6600 lbs.
EPA Mileage Estimates Armada XC90 H2 QX56 Q7
City 13 mpg. 15 mpg. Not Published 13 mpg. 14 mpg.
Highway 18 mpg. 21 mpg. Not Published 18 mpg. 19 mpg.
Exterior Armada XC90 H2 QX56 Q7
Length 206.9 in. 188.9 in. 189.8 in. 206.9 in. 200.2 in.
Width 78.8 in. 74.7 in. 81.2 in. 78.8 in. 78.1 in.
Height 78.7 in. 70.2 in. 79.2 in. 77.8 in. 68.4 in.
Weight 5623 lbs. 4610 lbs. 6400 lbs. 5714 lbs. 5269 lbs.
Wheel Base 123.2 in. 112.6 in. 122.8 in. 123.2 in. 118.2 in.
Ground Clearance 10.7 in. 8.9 in. 9.9 in. 10.8 in. 8.1 in.
Interior Armada XC90 H2 QX56 Q7
Front Headroom 41 in. 39.7 in. 40.5 in. 41 in. 39.5 in.
Rear Headroom 40 in. 38.4 in. 39.7 in. 40 in. 39 in.
Front Shoulder Room 65.1 in. 58.3 in. 66.4 in. 65.1 in. 58.7 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 64.5 in. 57.4 in. 66.3 in. 64.5 in. 58.1 in.
Front Hip Room 61.3 in. 55.4 in. 62.9 in. 61.3 in.  
Rear Hip Room 60.1 in. 54.1 in. 62 in. 60.1 in.  
Front Leg Room 41.8 in. 41 in. 41.3 in. 41.8 in. 41.3 in.
Rear Leg Room 41.9 in. 34.6 in. 38.6 in. 41.9 in. 37.1 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 20 cu.ft. 8.8 cu.ft. 40 cu.ft. 20 cu.ft. 10.9 cu.ft.
Maximum Seating 8 7 6 8 7

 

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