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
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
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