This story has been updated with additional information.
An Armada might be a large force, or even a fleet of ships, but when it comes to Nissan’s Armada, its largest three-row SUV, the company is hoping to better compete in a market segment dominated by General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.
In an SUV-crazy market, the Armada’s sales fall below those of its domestic three-row competitors, but ahead of those offered by Toyota, with annual U.S. sales in the low-to-mid 30,000 range during the past few years.
Nissan’s largest ute was redesigned in 2017, when its architecture, drivelines and appearance were shared with the Nissan Patrol, the Armada’s international sibling. For 2021, the Armada receives a more refined appearance as part of an extensive freshening, one that was first seen overseas earlier this year.
It’s part of Nissan’s plan to introduce 10 new models in 20 months, according to Allyson Witherspoon, vice president and chief marketing officer for Nissan North America.
“The new 2021 Armada and Kicks are the bookends to Nissan’s strong lineup of crossovers and SUVs, with the all-new Rogue, recently refreshed Rogue Sport, and Murano and another vehicle coming soon. The Nissan showroom will have one of the freshest and most diverse SUV line-ups anywhere.”
The full-size, body-on-frame Armada now wears a more sophisticated, chiseled, square-jawed appearance thanks to new front fenders, grille and bumper, bookended by new LED headlights that contain more than 50 LEDs each. In the rear, revised lighting nestles among gloss black and chrome trim, along with a revised bumper design that lends the vehicle a crisper, more tailored appearance.
The sideview of the vehicle remains familiar, although there are detail changes throughout, such as the dark-painted roof rails, which can hold up to 220 pounds, and an acoustic windshield and front side windows to seal out unwanted noise in the cabin.
For buyers who can’t abide to have what everyone else has, Nissan will also offer a Midnight Edition decked out with black exterior logos, side mirrors, roof rails, grille, and front and rear skid plates.
Perhaps the bigger change comes inside, where the makeover pays dividends most buyers can appreciate, most noticeably the standard 12.3-inch infotainment screen, up from 8 inches on the 2020 model. Wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot come standard; wireless smartphone charging is optional. Drivers also get their own 7-inch display in the instrument cluster. Drivers also get their own seven-inch display flanked by analog gauges in the instrument cluster.
As you might expect in a three-row SUV, there’s seating for eight, with both second and third rows folding flat into the floor; although second-row captain’s chairs are optional, as is a rear-seat entertainment system with two 8-inch monitors, an HDMI input, remote, two USB ports and two pairs of wireless headphones.
Then there are the little touches that buyers appreciate, like the front center console that can be opened/closed from the front and rear, or the standard “intelligent rearview mirror” that now has a higher resolution and is 50% larger. The mirror improves rear visibility by visually removing obstacles such as oversize cargo and rear headrests. And, of course, there’s a large power moonroof, leather or leatherette seating, nine cupholders, four bottle holders and a choice of four interior colors: charcoal, almond, brown and black.
Aside from the Midnight Edition Package and Captain’s Chairs Package, the Armada will offer an SV Appearance Package, with fog lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror with universal garage door opener, power liftgate and 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
While there’s much that’s new, the Armada’s all-steel frame platform carries over unchanged, with its boxed all-steel frame, a fully independent double wishbone suspension, and Nissan’s 5.6-liter double-overhead-cam “Endurance” V-8. It’s now rated at 400 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm and 413 pound-feet of torque @ 4,000 rpm through a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual mode, an increase of 10 horsepower and 19 pound-feet of torque from 2020.
As before the Armada will be offered with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, and has an 8,500-pound tow capacity, which is unchanged from last year. New for 2021, an integrated trailer brake and trailer sway control with tow hitch receiver is standard on SV, SL and Platinum grades.
Fuel economy is rated 14 mpg in city driving, 19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined for rear-wheel drive models, with all-wheel drive models coming in 1 mpg lower in each measurement. Thankfully, the Armada runs on regular unleaded gasoline.
All Armada models come with Safety Shield 360, Nissan’s suite of driver-assistance safety systems, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane-departure warning, high-beam assist, and rear automatic braking.
Also standard are forward-collision warning, intelligent cruise control, lane intervention, blind-spot intervention, a rearview monitor and intelligent driver alertness. A rearview mirror, 360-degree monitor and remote engine starting are optional.
The Armada will be initially offered in ascending SV, SL and Platinum trim levels, with an entry-level S trim coming later in the model year, and will be the first U.S.-market Nissan to wear the new version of its corporate logo. The 2021 Nissan Armada goes on sale in January. Pricing for the new model was not announced.