2009 Nissan Armada | road test

Posted on Apr 5, 2009 by

In 1588, King Philip of Spain assembled a huge fleet of ships with the intention of invading the British Isles.

This massive Spanish Armada, many miles across, headed towards English shores before being torn apart by the Royal Navy. The Spanish boats were too large and cumbersome to take on the smaller, nimble British ships. The whole exercise was a disaster.

Had King Phil used a Armada instead, he may have had more luck. The biggest SUV that makes is plenty large enough for a supply of cannon, yet handles considerably better than a 16th century warship. It’ll carry up to eight buccaneers and will doubtless make for a better invasion force than some old wooden boats. Admittedly it’s probably not as good in deep oceans, but nowadays there’s a tunnel between Europe and the UK anyway.

Like its Spanish namesake, the Armada is big. Really big. It’s a luxury SUV based on the platform of the Navara pick-up and takes on the likes of Toyota’s Sequoia and the Chevrolet Suburban in the Really Massive category.

Having tested the Sequoia just before the Armada, several things are immediately noticeable. Firstly, the Armada is not as big as its rival. That’s not to say it’s small – there’s loads of room in all three rows of seats. Just not quite as much as in the Toyota. However, the Nissan does pick up points when it comes to interior material quality. It feels solid up front, with soft touch materials used on the dash. The standard of assembly is far from bad, and although the craftsmanship doesn’t seem quite on par with that of Toyota, it’s a lot better than the offering from Chevrolet.

On the outside, the design is unremarkable – chunky would be the best description, with a Navara-esque face and lots of square bits. But this is offset with plenty of gadgets and gizmos thrown in as standard.

There’s also plenty of storage space. The rear two rows of seats fold flat, meaning there’s enough space to carry pretty much anything. And additionally, the roof is full of fold down storage boxes, which would be very useful for storing some of the many distractions that children demand.

Two trim levels are available – SE and LE. The SE may be the entry-level model, but remember, this is a luxury SUV so there’s no scrimping on the features. The standard spec includes dual-zone air conditioning, rear parking sensors and a six-CD changer, with an auxiliary-in socket for mp3 players. Rear seat passengers get a set of audio controls to have their own say over what goes on the stereo.

Outside, there are automatic headlights, side steps and chrome on the door handles, as well as a roof rack and 18-inch wheels.



Go for the LE model and you’ll find additions including a powered tailgate, heated leather seats and a third row of seats that folds flat electrically at just the touch of a button. The stereo gets an upgrade to a 10-speaker Bose system, and there’s a rear-view camera to help manoeuvre the car’s massive bulk. A Bluetooth system for hands-free telephony is also included.

Options include two captain’s chairs on the second row, rather than the standard bench, as well as a hard disc-based navigation system and a sunroof.

On the road, the Armada is a bit disappointing. Sure, a vehicle this large and high it was never going to have sport car handling, but the Sequoia has shown that large SUVs can be relatively nimble. The Armada feels woolly, wallowy and soft, which is fine for cruising in a straight line, but not so good around corners. It also has a large turning circle, which again the Sequoia shows does not have to be.

The engine is good, however – a 5.6-litre V8 with 320bhp, which sounds a lot, but remember that this car weighs around 2.5 tonnes. Still, it will propel the Armada along at a decent pace, if not scintillating – the hike in power that Nissan gave the vehicle in 2008 was clearly needed. However, be aware that because of such a huge engine, plus the sheer size of the vehicle itself, the Armada will drink as much as an entire fleet of Spanish sailors. Cogs are shifted by way of a five-speed automatic transmission.

It’s not at all a bad machine, the Armada, but its biggest problem is the Toyota Sequoia. With the exception of the quality of interior materials, the Toyota sinks the Armada in virtually all areas.

Price: 152,000AED

Engine size: 5.6

Engine type: V8

Driven wheels: Four wheel drive/ rear wheel drive

Max power (bhp): 320

Max torque (Nm): 532

Trim levels: SE, LE

Standard safety features: ABS, VDC, Electronic Brake Assist, driver and passenger airbag, rollover sensor, front active head restraints

* Prices are indicative and may vary at the time of purchase. All prices are ex-Dubai showrooms. Please check with your local dealer for current prices and offers.


One Response to 2009 Nissan Armada | road test

  1. Health Talks in Singapore Reply

    October 7, 2014 at 7:51 am

    The Armada feels woolly, wallowy and soft, which is fine for cruising in a straight line, but not so good around corners.

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