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Published on Sun, Jun 13, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


Competing against the Ford Expedition, Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Toyota Sequoia, the aptly named Nissan Armada comes ready to battle these four models by offering bold styling, plenty of power, smooth and agile performance, comfortable seating for up to eight, and the latest in safety features - with all of the versatility that makes a full-size sport utility vehicle such a hot item in today's market.

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

With sales of the Expedition, Tahoe, Yukon and Sequoia doing well, why should anyone purchase an all-new model from Nissan? The reason is that the Armada offers a fresh new look, borrowing the front-end styling from the new Titan, and a silhouette featuring a stepped-up roofline with a two-piece roof rack. The Armada also borrows the Titan's body-on-frame architecture, sitting on a hydro-formed, fully boxed ladder-type frame for extra strength and rigidity. All body panels on the Armada are two-sided galvanized steel sheet metal for strength and durability. The Armada is powered by the Endurance 5.6-liter dual overhead cam V8 engine, and mated to a five-speed automatic transmission (which also powers the Titan). After driving the Armada for a seven-day road test, I was impressed with Nissan's ability to bring all aspects of the fun of owning a full-size sport utility vehicle so well together. It's all here in the Armada. Lets take a closer look at what makes the all-new Nissan Pathfinder Armada so unique.

The Endurance 5.6-liter all-aluminum, DOHC V8 engine pumps out 305 horsepower at 4,900 rpm and 385 pounds feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. That is plenty of power and torque to accelerate quickly from stoplights and when merging into fast-moving freeway traffic. That is also plenty of torque to power you through almost any type of off-road obstacle that may lie ahead on the trail. And enough torque to safely tow up to 9,100 pounds. The strong and smooth-shifting five-speed automatic transmission quickly shifts up or down, depending on the need. The optional four-wheel drive (4X4) two-speed electronic transfer case comes with part-time 4X4, two-wheel high, full-time 4X4 and 4X4 low. Just turn a big dash-mounted rotary dial to easily change from 2WH to 4X4 and back, shifting on the fly. The console mounted and gated 5-speed stick is placed perfectly for ease of use. There is also a dash mounted button for a tow/haul mode that helps you when driving up or down a steep hill, delaying upshifts, and gaining easier downshifts for hauling the 9,100 pounds. The Armada's independent double-wishbone front and rear suspension is tight, yet gives a compliant ride over rough pavement and washboard off-road trails. It's designed to match the Armada's power and weight. This unique double-wishbone suspension utilizes big gas-charged shocks, strong front steel coil springs/rear air springs for self-leveling, and thick front/rear stabilizer bar to keep the front end flat when heading into a tight curve.

A precise and more communicative power rack & pinion steering system along with short front and rear overhangs make for even better handling on the road at speed. Stability is further enhanced with both traction control and a vehicle stability program that keeps unwanted wheel-spin to a minimum, keeping you on track. You can shut the system off if you want. Quickly slowing the big Armada down from speed are power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes - 12.6 inches at each wheel. Braking speed and control are enhanced with ABS, Brake Assist, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.

The all-new 2004 Nissan Pathfinder Armada rides on big 18X8 cast aluminum wheels that are wrapped around by big Goodyear P265/70R18 all-season radial tires for a comfortable ride - on or off the road. All four-doors open wide for easy entry and exit. Also helping with easy entry and exit are standard running boards and grab handles at each door. The rear liftgate is easy to use and comes with an optional power 'open-close' feature.

The interior is very roomy - room for up to eight adults. And when the second and third rows are folded flat, there is 96.9 cubic feet of cargo space. The front bucket seats are very comfortable and supportive with leather trim and an eight-way powered adjustments on the driver-side. My model also came with a power six-way front passenger seat.

All buttons, dials and levers are within easy reach. The big instrument cluster is easy to see and understand. The center console is very large and storage space can also be found in each door bottom, in the dual-cupholders, and big open bin just in front.

You have a choice of seating for the second row - either a split 60/40 bench or captains chairs with another large center console for storage. Other standard equipment in the Armada includes power-heated, power-remote side mirrors, big chrome finished front door handles, privacy glass, puddle lamps under the outside mirrors, Bose Audio AM-FM six-disc in-dash CD with 10 speakers, independent front & rear audio and climate control, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise-control buttons, heated front seats, power-adjustable pedals, fold-down front passenger seat back, overhead console for all three rows with six-dome lights, 28-gallon fuel tank, 10-cupholders, and two-bottle holders, six-cargo area tie-down points, four 12-volt power outlets, remote keyless entry, power door locks/windows, electro-chromic rearview mirror with compass heading and outside temperature readout, variable intermittent front and rear wipers/washers, theater lighting map lamps and thick-pile carpeting with floor mats at each door.

Standard safety features include supplemental roof-mounted curtain airbags with side impact & rollover protection for all three rows, Nissan advanced airbag system, front row supplemental side impact airbags, three-point safety belts for all passengers, LATCH system for children, tire pressure monitoring system, rear-sonar parking warning chimes, and vehicle security and immobilizer systems. The Armada is very formidable and very assuring on safety. The all-new Nissan Armada SUV comes to the battle fully loaded and ready to take on any of the competition. It probably will come down to brand loyalty. Full-size SUV owners are similar to full-size pickup truck owners, very loyal to the brand. Nissan has come up with a very good product to compete in this very lucrative yet very competitive segment of the automotive marketplace. With a starting price of $37,800.00, my fully loaded model came equipped with the optional DVD navigation, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning system, micro filter, sunroof and power liftgate, and was priced at $42,350.00. Only time will tell. A DVD Entertainment system is also optional. . © All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Nissan products, go to More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: Nissan Armada Price: $41,350.00 Engine type: 5.6 liters, DOHC, 23-valve V8 with aluminum block/heads Horsepower: 305 at 4,900 rpm Torque: 385 at 3,600 rpm Drive configuration: front engine/rear wheel drive/all-wheel drive Transmission type: Five-speed electronically controlled automatic/OD with haul/tow mode Front suspension: independent double-wishbones with gas-charged shocks, steel coil springs, stabilizer bar Rear suspension: independent double-wishbones with gas-charged shocks, self-leveling air springs, stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: 18x8 inch alloy wheels/265/70R18 all-season radial tires Brakes: front 12.6-inch discs rear: 12.6-inch discs ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake Force Distribution Overall length: 206.9 inches Overall width: 78.8 inches Overall height: 77.8 Curb weight: 5,051 pounds EPA mileage estimates: city/highway 13mpg/city, 19mpg/highway 0.60 mph: 8.2 seconds

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