Nissan Armadas Barre VT
South Burlington, VT
Saint Albans, VT
2004 Nissan Armada Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle
By Derek Price
Review of the 2004 Nissan Armada Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle
What was tested: 2004 Nissan Armada SE Off-Road 4x2
MSRP As Tested: $37,300
Vehicle Category: Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle
Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 13/18.
The Spanish were an ambitious bunch, at least in the 16th century.
That's when King Phillip II ordered 30,000 people onto 130 warships to create what he called an "invincible armada," the most powerful naval fleet in the world. It set sail in 1588 to invade and conquer England.
It turns out the armada never met Phil's lofty expectations, as barely half the fleet returned home after being ripped apart by Mother Nature and the English navy. Spain was forced to concede the armada wasn't invincible after all.
So why am I polluting this automotive space with a history lesson? Because a new Armada is invading America, this time launched by Nissan.
The Armada is a full frontal assault on the American automakers' most fortified region, the full-size SUV market. Its weapons include four-wheel drive, a brawny V8 engine, aggressive styling, and -- of course -- colossal size. And Nissan is hoping for better results than Spain had against England.
When you see the Armada, you immediately notice how unbelievably big it looks -- probably the same reaction the English had in 1588. It's wide, tall, and long, and its massive stance makes it stand out in a parking lot like a mountain peak in Kansas.
As you watch an Armada lumber down the road, it's just plain scary. Its aggressive, angry looking front end is as imposing as trucks come, complete with an egg-crate grille and giant swathe of chrome on the bumper. Its side profile is athletic like Barry Bonds and energetic like Richard Simmons to form a combination that looks pretty odd, but you know it's best not to poke fun at it.
Inside, the Armada is remarkably civilized for a vehicle with such brutish looks. Materials are nice, seats are comfy, controls are well placed, and there's plenty of space to stretch your legs and store your stuff.
In fact, there's room for eight full-size people. The back seat is the only place that feels cramped, but even that's more comfortable than in the American competition, including the Ford Expedition and Chevy Tahoe. It's still not quite as big as the mammoth Ford Excursion or Chevy Suburban, though.
Aside from its big size and in-your-face styling, the Armada's greatest strength is its drivetrain. It has a wonderful 5.6-liter, double overhead cam V8 that makes 305 horsepower and 385 foot-pounds of torque. Coupled with a smooth-shifting, five-speed automatic transmission, it's more responsive and accelerates faster than you'd expect in a beast this size.
The Armada has one obvious weakness: its ride. Despite having an independent rear suspension -- a configuration that, when properly designed, can make big SUVs feel almost like regular-size cars -- the ride is choppy, b...