A rose by any other name might still smell as sweet, but imagine your blind date, Gunther, stating he will be picking you up in his Ford Probe. In that moment you will quickly understand that names are important. Especially for cars.
The name assigned to a car must evoke the spirit of the model itself — think Mustang, Charger, or Thunderbird. But it’s not just animal names evoking horsepower and speed. Sometimes you want to evoke the smell of stale urine like Chrysler did with its New Yorker. And at least once, Volkswagen just gave up and called a car the “Thing,” which upon inspection is the perfect name.
There are also the plain-Jane names. For instance, BMW used to designate its cars by the displacement of the engine. For instance, a 3-series with a 2.8-liter engine was the 328.
But sometimes, car manufacturers get it wrong. There’s the aforementioned Probe, the Datsun Cedric, the Subaru Brat and my personal favorite, the Peugeot Bipper Tepee.
Nissan certainly got its name right when it dubbed its large SUV the Armada, because driving one can make you feel like you can overthrow the English navy. And at over 17-feet long and 75 inches high, it’s one of the biggest of the large SUVs. At first glance you could be convinced the entire Spanish Armada could fit inside.
Speaking of which, many manufacturers claim their three-row SUVs can fit eight, but in many instances this is not realistic unless the eight people in question happen to be two-feet tall. Though things are certainly tight with three passengers in the rear row, the Armada sat eight average-sized adults with no real issues.
With passengers in the third row, the Armada has 16.5-cubic feet of storage, meaning you can fit eight to go on a trip, but it’s advisable to pack lightly. With the third row flat, cargo space increases to nearly 50-cubic feet.
Hauling the Armada’s heft is a 5.6-liter V8 reeling out 390 horsepower. The V8 has enough grunt to get the Armada moving with ease and it roars nicely under acceleration, though the ride is quiet at cruising speeds.
While the V8 packs more punch compared than some other three-row SUVs, it also makes the Armada one the costliest at the tanks. In four-wheel drive versions, the V8 gets a combined 15 miles per gallon.
With its ability to haul eight and a maximum towing capacity of 8,500 pounds, the Nissan’s ride is quite soft. This makes for a sensibly smooth ride on highways and flat stretches of road, but things aren’t so pleasant when the tarmac isn’t level.
A back road I frequent on my daily commute has alternating stretches of new and old asphalt and cambered bumps that jostle. While the Nissan smoothed out the imperfections of the highway and major roads, it bounced around so much on this stretch of backroad I felt it should have been accompanied by a cartoonish tuba soundtrack.
The Armada handles reasonably well for a car of its size, though it does come with some expected body roll. The steering is incredibly light, which is a downfall when taking the Nissan down an undulating course, but it’s a godsend in parking lots. I was thoroughly surprised at how easily the Armada can navigate the tight squeeze of a parking garage.
There are plenty of creature comforts in the Armada, especially in the Platinum trim I tested which starts at $62,040.
The Platinum comes standard with heated seats in the front and middle row, a flat-folding third row, Bose audio, an 8-inch infotainment screen, and dual 7-inch headrest displays with headphones and DVD and USB ports.
The Platinum adds to its luxury features with leather appointed seats and wood-tone trim on the center console, however, the opulence comes to a grinding halt in a few areas.
The readout in the center of the instrument panel appears to be taken from a TI-83 calculator and there are toys that have better looking buttons than that of the Armada’s engine start/stop. The infotainment system can be difficult for simple tasks such as scanning radio stations and is a bit dated. These are of course minor criticisms, but when you are trying to create a luxury feel in the Platinum trim, these stand out like cockroaches in cream.
Overall, the Armada has its pitfalls, but provides a spacious interior with enough room for eight — provided you aren’t hauling an offensive line — plenty of creature comforts, V8 power and a generally comfortable ride. But those in the market for a large SUV may want to shop around to ensure the Armada is the right ship for them.