The Nissan Armada is a sizable piece of equipment in which you feel the heft, yet it doesn't become an impediment. It drives like a really big, high car, a notable feat considering it has the strength of a truck frame underneath, more than 10 inches of ground clearance and a 4WD system that will get you off the road and not just through the snow. With tight steering and defined corners, it's also more maneuverable than you'd expect, on the trail or street, but pay attention to garage clearance signs.
The Titanium and Platinum models come with 20-inch wheels and Michelin lower-profile, road-biased tires. Typically a setup such as this exacts a penalty in ride comfort, road noise, isolation and so forth with nary a worthwhile gain in grip, but Nissan has paid impressive attention to noise and vibration issues. What we did notice with the 20-inch wheels is a slightly crisper response to the steering wheel.
Hundred-mile driving legs were dispatched in short order, stress-free to the point the six-foot passenger in back dozed off mid-day. Since off-road trucks are the only racing vehicles of this size and weight the Armada is a better cruiser than a sports car, though the independent rear end keeps it more stable and less influenced by bumps mid-corner than most competitors. Stability control is standard and barring driver inattention will never be felt without an outside influence.
One thing Nissan did lift from the Titan is the drivetrain, and it is a keeper. Based on its more relevant 385 pound-feet of torque, the Armada's 317-horsepower, 5.6-liter V8 is still the strongest standard engine in its class, although competitors are catching up. Mileage will typically range in the low-to-mid teens. Although it's not the most powerful SUV on the planet, the Armada's V8 and perfectly matched five-speed automatic make it very quick for its bulk and adept at pulling a crew of wakeboarders and their 6,000-pound boat. Max towing is 9,000 pounds, but better to go with a large, longer-wheelbase pickup if that's to be routine.
The brakes on all models feature the full complement of electronic assists. Two-wheel-drive models use traction control, and 4WD models offer a 4Auto setting designed for daily use regardless of weather or road conditions. With good winter tires, you could follow the National Guard through a blizzard.