2008 Nissan Armada


$7,852 - $9,909

2008 Nissan Armada Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2008 Nissan Armada was new.


Performance: 8.1

Performance, particularly power delivery, is a highlight of the 2008 Nissan Armada. Car and Driver  writes, "The throttle response rivals that of the excellent GM V8, an alluring burble pulses out the exhaust, and shifts of the five-speed transmission are almost undetectable."

The no-nonsense engine is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission - a powertrain combination that Car and Driver describes as "fantastic." The Washington Post explains, "Unlike many full-size SUVs, the big-engine Armada launches instead of lumbers when asked to run. In that regard, it brings a smile -- a happy expression that lasts all the way to the gas pump, where, at today's fuel prices, the grin quickly turns to grimace."

The Armada's ride is smoothest on the straightaway. The Arizona Republic finds, "On the highway, Armada cruises along effortlessly, the cabin feeling quiet and secure." Given its size, however, reviewers are largely impressed by its agility. Automobile Magazine praises the Armada's "confident handling," but concedes, "That said, the Armada is still a big, truck-based vehicle, and one decidedly happiest when tooling about in wide-open spaces, be they paved or not." The Kansas City Star is more succinct: "The Armada feels big and drives big."

Acceleration and Power

For such a big SUV, the Armada accelerates with startling ease. "It may look bulky," writes Car and Driver, "but the Armada almost leaps off the line when you stomp on the gas pedal, and there's a throaty growl from the exhaust that's music to the ears." The engine is a 5.6-liter V8 that creates 317 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque. It's paired with an automatic five-speed transmission. "Moderate to heavy acceleration yields a throaty sound that rivals the best from GM," reports Edmunds. "But it's not all show and no go, the Armada offers very impressive forward thrust." MSN claims, "Gosh, my head and those of my passengers were pressed back into the head restraints as I pressed the Armada's accelerator the first few times, because power came on so quickly."

The transmission receives largely favorable reviews. Motor Week says that, during acceleration, "power builds fast and smooth" and "shifts are firm and sharp." Auto Mall USA finds, "The five-speed automatic transmission takes full advantage of the engine's strong low-end torque. Having five gears to choose from makes the Armada very responsive and the transmission never hunts around for the right gear. It shifts smoothly and the close ratios eliminate abrupt downshifts." Earning low marks from reviewers -- not surprisingly -- is the Armada's fuel economy, which is just 12 mpg in the city and either 18 or 17 on the highway, for the rear- or all-wheel drive models, respectively.

Handling and Braking

Handling on the Armada is surprisingly deft. "Despite its formidable scale," argues Automobile Magazine, "overall control and controllability is impressive, with modest impact harshness, relatively minimal body roll, and no 'floaty' feel." Motor Week says, "Double wishbones at both ends with an independent rear make the big Armada surprisingly light on its feet." Nonetheless, as the Arizona Republic notes, "You can only do so much with a heavy, high-profile vehicle." U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman puts it like this: "Handling is about as nimble you can get in a 5,000-pound vehicle, which is to say the Armada splashes around the road a bit."

Steering is found to be adequate. Car and Driver writes, "The steering is pretty tight, without any slop." Kelley Blue Book concurs, saying, "The steering feel is taut and the Armada's short front-end makes it possible to cut close corners with confidence." Navigating the immense Armada at low speeds nonetheless proves a strange experience for some reviewers. The New York Times reports, "Around town, the truck's sheer scale and bulky design made me feel as if I were steering the Incredible Hulk."

The Armada comes with either rear- or all-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive system operates as a rear-wheel drive system, for the most part, but can transfer up to half of the engine's power to the front when conditions warrant. Cars.com explains, "The optional four-wheel drive is technically a full-time system, which means you can drive in a rear-drive mode (2WD) or switch, by means of a dial on the dashboard, to an automatic mode (AUTO) that drives all four wheels and can be used on dry pavement, unlike part-time four-wheel-drive systems." Even with all-wheel drive the Armada "is not well-suited to extreme off-roading," asserts About.com, "but it will do a fine job on the dirt road to Grandmother's house."

The Armada's brakes receive mixed reviews. Forbes contends, "Its standard four-wheel disc antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist are able to stop the charging Armada quickly and efficiently." MSN agrees, noting, "The brake pedal has a nice linear action, and stopping distances are short." Auto Mall USA, on the other hand, is among the minority of reviewers with qualms, writing, "The brakes don't seem to be fully up to the task of repeated hard braking," and arguing that this should be "a consideration when towing through mountainous areas."


With a tow package that's standard on the LE trim and optional on the SE trim, the Armada can tow 9,100 lbs as a rear-wheel drive model and 9,000 lbs as an all-wheel drive model. Even without a trailer attached, says the Detroit Free Press, "It's easy to believe the 9,000-pound towing limit." Forbes points out, "The Armada's automatic transmission includes a tow/haul mode that revises shift patterns to carry or pull heavy loads." Kelley Blue Book writes, "The Armada takes first place in the maximum towing capability category for light-duty, full-size SUVs."

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