Fans of imported cars are familiar with the term “JDM.” It stands for Japanese Domestic Market and usually means Japan or global-market models that are not available in the U.S. Such models carry a lot of cachet among import aficionados, and with the new federal allowance for “antique” (25 years or older), expect to see a few more early-’90s right-hand-drive models on the road. But if you don’t want an old metric beater, you’ll soon be able to buy a JDM SUV of sorts at your Nissan dealer. The 2017 Nissan Armada will be a familiar face to those that have traveled in the Middle East and South America and shows a suspicious resemblance to the Infiniti QX80. That’s because it’s essentially the same vehicle.
The 2017 Armada being a rebadged Patrol was somewhat of a surprise to industry watchers, many of whom were expecting an all-new fullsize SUV based on the new Titan. However, we’re not going to complain, as we’re fans of the Infiniti QX80 and have long noted its superiority to the U.S.-market Armada in design, sophistication, and technology. Critics may note that the current-generation Patrol has been out since 2011 and, by many measures, should be toward the end of its life cycle. That may be the case, but the new Armada still represents a meaningful upgrade over its predecessor in several key areas.
The first and most obvious improvement in the new Armada is its powertrain, adopting the updated direct-injected VK56VD 5.6L V-8 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission -- the same as used in the QX80 and the second powertrain option just announced for the Titan XD. Producing 390 hp and 401 lb-ft in this tune, the engine should provide ample thrust to the new Armada, as it does in the QX80. Another bonus is improved fuel economy. The outgoing Armada is rated at 12 city and 18 highway in 4WD form. The 2016 Infiniti QX80, for reference, is rated at 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway. Those figures still trail the class leaders Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition but are an improvement is an improvement nonetheless. Maximum towing capacity is 8,500 pounds -- about the same as a Tahoe.
Size-wise, the Armada is slightly larger than a Chevrolet Tahoe but smaller than a Suburban. Overall length is 208.9 inches, 4.9 inches longer than a Tahoe, and 15.5 inches shorter than the Suburban. Eight-passenger and seven-passenger versions will be offered.
As is now expected in the SUV segment, safety features and technologies are major selling points, and you can load up the new Armada with plenty of them, including forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, distance control, and forward emergency braking. Lane departure warning is also available, and of course, Nissan’s pioneering Around View Monitor is available as well.
The 2017 Armada will be offered in three trim levels (SV, SL and Platinum) and will be offered in 2WD and 4WD forms. All Armada models will offer standard satellite navigation and LED headlamp low beams and running lights. Unlike the outgoing Armada, which was built in Canton, Mississippi, the new model will come from Kyushu, Japan. However, it still beats with an American heart, with the 5.6L V-8 built in Decherd, Tennessee. The new Armada will be in Nissan dealerships this summer.