Nissan Pathfinder Armada
The engineers at Nissan must have been putting in lots of overtime lately. Along with introducing their new fullsize truck, the Titan, they also developed an all-new fullsize SUV for '04 called the Pathfinder Armada. Some of the Armada's parts are shared with the Titan, and this is a good thing, especially when it comes to what is found under the hood.
Powering the big Armada is the same 5.6L V-8 that powers the Titan. It produces a hefty 305 hp and 379 lb-ft of torque. Another part shared from the Titan is its five-speed automatic transmission that features a tow/haul mode.
Yet the Armada is not simply a Titan chassis with a different body slapped onto it. The Armada uses a boxed, steel frame that features independent suspension front and rear, where the Titan uses a rear solid axle. A full-time two-speed transfer case instantly distributes torque to all four wheels upon demand. Of course there is also a cavernous interior that features plenty of room and third-row seating. A four-wheeling package also is available--it uses Rancho shocks, along with bigger BFGoodrich tires.
What We Liked
On top of everyone's list of likes was the power provided by the 5.6L Endurance V-8. Step into the throttle and the big Armada gets up and goes, thanks to oodles of low-end torque that had our judges smiling with glee. The five-speed transmission that helps to control this plethora of power also received high marks from our judges. Its shifts were smooth and at the appropriate times to keep the Armada moving. Another mechanical aspect that everyone liked was the rack-and-pinion steering of the big Nissan. It gives good feel and is nicely weighted.
The massive interior of the Armada was also a favorite. The seats are comfortable, with lots of adjustment and support. A huge amount of legroom is also present for second-row occupants. There are also plenty of clever storage areas found throughout the interior. On top of that, the Armada is quiet and it rides nicely. A surprise was that the Armada also handles rather well for such a large, heavy SUV.
What We Didn't Like
While the Armada was a plush ride on the pavement, it didn't fare as well when the blacktop gave way to dirt. With independent suspension at every corner, it yielded minimal flex, which made the Armada lift tires almost everywhere on the trail. Luckily, the Armada's traction-control system worked well, but required too much wheelspin to engage. This meant that in some nasty sections, the only solution was to put the throttle down and hope for the best. The Armada is also just plain big for most trails. Maneuvering it through tight sections was difficult, and this was compounded by the fact that overhood visibility is poor.
The Armada is a great new SUV with lots of power and loads of interior room. It cruises down the highway with ease, and is plenty comfortable. However, if you plan to spend much time in the dirt, it is not the SUV for you.
Check It Out If:
You are looking for an SUV with lots of power and room.
Avoid It If:
You think independent suspension on every corner belongs on cars.
The Short Version
It's big, powerful and incredibly roomy. It would be a better four-wheeler if it shared more of the Titan's underpinnings.