Is there a better way to review a big SUV than a mixed-terrain road trip with the family? Nope, so that’s exactly what we did with the 2022 Nissan Armada.
Our test of the 2022 Nissan Armada SL was based on an 800+ mile spring break road trip from Boulder, Colo., to Santa Fe, N.M. We encountered sloppy, snowy roads on the way down on the freeway and took the highway through the mountains for the trip home.
This wasn’t a gear-heavy adventure (we stayed at the Four Seasons on another writing assignment), so we just had a handful of bags. We also took the Armada up to Eldora, our local ski hill, for a day. Even still, there was a lot we liked about how the Armada was configured to support more ambitious, wilderness-bound, adventures.
Let’s dive into how this big SUV treated my family and me.
2022 Nissan Armada SL Review
The Nissan Armada is technically in its second generation here in the United States. I say “technically” because the first generation launched in 2003 and was based on the Nissan Titan chassis.
When the second generation launched in 2006, the new Armada was basically the sixth generation of the Nissan Patrol — launched in 2010 in Saudi Arabia — which has been around since 1951. All that is to say, the Armada has a much longer off-road history in the form of the Patrol than the relatively new Armada nameplate.
The Nissan Armada received a stylistic update, both inside and out, for the 2021 model year. Externally, the Armada has new designs for the logo, grille, lights, and color options.
Internally, the center console and infotainment system were updated visually and now include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Nissan also made its “Safety Shield 360” camera view system a standard option.
The Armada comes in four trims: S, SV, SL, and Platinum. All four trims come with the long-serving, tried and true, 5.6L DOHC 32-valve V8 engine. It also has a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Wheel sizes increase with the trim levels from 18-inch, 20-inch, and 22-inch, respectively.
The Armada we tested was the SL ($59,710 base) with the $2,000 midnight package — lots of black instead of chrome — $390 Illuminated Kick Plates, and the $650 Captain’s Chairs Package. That brings the total cost to $64,630 with destination charges for the big SUV you see here.
The 2022 Nissan Armada handled better on dirt roads than on paved. SUVs always have to balance these conditions, and some do it better than others.
While driving down the highway, the steering felt twitchy at speed. I had to be especially mindful when making slight course alterations, like making lane changes or while exiting the freeway. Otherwise, it would jerk the vehicle and cause my passengers’ heads to bobble.
With my family in the vehicle, I take it pretty easy driving around town, so I’m not really pushing hard around corners and there wasn’t any noticeable body roll. But, when I was on my own and taking corners a little faster, significant body roll was noticeable, as with most SUVs.
My dirt road adventure was well suited for the 2022 Nissan Armada. Most of the snow had melted from my usual dirt road route near my house — rated a 4/10 on onX Offroad. Most of the other vehicles I encountered — it was a Saturday — were recreational side-by-sides (SxS).
The 20-inch alloy wheels — standard on the SL trim — rolled over everything nicely, and the 9.1-inch ground clearance prevented any bumping or scraping against the underside.
At the slower speeds on the dirt road, the steering did fine, and I was able to steer precisely where I wanted the wheels to strike as I dodged around larger rocks, holes, and trenches.
The accelerator wasn’t very smooth, either. And like the steering, I had to be more conscientious easing on the gas from a dead stop to avoid a jerky start — especially on paved roads with passengers. However, the 400-horsepower V8 engine really delivered when I needed to accelerate quickly to pass someone at highway speeds.
Again, off-road, the throttle modulation was easy to manage through and over the obstacles. Most of the off-road portion of my testing was a steady climb, so my foot was constantly on the gas.
While the 2022 Nissan Armada is plenty capable of hitting rougher dirt roads to get further along a rocky dirt track, it only has an approach angle of 21 degrees (20.8 degrees in the S & SV trims). That’s on the low end, just beating out the Kia Telluride (17 degrees) and Honda Pilot (19.7 degrees).
Towing With the Armada
Towing capacity is certainly the Armada’s strong point. With 8,500 pounds of towing ability, the Armada is no slouch and is barely bested by the Dodge Durango and Lincoln Navigator at 8,700 pounds, while the Ford Expedition makes a significant leap to 9,300 pounds to reign in this category. Most other SUVs are between 8,000 and 8,400 pounds.
The main place this small of a delta in towing capacity makes a difference will be how fast the vehicle can go up hills.
A 2-inch receiver, a 7-pin round plug, trailer brake controller, and trailer sway control all come standard with the SL and higher trims.
Armada Gear-Hauling Capabilities
The maximum payload of the vehicle is 1,570 pounds — plenty for just about any adventure. That includes using the roof rack, which is a feature Nissan gets high marks from me for.
Nissan chose rails with gaps underneath to accommodate strap-on style crossbars or to be used as tie-down points. Many vehicles come with rails integrated into the roof line where only specific crossbars can be used.
For hauling people, the Armada takes up to seven. The front two rows are very comfortable and the standard second-row three-person bench can be upgraded with the $650 Captain’s Chairs package. That drops the total seating to seven but comes with a padded center console, complete with storage and cup holders, instead of a middle seat.
The third row is very tight, and we would only use it for taking an extra person or two around town. No full-size human would want to be back there with their knees in their chest for long. Children who would normally use a booster seat in the second row may be the exception.
But then that third row (as always) significantly reduces the rear cargo space, which is why its use is ideal for around town, but not road trips. With the third row up the cargo space is a puny 16.5 cubic feet — enough for groceries or a small stack of carry-on-size bags.
Dropping the third row bumps the cargo space to 49.9 cubic feet — a manageable amount for a family-of-four camping trip.
And with all the back seats down, for those rare parent-only adventures, the Armada offers 95.4 cubic feet of cargo space — enough room to lay a bike flat.
Efficiency & Power
We never really expect large vehicles like this to get good gas mileage, and the 2022 Nissan Armada SL is no exception. The EPA puts it at a combined 15 mpg, 13 in the city, and 18 on the highway. Our experience proved this to be about right. The 26-gallon gas tank provided us with over 400 miles of range without towing anything.
To get this power, the engine of the Armada is its long-standing tried-and-true 5.6L V-8 with a smooth seven-speed automatic transmission. The engine produces up to 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque on premium fuel.
This power was appreciated when needing to punch the accelerator on the two-lane mountain roads to get around slower traffic, even with a full load of passengers and baggage.
Our Nissan Armada came with the SL trim, the third-highest of four available — the top being the Platinum. The SL trim includes a number of creature comforts like leather-appointed seats.
Our vehicle had the optional captain’s chairs package with a center console ($650), which drops the seating capacity from eight to seven in total. We also had the illuminated kick plates ($390) and the Midnight Edition Package ($1,990), which is pretty much entirely aesthetic.
The SL level and above also includes the 120v AC power outlet, which in the past has been one of the most useful features for writers on the road. But, with integrated USB-C ports, we’re able to keep our laptops humming without the inefficiencies of the inverter that backs the AC outlet.
Not limited to the SL version is the 12-volt socket in the cargo space where we usually plug in our Dometic cooler, which saves us a lot of space and (eventually) money.
Nissan Armada Comfort
The Nissan Armada SL comes with nearly all of the comfort options available. Think power-adjustable heated leather seats with lumbar support and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Missing are the seat cooling and heated steering wheel that comes with the Platinum trim.
Nevertheless, the cut of the seats was nice, and we remained comfortable for our entire experience in the Armada. All of the touch points like elbow rests on the center console and in the doors were nicely padded. And, I never felt myself squirming to find a more comfortable position for any reason other than to move my body some.
The Nissan Armada SL is mostly family-friendly. Nissan has the required Latch connection points for installing car seats, but the second-row captain’s chairs do not allow access to the third row while a child’s seat is installed in them.
If there’s no center console, then a passenger could wiggle their way through the captain’s chairs to get to the third row without removing one of the child car seats. Fortunately, our eldest is in a booster seat now, and that’s easy to pull out for third-row access.
Other family-friendly features include the rear climate control zone, moonroof, side step rails, rear door alert, and the required child-lock doors.
Nissan Armada SL: Overall Impressions
The Nissan Armada SL is well-equipped for group adventures in town with good seating capacity or in the wild with the Nissan Patrol pedigree. The interior is comfortable for long hauls and the build handles paved and dirt roads nicely.
While the Nissan Armada SL has a slightly above-average towing capacity, the cons are low gas mileage, a smaller cargo area, and average ground clearance. The base price of $59,710 sits in the middle of the pack for large SUVs, so as usual, it boils down to specific needs and the subjective feel for each driver.