Underpinning the 2017 Armada is a fully-independent suspension with double wishbones front and rear, twin-tube shock absorbers at each corner, and hydraulically-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Braking duties are taken care of by powerful four-wheel antilock disc brakes. Tire sizes are a sensible and off-road capable 275/60R20 regardless of trim – no ridiculously vulnerable 22-inch 50-series bling rims here, thanks very much. On the road the suspension provides a very comfortable ride and decent handling, although it felt a little floaty over some road surfaces. The traditional hydraulic power steering offers nice feedback, and overall for such a big SUV the Armada is remarkably athletic-feeling and pleasant to drive on the road.
We also got a chance to venture off-road, and here the Armada is thoroughly capable. North American versions lack some of the hardcore off-road features of their global cousins (there’s no locking rear diff or hill descent control, for instance) but the Armada does get proper four-wheel low-range gearing, with an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case offering Auto, 4H (high) and 4L (low) modes, and limited slip functionality thanks to Nissan’s ABLS (active brake limited slip) system. On the challenging test course – which featured steep hills with extreme angles of approach and departure, wickedly angled side slopes, and “elephant track” offset hummocks that had two wheels off the ground at times – the Armada powered confidently through it all with minimal fuss, drama, or wheelspin, and with the 4L mode providing enough engine braking that hill descent control wasn’t missed. Back on the road, Auto mode will operate in 2WD when conditions allow in order to maximize fuel economy.
Most large SUVs are sold as family-haulers so it’s inside where things really count, and here the Armada scores well. While U.S. buyers will have a choice of SV, SL or Platinum trim, Canadians get only SL and Platinum, with supple leather-upholstered seating for up to eight, or seven if you choose the second-row captain’s chairs available in Platinum trim. The front and second-row seats are comfortable and properly spacious – indeed quite limo-like in the second row – while the third row has decent access but is a less comfortable place to sit, with limited foot room and low seat squabs that leave longer-legged passengers with their knees sticking up. All seats have recline functionality, with power recline and folding for the third row (this latter feature is convenient, but annoyingly slow). There’s a reasonable 550 litres of cargo space behind the third-row seats, and 1,490 litres of space with the third row folded (it folds nice and flat too). With all seats folded you get 3,100 litres of space. In terms of in-cabin storage there’s an ample console storage bin and all the expected cupholders and cubbies.