With a fresh face and enhanced capabilities, the 2021 Nissan Armada aims to stay relevant against other large three-row SUVs. Its modernized mug plus a sprinkling of styling updates help it compete for attention with the redesigned Chevy Tahoeand GMC Yukon, which together lord over the segment thanks to their unrivaled popularity. The Nissan pushes back with more standard driver assists, a larger touchscreen infotainment system, and slightly higher max tow ratings. The Armada’s standard V-8 is slightly more powerful than before and we also expect that its fully independent suspension will once again provide a supple ride. Fuel economy remains subpar and—unlike the Chevy, GMC, or Ford Expedition—there’s no long-wheelbase model, but otherwise the 2021 Armada deserves attention.
What’s New for 2021?
The Armada gets a significant makeover for 2021, starting with a squarer front end featuring prominent headlights. The design revisions reach out back, too, with a new bumper and taillights that are connected by a continuous trim piece. There’s also a newly available Midnight Edition with blacked-out trim. Inside, Nissan redesigned the center stack and added a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay. The gauge cluster comes with a new 7.0-inch color display that further modernizes the cabin. Along with an updated center console and new interior-material options, the Armada lineup gets newly standard active safety features, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and more. Nissan also boosted the V-8’s horsepower from 390 to 400 (with Premium fuel); torque rises from 394 to 413 lb-ft.
We think the mid-level SL trim is the best value. In addition to all the desirable standard features it inherits from the base SV model, it comes with a 13-speaker Bose audio system, 20-inch rims, leather interior appointments, a power liftgate, remote start, and a sunroof. The SL also unlocks the optional second-row captain’s chairs, which we’d add.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
A powerful 5.6-liter V-8 with a civilized seven-speed automatic transmission is the Armada’s only powertrain. The engine makes up to 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque on premium fuel. It pairs with either rear- or all-wheel drive, and every model can tow 8500 pounds. We haven’t tested a 2021 Armada with the extra power, but the last version we drove had satisfying thrust and an exhaust system that made hearty sounds. Despite its large proportions, the Armada handled surprisingly well thanks to its fully independent suspension. Our test car had a comfy, quiet ride even though it rolled on 20-inch wheels (18-inchers are standard). Its soft-riding nature didn’t negatively affect our sense of control, but its steering was imprecise and slow to react, which allowed the SUV to wander on the highway like a member of its Spanish namesake. Along with impressive results in our emergency-braking test, the Nissan’s brake pedal delivered good feel and consistent feedback.