Nissan Pathfinder Armada Review

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Yes, it's another one of those lumbering leviathans whose sole purpose in life is to Hoover-up the world's precious oil reserves and belch-out planet killing hydrocarbons– until and unless it mows down a bunch of blameless economy car drivers. Actually, Nissan designed the full-size Pathfinder Armada SUV to transport seven/eight people in comfort, safety and style. So let's cut the automaker a bit of slack, delete the letter combo "PC" from the PC and get on with it, shall we?

It's not as easy as it sounds. C'mon, an "Armada"? Didn't anyone have the cojones to remind Nissan Supremo Carl Ghosn that the word "armada" has been a synonym for naval military disaster since 1588? Granted, the average American's knowledge of European maritime history is only slightly better than their grasp of nuclear particle physics. But it's still an inauspicious name– especially for families mounting an amphibious assault on their local pool.

The Armada's gi-normous exterior goes some way towards alleviating superstitious safety qualms. The SUV's big, bold design inspires immediate confidence. Although the Armada shares its front grill with Nissan's Titan pickup, the company's metal crafters drew heavily on automotive styling cues to make the Armada look both manageable and, gulp, sporty. The Audi-style flared haunches are a bit much, and the teardrop side windows clash with the square rear glass, but it's still the least brick-like behemoth money can buy.

The Armada is also the longest vehicle in its class, measuring 17'41" from prow to stern. After focus grouping American SUV owners, Nissan decided to use the extra space to separate the truck's accommodation into two classes: Business (rows one and two) and Steerage (row three). While relegating the sprogs to the back of the bus is a longstanding convention, it's worth remembering that from small children sullen teenagers one day grow. A fairer distribution of space would have mollified the hormonally-challenged amongst us, and liberated some much needed cargo capacity.

Luckily, none of the Armada's many occupants face luxury deprivation– provided buyers tick the little box marked "DVD Entertainment". The seven-inch drop-down TV screen costs an extra $1600, but calling the DVD system an "option" is a complete misnomer. Electric seats, sunroof, BOSE stereo, satellite radio– those toys you can [just about] live without. But you can NOT expect to ferry six children in a DVD-less SUV and maintain sanity. The test vehicle was so deprived, considerably limiting our effective driving range.

Just as well, then, that the Armada packs a 5.6-liter V8. The aluminum-alloy DOHC engine cranks-out 305hp. and 385ft.-lbs. of torque. That's sufficient mechanical motivation to propel the Armada from standstill to 60mph in 8.25 seconds. More importantly, the variable intake powerplant is coupled to one of the smoothest five-speed automatic transmissions known to mankind. Up hill and dale, across highway and byway, the Armada is never short of user-friendly urge.

Needless to say, corners are best taken at sensible speeds. Although the Armada has an independent rear suspension (it's what all the best SUV's are wearing these days), its extra-long wheelbase and 5000lbs. curb weight translate into a fidgety ride over broken pavement. Take a section of rough roadway at speed and you'll experience the dry surface equivalent of hydroplaning. If that section is curved, and you're pedal to the metal, well, you're a nut case who's ignored both common sense and that funny feeling you get when a great deal of weight wants to go sideways.

In a straight line, no problem. The faster you go, the better the ride. The Armada will cruise in air conditioned comfort at 80+mph without the slightest hesitation in its power delivery or the smallest disturbance to your overall sense of well-being. The engine-speed sensitive steering is a bit numb and the brakes a touch wooden, but I reckon the genre's core clientele wouldn't have it any other way.

There's only one major blot on the SUV's all-important cruising copybook: the engine note. At idle, the Armada sounds like its holstering a 70's era V8. Give the gas pedal a proper pasting and she unleashes a deep-throated mechanical growl. The aural aggression is a pleasant surprise for a vehicle of this type… until it isn't. Once you get up to speed, the slightest touch on the Armada's go pedal creates a moaning noise that's a dead ringer for one of Scooby Doo's ghostly antagonists. The constant whoooing mars the brain dead pleasures of long distance auto-pilot.

Otherwise, the $35k-ish Pathfinder Armada is a faultless vessel, save its relentless appetite for fuel. Environmentalists will clock the numbers, laugh at the irony of the name and cluck their tongues in disapproval. But hey, if you're OK with that, so am I. Though ill-fated, the Spanish Armada was a bold move by a clever king. Just like its automotive namesake.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Bear Bear on Mar 22, 2007

    I personally own this and my wife loves it.Althought the 2005 model was rated at a mere 305 h.p. and 385 lbs. ft. torque this is a mean boulevard brawler.don't believe it, ask any one who owns a Dodge Durango Hemi ( 300 lbs. lighter by the way ) and the Armada is faster to 0-60 and in the quarter mile.This beast is actually underrated and is putting out more in the neighborhood of 340-350 crank horse power ( dyno proven of course), and lest you forget it can tow a whopping 9,100 pounds and 90% of the torque is generated under 2000 R.P.M. We had the luxury of purchasing the top model LE version with the DVD based navigation and X.M. radio all factory with the 10 speaker Bose and it is phenominal.All this in addition to the rear power lift gate and back-up camera which were not available on any other S.U.V. at the time and this was way ahead in terms of equipment, although now you can get these options on most 2007 S.U.V. models now but at a much higher cost.The sticker price was $45,110.00 and with the discount that we got it was a bargain and to get anything else in this segment you would pay 50k plus.For comparison purposes the second row seat is very generous compared to the other full size and has more room for your legs to stretch out.All seats fold flat and is extremely easy to get to the 3rd seat because of the B-Pillar design being arched back instead of the traditional front where your head can go bonk if you are not careful.As far as looks go I have to admit at first it did seem abit awkward, but after owning it frr six months it is actually a good looking rig.You see up until now there really wasn't a full size Japanese S.U.V. competitor ( I know the Sequoia) but the Sequoia was not up to the task of competing with the towing and power capabilities although this is a great rig.The Armada however out performed expectations compared to the domestic market and it did it with blunt force to the egoes of the domestic 3.I guess what I am trying to say is the Armada for the most part has alot of goodies that out rank expectations and is in fact a good 1st true competitor Japanese rig that can finally compete with the complacent domestic 3 and given enough time will do exactly to cars did (Japanese of course) and will soon become an authority on what a full size rig should be.

    • Ajla Ajla on Mar 24, 2023

      " and given enough time will do exactly to cars did (Japanese of course) and will soon become an authority on what a full size rig should be."

      Spoilers from the future. This didn't happen.

  • Tassos Jong-iL The Peninsula of One Korea.
  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
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  • Clark The Ring (Nürburgring) is the only race track I've driven on. That was 1985 or 1986 with my '73 Fiat Spider (and my not-so-happy girlfriend). So I made the Karussell (today: Caracciola Karussell, which I believe the author meant; there is another one: Kleines Karussell).
  • AZFelix This article takes me back to racing electric slot cars with friends on tracks laid out in the basement. Periodically your car would stop due to lost connections or from flying off the track and you would have to dash over to it and set it right. In the mean time your competitor would race ahead until faced with a similar problem. It seemed like you were struggling harder to keep from losing than trying to win. Fun times.“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” Mark Twain