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2004 Nissan Armada Road Test

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Nissan sets sail into the large SUV market

When a manufacturer enters a new segment, its vehicle name plays a significant role; after all, who would challenge the ruggedness of something named Tahoe, Expedition or Yukon? So, when Nissan decided to make its debut into the larger-than-life, goliath SUV market it chose the name Armada to represent its 5,013-pound giant. 

Let’s just hope this Armada doesn’t have the same destiny as its namesake: the Spanish Armada of 1588. For those history buffs out there, the Spanish Armada was Spains attempt to conquer England. 125 ships large, this floating brigade left Portugal in late May of 1588, heading for the British Isles. The short version is that when they arrived, the English fleet gave them a beating and what was left of the Armada limped back to Spain. Thus, marking the turning point between the era of Spanish world domination and the rise of Britain. Essentially, they came, they saw and they lost.

Of course, that’s history. Today’s Nissan Armada is a different story. Previously, Nissan has tested the SUV waters with smaller utility vehicles, like the Pathfinder and Xterra and, during the process, found a loyal following. Nissan research analysts decided to take these same fans and pose the question: what would make our SUVs more appealing? Bigger is better came the reply, and thus, Nissan responded by challenging the domestic-dominated large SUV market with their new 2004 Nissan Armada. 

, 2004 Nissan Armada Road Test
Source: cardomain.com

First impressions

If there is one thing for certain its the fact that the Armada is huge (you could probably fit a small boat in there with the seatbacks folded down). It overshadows its three main competitors Ford Expedition, Chevy Tahoe and Toyota Sequoia in wheelbase and comes in second, by one inch, in width to the Tahoe. With all seatbacks upright, the Armada offers 20 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row, 56.7 cubic feet behind row two and, with all the seats folded flat, there’s 97.1 cubes ready for luggage, sporting gear, dogs and practically anything else you need to haul.

Speaking of the Armadas generous cabin, passengers are spoiled with best-in-class second-row legroom (a full three-inches more than its competitors) and wide, leather-swathed seats. This open space is most noticeable when clamoring in and out and installing child safety seats and when escorting taller-than-average adults around town

Because the Armada is a vehicle made for pack rats, cubbyholes abound. They are everywhere; they’re in the door panels, in the console, and under the steering wheel. There is even a small armada of them along the ceiling. In addition to having enough bins for storing every imaginable toy, key chain, cell phone, and sunglasses, you’ll also find no less than twelve cupholders positioned throughout the cabin in various sizes capable of holding anything from a Big Gulp to 12-oz. Coke cans.

Category: $25,000 – $35,000 Minivan
Who should buy this car: A family looking for a minivan that is set apart from the rest
Comparable models in this class: Chevrolet Venture, Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Ford Freestar, Honda Odyssey, Mazda MPV, Mercury Monterey, Pontiac Montana, Toyota Sienna

Engine performance

In the large SUV market, a vehicle needs to not only tower over every other car on the road, but it also needs to have a muscular engine to back it up. After all, large SUVs are really enclosed trucks. And when it comes to trucks, the measuring tape focuses on two things: towing capability and engine performance; as such, the Nissan Armada has come prepared.

, 2004 Nissan Armada Road TestProducing a low, throaty rumble that’s often associated with domestic trucks rather than Japanese imports, the Armadas 5.6-liter, 32-valve DOHC V8 engine is responsible for unleashing 305 horses at 4,900 rpm. Left alone these mustangs are decent, but aren’t necessarily worthy of bragging rights. Enter 385 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm and you’re staring at a 9,100 towing capacity now that’s something to tell your friends about especially if they’re driving a Tahoe, Expedition or Sequoia.

Driving impressions

Weighing in at over two tons, piloting this King Kong can take some getting used to, with the most obvious hazard being tight urban spaces. We suggest avoiding close parking quarters, or if you do find yourself in a lot with narrow yellow lines, then you may consider taking up two spaces. Yes, this will annoy owners of sedans and sport wagons, but the alternative of accidentally smacking one of these smaller, four doors makes this approach seem more considerate than selfish. Note: during our drive, we found the radar parking assist to be a big help in alerting us to obstacles when we were backing out this heavy metal behemoth.

Around town, the Armada made an impression, not only on us but also on other drivers, as we seemed to garner more respect on the road: cars would yield to us when we merged, seemingly glad to move out of our way. Big vehicles make big impacts.

All in all, given the Nissan Armadas size, cabin layout and powertrain it looks as if this Armada will have a much better chance of challenging its rivals than its namesake. 

2004 Nissan Armada


Engine Type 3.5L Double overhead camshaft, 24 valve V6
Horsepower 240 @ 5,800 RPM
Torque 242 @ 4,400 RPM
Fuel Recommended Regular Unleaded.
Transmission Electronically-controlled 4-speed automatic
Drive Type Front-wheel drive
Tires – Standard P225/65HR16 all-season tires
Overall Length 204.1″
Wheelbase 124″
Width 77.6″
Turning Diameter 40 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight 4,012  lbs.
Fuel Tank 20.1 Gals.
Miles Per Gallon EPA city 19, hwy 26
Base Sticker Price $24,340 + $560 destination charge

Standard Equipment (Partial list)

  •     4-speed automatic transmission
  •     Privacy glass
  •     Roof rack
  •     Front and rear ventilated disc brakes
  •     4-wheel ABS
  •     Emergency braking assist
  •     Traction control
  •     Front, rear and third-row head airbags
  •     Automatic headlamps
  •     Tire pressure monitoring
  •     Cornering lights
  •     Power windows, mirrors & door locks
  •     Cruise control
  •     Tilt-adjustable steering wheel
  •     Front and rear air conditioning
  •     AM/FM in-dash single CD player stereo with 8 speakers

SL models also include: (Partial list)

  •     Alloy wheels
  •     Power sliding side door
  •     Rear power liftgate door
  •     8-way power driver seat
  •     Height adjustable pedals
  •     Overhead console with storage
  •     Universal remote transmitter for garage door
  •     Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  •     Rear volume controls for audio system

, 2004 Nissan Armada Road Test

SE models also include: (Partial list)

  •     5-speed automatic transmission
  •     Dual power sliding side doors
  •     Stability control
  •     Power glass sunroof
  •     Fixed glass rear sunroof
  •     Power opening rear quarter windows
  •     Dual front side-mounted airbags
  •     Rear parking sensors
  •     Leather upholstery
  •     Driver seat memory
  •     4-way power passenger seat
  •     Heated driver and front passenger seats
  •     Heated mirrors
  •     Dual-zone front climate control with rear air
  •     Bose premium brand in-dash 6 CD stereo system with 10 speakers

Major Available Options (Depends on model)

  •     Navigation System
  •     DVD Entertainment System
  •     Running Boards
  •     Sirius or XM Satellite Radio
  •     Tow Package
  •     Rear parking sensors
  •     Leather upholstery
  •     Skyview Roof
  •     6-Disc In-Dash CD

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