Grapple & Board: Nissan aims its cannons at the big ute market By BOB GRITZINGER (18:02:11 Aug. 21, 2003) You gotta hand it to these guys from Nissan. One minute they’re hard targeting the top of the full-size truck market with the Titan pickup, the next minute they’ve got the best of the big sport/utes in their sights with the Pathfinder Armada. Even the name sounds formidable, and it ought to, considering it is emblazoned on Nissan’s imposing new entry in the dreadnought-class SUV market. Pathfinder Armada represents the second vehicle line set to begin rolling out of Nissan’s shiny new $1.43 billion assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi. Actually, the SUV will beat its sister ship, the Titan, to dealerships by a few months. Titan is due by year-end; Armada arrives this fall. Like the Titan, the Armada features a new 5.6-liter aluminum-block 32-valve dohc V8 that cranks out 305 hp at 4900 rpm. In the Armada, however, torque increases to 385 lb-ft at 3600 (up 6 from the Titan), while towing capacity drops by 400 pounds to 9100. Armada also shares the Titan’s rugged boxed steel frame platform, five-speed automatic transmission, rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel antilock disc brakes and optional electronically controlled full-time four-wheel-drive system. Armada sports many of the Titan’s interior appointments and exterior styling touches, but adds an oddly forward-angled rear roof line that takes some getting used to. Aside from the obvious truck/SUV differences, Armada offers that key extra touch—fold-flat third-row seating—that requires a substantial departure from the Titan formula. Like the competition (take a peek under the rear of an Expedition, for comparison purposes), to make room to stash the third row, Nissan dispenses with the Titan’s solid rear axle and leaf springs and instead goes with fully independent double wishbones out back. Nissan folks note the arrangement also improves the SUV’s ride and reduces that dreaded suspension-induced “head toss” afflicting drivers of trucks and SUVs. Without track testing, we’ll withhold judgment on the suspension setup, other than to say you’ll never confuse this plus-5000-pound lunker with a sports sedan. Pathfinder Armada comes in SE, SE Off-Road and uplevel LE trim, in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive, priced from $35,000 to $45,000.