Road Test - 2004 Nissan Pathfinder Armada LE 2WD

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Sep 10, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    It looks a lot like someone just declared war.

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    BY LARRY WEBSTER
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY AARON KILEY
    October 2003

    If there's one thing Ford and GM have going for them, it's their full-size pickups and large sport-utility vehicles that share a common platform. Those automakers earn lavish profits on these relatively simple vehicles that sell, in some versions, for upwards of $50,000. Toyota has drawn a bead on that business with its Tundra and Sequoia over the past few years. Now those profits may soon be squeezed further when Nissan's common-platform full-size pickup, the Titan, and big sport-utility, the Pathfinder Armada seen here, hit dealerships this fall.

    Armada? Titan? Did we miss the declaration of war? Nissan says it had to establish a strong macho image to convince traditional truck buyers that both vehicles are in fact trucks and not converted cars. The Armada shares its steel ladder frame with the Titan and has the dimensions to fit in with the big guys. Although the 206.9-inch-long Armada is shorter than the 219.3-inch-long Chevy Suburban, it has about an inch on the Ford Expedition and 10 inches on the base Chevy Tahoe, two of its chief competitors. Its 123.2-inch wheelbase is 7.2 inches longer than the Tahoe's and 4.2 inches longer than the Expedition's. And there is nothing subtle on the outside of this thing. From the flared fenders to the huge chrome grille, the Armada is only a few notches down the butch ladder from the Hummer H2.

    The Armada puts its size to good use. A third row seats three, and the middle row is available with either a pair of buckets and a removable center console or a three-body bench, so the big ute can haul at least seven people and possibly eight.

    It's extremely roomy inside. The second row can comfortably fit an NBA forward, and the third row, which can accommodate adults, is raised about three inches so those in the back of the bus can see ahead.


    Entry to that third row is via the fold-and-tumble second row, and the large rear doors make it easy to get in and out. When it's not needed, the third row folds flat, as does the second row. A nice touch is that there's no need to remove the headrests before folding, but the resultant floor is not like a continuous piece of plywood—rather, there's a small valley between the two rows. With all the seats folded, there are 97 cubic feet of space, eight fewer than in the Tahoe (with the third seat removed) and 14 fewer than in the Expedition.

    If that's not enough space, you could always tow the rest of your stuff. The maximum towing capacity is 9100 pounds, with an optional towing package that includes a shorter final-drive ratio (3.36:1 versus 2.94:1) and load-leveling rear air shocks. We didn't get a chance to tug that kind of weight, but the new V-8 engine certainly feels up to it.

    The V-8 shares the double-overhead-cam and four-valves-per-cylinder layout of other Nissan engines, but it was specifically designed for use in the Armada and Titan. Displacing 5.6 liters, the engine has an aluminum block and large coolant passages that reduce engine temperatures when towing. It produces 305 horsepower at 4900 rpm and 385 pound-feet of torque at 3600 rpm. (The Expedition's 5.4-liter V-8 makes 260 horsepower and 350 pound-feet, and Chevy's 5.3-liter V-8 produces 295 horsepower and 330 pound-feet.) Nissan says 90 percent of the V-8's torque potential is available below 2500 rpm.

    A five-speed automatic transmission—the first in this big class—is the only transmission available; the Armada is available in rear- or four-wheel drive. Those latter models have a full-time system with a center differential that uses an electrohydraulic clutch to automatically route up to 50 percent of engine torque to the front wheels when rear-wheel slip is detected. There's also a two-speed transfer case that features a low-range gear for off-road crawling.

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    Our rear-wheel-drive test vehicle didn't have the extra weight of the four-wheel-drive system, but it still weighed more than two-and-a-half tons (5274 pounds). Despite that big butt, the Armada was deceivingly quick. It ran to 60 mph: in only 7.0 seconds and cleared the quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds at 89 mph:. To give you an idea of how good that is, in August 2002 we compared a Ford Expedition XLT, a GMC Yukon XL SLT, a Toyota Sequoia Limited V-8 AWD, and a Chevy Tahoe LT ("Living Large"). The quickest of that group, the GMC Yukon, needed 8.2 seconds to reach 60 mph: and did the quarter in 16.5 seconds at 85 mph:.

    The Armada and the Titan use the same unequal-length control-arm front suspension, but the Armada's rear swaps a rigid axle for an independent suspension that also uses unequal-length control arms. Once we switched off its standard stability-control system, the Armada held on for 0.73 g on the skidpad, which was at least 0.03 g better than the "Living Large" trucks.

    Slinging it around the skidpad was not an unpleasant exercise—better than you'd expect for a big fat guy. And it was a surprise how accurately we could place the big rig. Even on confined city streets, we never worried about clipping a curb. The steering is pretty tight, without any slop. The ride is a tad firm but not harsh, and there's surprisingly little body roll.

    From the tall perch of the driver's seat, it's tough to see the front corners because the hood slopes steeply away from the windshield. Fortunately, the Armada feels smaller than it is. The powertrain is fantastic. The throttle response rivals that of the excellent GM V-8, an alluring burble pulses out the exhaust, and shifts of the five-speed transmission are almost undetectable.

    Being Nissan's first large ute, the Armada was prone to a few miscues. For one, the jacked-up stance may look tough, but it makes the rear cargo area hard to reach. The load floor is at waist level, so putting anything back there is a big stretch, and you can't reach the third-row seatback to raise it from its folded position. You have to climb in from the second row to raise it.

    We also think the interior suffers from the Rubbermaid syndrome—in other words, it looks a little bland for a truck that will start at about $35,000. These are niggles, though, and Nissan has pretty much nailed the big stuff: size, ride, handling, and powertrain.

    Prices are estimated to range up to $45,000 for a loaded Armada, about the same as for a similarly equipped Expedition or Tahoe. Three months after the Armada rolls out, Infiniti will debut its own version that should address the bland-interior-trim issue. Expect the luxury division's truck to cost more than $50,000.

    Stay tuned for the upcoming comparison test that will uncover exactly how the Armada stacks up.

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    Highs: Rightly sized for a big ute, muscular V-8 and smooth tranny, NASCAR exhaust, acceleration times that would be good for a sedan.

    Lows: High load floor, a bit of a stretch to reach portions of the dash, third-row passengers report back-of-the-bus bounciness.

    The Verdict: A worthy competitor to the Expedition and Tahoe/Yukon that should make Ford and GM shiver.

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    COUNTERPOINT

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    ANDRÉ IDZIKOWSKI
    Massive, that's the word a lot of people uttered when they found out the Armada was a Nissan. Most people couldn't believe something that looks so big came from a Japanese manufacturer. What surprised us was the Armada's lively straight-line performance and composed road manners. It may look bulky, but the Armada almost leaps off the line when you stomp on the gas pedal, and there's a throaty growl from the exhaust that's music to the ears. Slowing the Armada down was also easy, the brakes worked smoothly, and the pedal's response felt very linear. But a vehicle this large really should have more headroom in the third row.

    AARON ROBINSON
    Large sport-utes are more interesting to economists than enthusiasts, so pardon me if the Armada and its no-doubt impressive profit-generating power put my hyperbole right to sleep. What is there to like? The Clydesdales under the hood make for big thrust and a mighty towing capacity. There's plenty of space inside, although the Armada's height off the ground will feel comfortable only to oil-platform workers. The ride is relaxed and the handling benign. The styling is roughly handsome, and the sheer size is—wait, I feel my hyperbole stirring—gargantuan, elephantine, hippopotamic, dinosaurian, Brobdingnagian, humongous . . .

    FRANK MARKUS
    I'm beginning to see a pattern here. Nissan arrives late in a new segment and storms in with the sportiest offering in the class. I know, ascribing the s-word to a vehicle this gigantic seems a stretch, but in my brief overnight drive I found myself unable to resist floorboarding the accelerator after every stop, just to drink in the sweet NASCAR-inspired V-8 roar and enjoy the 7.0-second acceleration (which feels plenty quick from way up there). The steering is tight and responsive, although it commands tires that howl at low cornering loads. The brakes are firm and reassuring. First impressions suggest the Armada's a more satisfying driver than the reigning champ Tahoe/Yukon. Bring on the comparo!

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    C/D TEST RESULTS

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    ACCELERATION (Seconds)
    Zero to 30 mph: 2.3
    40 mph: 3.6
    50 mph: 5.2
    60 mph: 7.0
    70 mph: 9.5
    80 mph: 12.4
    90 mph: 15.8
    100 mph: 21.3
    110 mph: 29.5
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 7.2 Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 3.7
    50-70 mph: 5.1
    Standing 1/4-mile: 15.5 sec @ 89 mph
    Top speed (governor limited): 112 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 196 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.73 g
    Understeer: moderate


    ESTIMATED FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 14 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 20 mpg
    C/D-observed: 15 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 43 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 74 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 70 dBA

    NISSAN PATHFINDER ARMADA LE
    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 5-door wagon
    Estimated price as tested: $43,000

    [​IMG]

    ENGINE
    Type: V-8, aluminum block and heads
    Bore x stroke: 3.86 x 3.62 in, 98.0 x 92.0mm
    Displacement: 339 cu in, 5552cc
    Compression ratio: 9.8:1
    Fuel-delivery system: port fuel injection
    Valve gear chain-driven double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder
    Power (SAE net): 305 bhp @ 4900 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 385 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm

    Redline: 6100 rpm

    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 5-speed automatic
    Final-drive ratio: 3.36:1


    Gear ... Ratio ... Mph/1000 rpm ... Max. test speed
    I ... 3.83 ... 7.3 ... 45 mph (6100 rpm)
    II ... 2.37 ... 11.8 ... 72 mph (6100 rpm)
    III ... 1.52 ... 18.4 ... 112 mph (6100 rpm)
    IV ... 1.00 ... 27.9 ... 112 mph (4000 rpm)
    V ... 0.83 ... 33.5 ... 112 mph (3350 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 123.2 in
    Track, front/rear: 67.5/67.5 in
    Length/width/height: 206.9/78.8/75.7 in
    Ground clearance: 10.7 in
    Drag area, Cd (0.37) x frontal area (34.7 sq ft): 12.8 sq ft
    Curb weight: 5274 lb
    Weight distribution, front/rear: 51.6/48.4%

    Curb weight per horsepower: 17.3 lb
    Fuel capacity: 28.0 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: full-length frame
    Body: material welded steel stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 65 cu ft middle seat 63 cu ft
    rear seat: 39 cu ft
    cargo volume, seats up/down: 20/97 cu ft
    Practical cargo room, length of pipe: 152.5 in
    largest sheet of plywood: 84.0 x 49.0 in
    no. of 10 x 10 x 16-in boxes, seats up/down: 10/72 cu ft
    Front-seat adjustments fore and aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height
    Restraint systems, front manual 3-point belts; driver and passenger front, side, and curtain airbags, middle manual 3-point belts, curtain airbags, rear manual 3-point belts, outboard curtain airbags

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind, unequal-length control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    Rear: ind, unequal-length control arms and a toe-control link, coil springs, automatically leveling shock absorbers, anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion, with variable power-assist
    Steering ratio: 19.5:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 3.1
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 41.0 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist, anti-lock control,and electronic panic assist
    Front/rear 12.6 x 1.0-in vented disc/12.6 x 0.6-in disc

    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size/type: 8.0 x 18 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: Continental ContiTrac SUV, P265/70SR-18
    Test inflation pressures, front/rear: 35/35 psi
    Spare: full size on aluminum wheel

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    :cool:

    Horrible choice of tires though.
     
  3. TheRocMan

    TheRocMan Guest

    it can smoke civics :eek3: but its 2wd :ugh: and ugly
     
  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Hideous, and pretty pricey for a 2WD.
     
  5. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    That's one fast fucking tank!:eek3:

    Looks like it could hit about 130 if it wasn't limited too.

    Looks pretty nice too, though not Expedition good looking.
     
  6. iZero

    iZero Guest

    :bowdown: That this is quicker than even I expected. Just wait for the same motor to show up in the lighter Titan.
     
  7. mucky

    mucky .

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    Nice powertrain. The front and interior looks good, but from the B-pillar on back is hideous. :barf:


    I rather be driving a Land Cruiser or Sequoia.
     
  8. Mr.Fusion

    Mr.Fusion feast upon my magnificence

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  9. iZero

    iZero Guest

    The GMC Yukon SLT 2WD and Chevrolet Tahoe LT 2WD cost about the same when equipped in a similar manner. The Yukon and Tahoe are much smaller, have weaker motors, and lack third row seating all together. Keep in mind, the Armada tested was an LE, which is the highest trim level, and thus the most expensive.
     
  10. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    2WD LT - $41,561.00.

    Nissan isn't undercutting anybody for being the new and unproven (and stylistically challenged) kid on the block, but that seems to be the trend these days I guess.

    One thing is for sure after reading this, the Titan will likely be a pretty fast truck. Probably faster than the new F-150.
     
  11. GhettoCivic

    GhettoCivic Evil Monkey

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    personally i'd give up some technology to get a much much better looking truck (IMO of course).

    I believe i'd get a used Navigator if i was going to get an expensive-ass SUV
     
  12. iZero

    iZero Guest

    Don't forget to add the automatic air-leveling suspension for $1,120 and the sunroof, Stabilitrak, steering wheel controls, and side air-bag package for another $1,100. If you want 17 inch wheels with the Chevy, that's another $125 minimum. You have now ended up with a $43,201 Tahoe LT 2WD.
     
  13. Carl Brutananadilewski

    Carl Brutananadilewski Active Member

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    One word: UGLY. :barf:

    But, there are a lot of people that like oogley cars (like many new Nissans :o), so it will be a big seller. Sounds like a more than competant powertrain, but we'll see what happens when some of the domestics re-design their SUVs. We all know trucks and SUV's are what domestics do best, so this segment might actually get interesting :eek3:.
     
  14. bokhan

    bokhan i love you

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    frumunda cheese~!
    love it :o
     
  15. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    I hope there will be a higer perfromance version of theTitan to smoke BLoGs ugly ass truck with.
     
  16. iZero

    iZero Guest

    The Titan should be faster than his truck was stock. It wouldn't suprise me if the Crew Cab 4WD (the heaviest model) could as well. Nissan has already said there is plenty of room under the hood for a supercharger.
     
  17. Nemesis_152

    Nemesis_152 I'm a delicate desert flower from Arizona.

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    oh my ugly fuck.
     
  18. Gundam

    Gundam Tell Drama he's on my to do list, right after inse

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    That shit is faster then my car :wtc:
     
  19. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    Nissan doesn't fuck around. :eek3:
     
  20. SimpleMan

    SimpleMan Yeti is watching you post

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    My gf said, "It looks like a cross between a Excursion and a Element".


    :rofl:
     
  21. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    Well, she's a girl. I expect a mentality like mucky's from a girl.
     
  22. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Bump for Day Crew.
     
  23. BitchAss

    BitchAss Let's drop bombs... OT Supporter

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    the QX56 will be damn nice.... good competition for the navigator and escalade.
     
  24. Yoritomo

    Yoritomo dad's jar chimer

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    Now we just need a G56 Coupe.

    :x:
     
  25. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    GT-R
     

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