After a week in this behemoth, it was a little feature — an automotive do-dad, really — that stuck in my mind.
The 2018 Nissan Armada SUV has a cool, virtual rear-view mirror. It's one of those new, high-tech features that you just know will someday be standard issue. Ten years ago, for example, back-up cameras seemed exotic — but not today.
* Model: 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum 4WD
* Exterior color: Super Black
* Interior color: Tan
* Engine: 5.6-liter, V-8 engine
* Horsepower: 390
* Transmission: seven-speed automatic
* Fuel economy: 18 mpg highway, 13 mpg city
* Local Dealer: Mountain View Nissan, Nissan of Chattanooga East
* Price (as tested): $63,195
The Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV, which means that rearward visibility is important, especially in commuter traffic. Most rear-view mirrors are obstructed by headrests, pinched rear windows and kids' heads bobbing up and down. Nissan's new "Intelligent Rear-view Mirror" works with a rear-facing camera that captures a wide-angle, multi-lane view of what's happening behind you and projects it thought the rear-view mirror assembly.
About 10 years ago, people were predicting the demise of full-size SUVs. Their combination of high sticker price and poor fuel economy made them the dinosaurs of the age. Well, lower gas prices, low unemployment and a surging stock market have ushered in a new golden age for eight-passengers SUVs.
The giant Armada may not be the best-selling vehicle in the segment, but if you want a family hauler with a near-luxury level of refinement, vehicles like our 2018 Nissan Armada Platinum 4WD certainly get the job done.
Locally, Armadas are available at Mountain View Nissan in downtown Chattanooga, and Nissan of Chattanooga East on Chapman Road. Both dealerships had 2018 Armadas in stock late last week, although selection is limited.
WHAT IS IT? The Nissan Armada, assembled in Canton, Miss., is an eight-passenger full-size SUV that competes with the likes of Chevy Suburban and the Ford Expedition. It shares parts — and styling cues — with the Infinti QX90 SUV. In fact our tester, in Platinum trim, seems just as nice as the Infiniti for thousands of dollars less.
The Armada, Nissan's flagship SUV, is powered by a 390-horsepower, eight-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. It has a towing capacity of 8,500 pounds when properly equipped.
WHAT DOES IT COST? Our lavishly equipped tester has a sticker price of $63,195. In the real world, significant discounts are available on Armadas.
WHAT WE LIKED: We liked the Armada's imposing stance, Infiniti-quality interior, luscious 13-speaker Bose sound system, five USB ports, rear-seat entertainment system and that cool rear-view "mirror."
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: The step-up height is a bit of stretch, but that's the nature of the beast. This isn't your mother-in-law's Nissan Rogue. A panoramic moon roof would have been nice, and the grain in the wood inserts is a little busy for our taste.
WHY IT'S RIGHT FOR CHATTANOOGA: The powerful 5.6-liter V-8 engine is great for towing heavy loads up mountain grades.
BOTTOM LINE: The Armada checks all the boxes for large families; and generous pricing makes it a good alternative for Chattanooga SUV buyers shopping for value in a large SUV.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.
Correction: This story has been corrected to show the vehicle is assembled in Canton, Mississippi, not California.