2009 Nissan Armada LE 4x4

Jean Jennings Sam Smith Marc Noordeloos David Gluckman
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2009  Nissan Armada LE 4x4

There's an old Frank and Troise cartoon from the mid-'90s that I think of any time I get behind the wheel of an Armada. A handful of people are shown riding in a truck the size of a small house, and it's uglier than a monkey's armpit - grilles everywhere, brush bars on top of brush bars, outsized and ridiculous stuff tacked to every corner. I can remember reading it at the time and thinking, "Wow. That's ridiculous. Huge, stupid, ugly, slow, and ugly. Good thing no one will ever build anything that obnoxious."

I wouldn't call the Armada obnoxious, but it's dang close - its styling reminds me of Homer Simpson's Canyonero or maybe the weirdly shaped, jokelike SUVs that get parked next to a Barbie Malibu Playhouse. It's almost a caricature of everything SUV haters hate about SUVs.

Nevertheless, the Armada is an enormously good deal (and you can't tell me that, in this day and age, people aren't getting these things for way under sticker). If big SUVs are your thing, you'd be hard-pressed to find more features and luxury and flat-out hippie-stomping size for the price.

Functionally, however, the Armada needs some help. The interior is nice and decently well-finished, but as Marc pointed out, it's a tad on the flimsy and cost-cut side. Sight lines aren't that great - there's a huge three-quarter blind spot - and steering, suspension, and transmission behavior are awfully truckish. Does the near-bargain MSRP make up for last-century bones, a relatively inefficient interior, and the evil glares you get from tree-huggers on the street? Or, for that matter, an atrocious 12-mpg city fuel economy rating? I don't think so, but the Armada's mere existence is proof positive that when it comes to buying a car, sense and sensibility are rarely on the top of most peoples' want lists.

Sam Smith, Associate Editor

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