Nissan Armada, The Patrol for America
2022 Armada Driving
Having recently come off of a makeover in 2021, the 2022 Armada remains largely unchanged. The 5.6-liter V8 puts out 400 horsepower and 413 foot-pounds of torque. The V8 is extremely smooth and produces a stunning sound when run up to its redline.
While many Nissan vehicles now have excellent 9-speed automatics, the Armada is still using a 7-speed. The 9-speed offers a significantly lower first gear, which affects launching from a stop while towing. Other than that, the 7-speed isn’t missing out on much.
Nissan doesn’t try to hide the mass of the Armada. It feels big, it looks big, and it drives big. This has benefits and drawbacks. On the open highway, the Armada glides along effortlessly and provides the driver with a commanding view. On curvy mountain roads, there is a lot of body lean, which requires the driver to slow down. Negotiating tight parking lots can be difficult as well.
Towing with the 2022 Armada
When towing, the Armada performs great. We pulled a roughly 5,000 pound boat up 8% grades without breaking a sweat. The platform is large and heavy, which makes it stable for towing. We have no doubts that the Armada would handle its 8,500 pound maximum towing capacity without issues.
Patrol vs Armada
The Patrol is known around the world for its rough terrain durability and capability. While the Armada is largely based off of the global Patrol platform, it lacks some important features for the US market.
HBMC (Hydraulic Body Motion Control) is a hydraulic-based system with a cylinder at each wheel. For on-road driving, the system reduces body lean and nose dive when cornering and braking. For rough roads, or when hitting potholes in pavement, HBMC increases wheel travel for a smoother ride and better traction. This system is available on the Patrol but not on the Armada.
Worldwide, the Patrol is available with large front and rear differentials with strong cases. Adding to that is a limited slip or electronically locking rear differential. In the Armada, the front differential ring gear is smaller by over ¾ of an inch, with smaller axle shafts and an aluminum housing. It’s a similar story for the rear of the armada with a ¾-inch smaller ring gear and smaller axle shafts. The Armada is not available with a locking or limited slip rear differential.
Another important part of the differentials are the gear ratios. For the Armada, the final drive ratio is 2.94:1, while in the Patrol the final drive ratio is 3.36:1. This means that the Armada is tuned for better fuel mileage when driving on the highway, and the Patrol is tuned for better off-road control and towing capacity.
For the US market, the Armada is equipped with three drive modes: Normal, Snow, and Tow/Haul. The Patrol adds Sand mode and Rock mode to what the Armada offers. These additional drive modes can make a big difference in capability, if tuned correctly.
2022 Armada Off-Road Performance
In our testing, the Armada is a capable off-road rig. The large 33-inch tires and low range transfer case help this massive SUV get where it needs to go. Nissan’s standard ABLS (Active Brake Limited Slip) system works well, but isn’t as aggressive as it could be. There is a chance that the vehicle would roll downhill before ABLS applies the brakes to the spinning wheels and transfers power to the wheels with traction.
We can’t help but wonder how much the 9-speed auto from the Titan and differentials from the Patrol would increase the Armada’s offroad performance. Lower gearing would help maintain control both ascending and descending steep grades. The locking rear differential would provide significantly more traction without having to wait for ABLS to kick in. Rock and Sand modes would likely provide better tuning of the ABLS system to have better performance in a larger variety of terrains.
Americans are getting outdoors more than ever, RV sales have skyrocketed, and factory off-road vehicles are selling faster than they can be made. With the Land Cruiser leaving the US market, there is an opportunity for Nissan to position the Armada to fill that void. With all the latest trends, it makes sense that Nissan would offer a more off-road capable Armada with the features they already use in the Patrol. Just take a look at the new 2023 Sequoia TRD Pro for an example of an off-pavement capable full size SUV.
Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.
Matt lives in the Utah mountains and often posts cool off-roading videos to his Instagram and YouTube channel.