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BRAWN AND BLING: Nissan’s jumbo 2019 Armada Platinum Reserve AWD steams ahead with classic SUV underpinnings, V-8 power, ladled-on luxury

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Room aplenty, deep V-8 power and top-drawer luxury appointments: That’s the 2019 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve’s claim to fame.

Its old-school body-on-frame construction and burly V-8 power may harken back to the king-size sport-utility vehicles of yore, but it drives smack up to date.

It’s a big boy, for sure, but the Armada doesn’t feel particularly ponderous despite its nearly 6,000-pound heft. It accelerates vigorously, brakes with confidence, and tackles twisty roads with only moderate body lean as long as sensible speeds are observed.

The Armada excels at highway trips, gliding smoothly down interstates and secondary roads. The steering does seem to lack a well-defined on-center spot, requiring frequent minor adjustments to maintain a straight-ahead track.

The Platinum Reserve package ponies up the amenity ante with dark chrome exterior trim and exclusive dark chrome 20-inch alloy wheels, but it’s inside the posh cabin where the optional opulence pays off.

Seating and interior trim are clad with premium two-tone leather featuring unique stitching. The front buckets are nicely shaped and provide excellent support with full adjustability for driver and copilot.

Second-row passengers won’t feel like second-class travelers with the optional ($450) captain’s chairs and console. They also ease the access to the rather cramped third-row bench seat.

The dash holds large, clear gauges and, despite quite a few buttons and switches to master, major and minor controls are clearly marked and ergonomically grouped by function.

Yes, the Armada’s direct-injection V-8, paired with a smooth-shifting and responsive seven-speed automatic transmission, does slurp up gasoline at a rather prodigious rate: 13 mpg in town and 18 on the open road. But that’s the price you pay for strong acceleration and 8,500-pound towing capacity.

The Armada 4×4 is well equipped for off-road duty thanks to a generous 9.1 inches of ground clearance and a low-range setting.

Newly standard for 2019 are forward collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control. The suite of other safety systems is up to date.
Only the infotainment package, in particular the somewhat balky touchscreen, seem a bit behind the times.

With its elegant accommodations, ample power, tranquil highway ride and superb build quality, the big Armada is primed for family missions.