Nissan’s Flagship Off-Roader: Why the Armada SUV is the Land Cruiser Alternative You Should be Checking Out
When it comes to Japanese-built full-size 4x4 SUVs that mix both comfort and capability the Toyota Land Cruiser and its Lexus counterpart the LX have long been at the top of the heap.
And this perception and popularity is evident in both new pricing and ever-high demand for older examples of the Land Cruiser and LX that pop up for sale.
But there’s also a more affordable SUV alternative that is actually quite similar on paper even if it doesn’t enjoy the same passionate fanbase: the Nissan Armada and its luxury-badged sibling the Infiniti QX.
While those of us in North America might recognize these SUVs as the 2017+ Nissan Armada or the 2011+ Infiniti QX56 and QX80, in other markets it’s the Nissan Patrol, which is essentially Nissan’s version of the Land Cruiser.
At launch, both the Armada and the QX56 were built in the US and based on the Titan pickup platform, but for the second generations (the 2011+ QX56 and 2017+ Armada) the SUVs moved to made-in-Japan Y62 Patrol platform.
The platform uses body-on-frame construction, is known for its ruggedness and like the Land Cruiser/LX, it’s an especially popular model in the Middle East.
Performance & Capability
While the Patrol is available with other engines overseas, in America all QX56s, QX80s and Armadas are powered by Nissan’s naturally aspirated 5.6L V8 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
In the current models, the “Endurance” V8 puts out 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque—that makes them rather quick for full-size luxury SUVs.
Both versions can be had in RWD or 4WD configurations, with the 4WD models getting a true two-speed transfer case that makes it a "real 4x4" when compared to many luxury SUVs.
Value is where these Nissans shine. And the key is that the current 2022 versions of the Armada are still using the same Nissan Patrol platform that’s been around since 2011.
Yes, there have been updates over the 11 years this platform has been around, but they mainly concern interior tech. Mechanically, they are basically identical.
Looking at used examples, an early 2010s QX56 can be had in the high teens to low $20,000s. If you are looking for a newer vehicle, the 2017+ Nissan Armada can be found priced in the low to mid $30,000s.
The Working Man’s Land Cruiser?
While it might be hard to call the QX and Armada “cheap,” they certainly are when compared to the Land Cruiser and Lexus LX. But how much cheaper are they?
At the moment just about any Land Cruiser that’s less than 10 years old is going to be around $50,000 minimum, and a comparable three-year-old version should be at least double what a Nissan Armada is.
If you are looking for aftermarket upgrades, the Nissan won’t have quite as many options as the Land Cruiser, but for a daily driver or weekend warrior there should be no shortage of upgrades available.
The Land Cruiser’s off-road capability and reliability are world famous, and its stunningly high resale value speaks to that, but if you are looking for alternatives that basically do the same job without the high cost, an Armada or QX offers a lot of value.
More From Driving Line
Want to know more about Nissan's impressive 5.6 liter V8 that powers these SUVs? We've got all the details here.