I really didn’t want to see Trolls World Tour, the recent DreamWorks Animation release skewed more to my young cousins than this ornery auto journalist in his 50’s. But I wanted to do something a bit different for my review of the 2020 Nissan Armada. Since we can’t do a lot of road trips due to the COVID-19 quarantine, I decided to take the large SUV to a place I haven’t visited in probably four decades – a drive-in movie theater.
These outdoor screens are making a comeback of sorts due to the coronavirus as it is easy to social distance by sitting in your vehicle to enjoy a movie. Sadly, the Top Gun sequel was pushed back to a December 2020 opening and the only thing playing at the Showboat Drive-in in nearby Hockey, Texas, was this animated gem of a flick featuring a tribe of techno trolls.
I’ll skip the plot so I don’t spoil it for those who have yet to see it, but we did have a pleasant and comfy experience in the Armada.
I have spent time in Nissan’s largest SUV and have rated it near the top of my category list for large passenger vehicles. The starting price of $47,100 is a good deal for an 8-passenger truck, especially if you tow or occasionally go off-road.
This model was the Platinum 4WD version which topped out just over $71,000. Sure it is tough to find flaws in a vehicle with so many upgrades – though I found a few – but the Zero Gravity seats made watching Barb, King Peppy, and Poppy trolls a lot more bearable.
Nissan puts these seats in most all their products which can reduce muscle fatigue. Inspired by the weightlessness of space, they are built with 14 difference pressure points to put you in a neutral position. By the start of Act 3 I almost found myself falling asleep. Not sure if it was the comfy seats or the movie.
The last time I remember bring at a drive-in theater I swear my parents made me hide in the back seat so they wouldn’t have to pay for me and my sister to see Jaws. You also had to place a small, tin speaker on the driver’s window to hear the movie’s sound. Technology caught up with the industry and now you simply tune your vehicle’s radio to an FM station for a low-powered signal to blare through the speakers.
13 Bose Premium speakers in this case. The squeaky voices of the candy-colored characters on screen did not do the Armada’s sound system justice, but the Sirius XM tunes on the drive up there sounded great.
The infotainment system could be larger for such a big SUV but the NissanConnect services and nav system were simple to control via buttons and touchscreen. At some point Nissan needs to add Android and Apple compatibility to fully bring the Armada into the 21st century.
At one point during the movie I wanted to sit in the second row and just pop a DVD into the Family Entertainment System complete with two 8” color displays and wireless headsets.
Passenger space is ample in the first two rows yet a little tight in row three. Cargo room is enormous especially when the third row is lowered. Should you need to haul more gear it can tow up to 8,500 pounds (imagine how many kids I could have snuck into the drive-in).
The strong 5.6-liter, V8 engine felt like a good amount of power transferred to the four wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission. My ride had optional 22” wheels (a $2,250 upgrade) which made the SUV stand out even more, though I’m not sure they were necessary for a cost-vs-comfort situation.
Safety is not an issue with me when it comes to driving and riding in Nissan vehicles. The Armada comes standard with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and a rear-seat reminder system. I usually suggest features like blind-spot monitors and parking sensors which can be added options here.
Nissan says the 2020 Armada can use regular unleaded fuel which is nice to know. The 4WD version gets a moderate 13/15/15 mpg so try to stick with the least-expensive gas.
Four versions are available starting with the SV then escalating up to the SL, Platinum and Platinum Reserve. They all share the same capable engine so if you are looking for value stay towards the lower end.
As the credits began to roll on the movie, I couldn’t tell you much about what happened on the screen other than Trolls World Tour seemed to hit its target audience due the loud laughs of sugared-up kids nearby. But the 2020 Armada made a lasting impression on me and still sits near the top of my favorites in the large SUV category.
Though I won’t be first in line at the next version of Trolls (trust me, there will be many), I do anticipate a longer trip and review opportunity in the comfort of the Armada. Hopefully to an air-conditioned movie theater that is showing the new Top Gun.
LISTEN to my thoughts on the 2020 Nissan Armada from my radio show heard on iHeartRadio: