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SHORT STINT--2009 Nissan Armada LE 4X4

Rafay Ansar

As-tested price: $51,810
Drivetrain: 5.6-liter V8; 4WD, five-speed automatic
Output: 317 hp @ 5,200 rpm, 385 lb-ft @ 3,400 rpm
Curb weight: 5,841 lb
Fuel economy (EPA/AW): 14/13.8 mpg

Options: Technology package including navigation system with 9.3GB hard drive, XM radio with real-time traffic, single CD unit, power third-row seat, heated steering wheel, 20-inch chrome-clad wheels ($2,900); power-sliding moonroof with rear tilt and one-touch open/close with auto-reverse feature ($1,000); floor mats/rear cargo mat ($220); splash guards ($115); microfilter ($50)

This huge ute squares off against the beloved Chevrolet Suburban, not to mention the Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia. And if you need a big hauler--one that will comfortably seat six and readily seat eight and/or haul big loads and/or tow large trailers--this big Nissan is certainly up to the work. The rear cargo space is somewhat limited when the third row is in use, but we heard no complaints from third-row passengers about comfort.

Some of the controls seem too far away from the driver, however. There's a major expanse of center console, and Nissan appears obliged to use it. It's a far reach, for example, to the tuning knob.

The vehicle, large as it is, rides reasonably well, but we'd pass on the extra money for the 20-inch wheels and tires. They look nice, but the big wheels add a lot of unsprung weight to the package, and it can be felt. The powertrain, however, is terrific: The V8 is smooth and powerful and the five-speed auto shifts flawlessly.

Staffers of shorter stature were particularly thankful for the running boards and the power liftgate. And inside, everyone found the seats to be comfortable. You sink into them but still have a high-up, commanding view of the road. The interior also gives off a nice luxury feel, with classy materials used well throughout.
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