Pitting two luxury vehicles with a sizeable price difference against each other would seem an unfair challenge – Nissan’s Armada Platinum starts at $62,690 and tops out at $67,850 with all options, while the Ford Expedition Platinum starts at $76,515 with options inflating the final sticker to $79,380. Yet each vehicle bests the other in different and unexpected ways, not always having to do with price. I tested both for a week, back-to-back; here are my findings, and the winner in each category.
Though the Armada has acres of sweet metal on its hood and on its doors, the Expedition is more muscular and authoritative, looks-wise. Its lack of curves marks it as an all-business machine, albeit one who swaddles its occupants while facing extreme circumstances, such as the vicious rainstorm I drove from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Yonkers, NY in one Monday morning.
The Armada has a certain upscale flair, its controls laid out stylishly, all equipment easy to find without looking via knobs. The Expedition’s cockpit’s (almost) equally stylish, but it’s a bit more utilitarian for what they’re asking customers to pay.
The Expedition has a wheel shifter; the Armada a mighty stalk. For giant SUVs, mighty always wins. Dinky shifter wheels – or shifter wheels of any kind – need to go the way of fins.
INTERIOR ROOM: Expedition
One vehicle is simply bigger than the other and that’s all there is to it, though both have third-row seating. Where the Expedition shines is in the size of the seats both front and back, and their heavenly comfort; it’s a great vehicle for the big and/or tall, and the back seats have far more leg room. The Armada’s ever-so-utilitarian back there – seats are needed, seats exist, but they’re not particularly plush, roomy or especially comfortable.
The Expedition is a tank to the Armada’s ballerina. Time and again, tight turns proved a snap in the Armada whereas the Expedition required the bit of driving to find somewhere to turn the vehicle around – part of which was because to turn the Expedition you have to do both the back-and-forth, back-and-forth tango with your wheel shifter as mentioned above.
The Armada has a whoppin’ 5.6 liter V8 engine making 390 horsepower as compared to the Expedition’s 3.5 liter Ecoboost V6. How, therefore, can the Expedition pull ahead in the “Power” category? Because while the Armada has far more ferocity, the Expedition’s V6 never felt lacking despite the car’s size. I don’t need a V-8 if a V-6 isn’t going to feel inadequate. The Expedition also offers 19 or so miles to the gallon, which, for a vehicle this size, puts it in the “not horrible” category. Some have even reported squeezing out as many as 24 miles to the gallon depending on driving habits. The Armada delivers a feeble 14 miles to the gallon.
THE RIDE: Expedition
It was a pleasure, again and again, to traverse the sometimes-beat up roads near where I tested the Expedition, and feel all bumps, potholes and irregularities smoothed out as if they didn’t exist. Special mention, however, must be delivered for the near-absolute quiet of the Armada’s cockpit at speed.
WINNER: Expedition Platinum
In the end I had to pick the Expedition as my favorite of the two vehicles, though the Armada outdid the Expedition here and there. Each vehicle, of course, comes with extensive extras and options you’ll want to check out, such as the Expedition’s
multi-zone automatic climate control, dual-headrest rear-seat entertainment, heated and ventilated seats, 10-way-power driver’s seat with memory and more available. Limited models deliver Ford’s Sync 3 system which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a crispy-bassy Bang & Olufsen audio system. Platinum trims offer even more goodies like a panoramic sunroof, fun retractable running boards, and active noise cancellation.
The Armada Platinum’s list of extras is nice and long, with one interesting feature called “Rear Door Alert.” If you rear door is opened at the beginning of a trip but not at its conclusion, the software “thinks” something has been left on the back seat whether your suitcase, guitar, dog or kid, and will alert you. My Platinum trim had the kitchen sink of options, including leather upholstery, a $450 “Captains Chairs” package, dark chrome wheels, front grille, door handles and outside mirrors. All Armadas are available in all-wheel drive.