2018 Volvo XC90 vs. 2018 Nissan Armada

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Nissan Armada doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

The XC90’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Armada doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the XC90 and Armada have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Armada’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Nissan doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Armada. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the XC90 deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The XC90’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Armada’s side airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Armada doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The XC90’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Armada doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

For better protection of the passenger compartment, the XC90 uses safety cell construction with a three-dimensional high-strength frame that surrounds the passenger compartment. It provides extra impact protection and a sturdy mounting location for door hardware and side impact beams. The Armada uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

Both the XC90 and the Armada have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available around view monitors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the XC90 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 144 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Armada has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The XC90 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Armada’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Armada’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Armada.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the XC90 has a standard 210-amp alternator. The Armada’s 150-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the XC90 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the XC90’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Armada’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine

The XC90 T8’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 10 more horsepower (400 vs. 390) and 78 lbs.-ft. more torque (472 vs. 394) than the Armada’s 5.6 DOHC V8. The XC90 T8 Polestar’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 31 more horsepower (421 vs. 390) and 108 lbs.-ft. more torque (502 vs. 394) than the Armada’s 5.6 DOHC V8.

As tested in Car and Driver the XC90 T8 is faster than the Nissan Armada:

 

XC90

Armada

Zero to 60 MPH

5.3 sec

5.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.6 sec

16 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

5.8 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

14.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98 MPH

96 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running on a full charge gets better fuel mileage than the Armada 4WD (63 city/61 hwy MPGe vs. 13 city/18 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Armada 4WD (26 city/30 hwy vs. 13 city/18 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 gets better fuel mileage than the Armada:

 

 

XC90

Armada

 

2WD

T5/Auto

22 city/29 hwy

14 city/19 hwy

V8/Auto

4WD

T5/Auto

22 city/28 hwy

13 city/18 hwy

V8/Auto

 

T6/Auto

20 city/27 hwy

n/a

 

The XC90 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 14 miles. The Armada must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the XC90 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Armada doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the XC90’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Armada doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The XC90 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Armada doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volvo XC90 higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Nissan Armada (3). This means the XC90 produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Armada every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Volvo XC90, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the Armada.

Brakes and Stopping

The XC90 stops much shorter than the Armada:

 

XC90

Armada

 

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

182 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

128 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The XC90 T5’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Armada SV’s standard 70 series tires. The XC90’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Armada SL/Platinum’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC90 offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Armada’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The XC90 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Armada’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .84 G’s, while the Armada Platinum 4x4 pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.6 seconds quicker than the Armada Platinum 4x4 (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the XC90’s turning circle is 2.3 feet tighter than the Armada’s (39 feet vs. 41.3 feet). The XC90’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Armada’s (39.7 feet vs. 41.3 feet).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Armada SV (9.4 vs. 9.1 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The XC90 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is 1.3 inches higher than on the Armada SL/Platinum (10.5 vs. 9.2 inches).

Chassis

The Volvo XC90 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 700 to 1200 pounds less than the Nissan Armada.

The XC90 is 1 foot, 2 inches shorter than the Armada, making the XC90 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Unibody construction makes the XC90’s chassis much stiffer, which contributes to better handling, and enables softer springs to be used for a better ride. Unibody construction’s stiffness also contributes to better durability and less body squeaks and rattles. The Armada doesn’t use unibody construction, but a body-on-frame design.

The design of the Volvo XC90 amounts to more than styling. The XC90 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .33 Cd. That is significantly lower than the Armada (.37) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the XC90 get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The front step up height for the XC90 is 6.5 inches lower than the Armada (15.8” vs. 22.3”). The XC90’s rear step up height is 6.7 inches lower than the Armada’s (16” vs. 22.7”).

Cargo Capacity

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the XC90’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by waving your foot, leaving your hands completely free. The Armada doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The XC90 has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Armada doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Armada SL/Platinum, the XC90 has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The XC90 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Armada doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the XC90 and the Armada have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the XC90 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Armada prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The XC90’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Armada SV’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the XC90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Armada doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC90 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Armada doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the XC90 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Armada doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the XC90 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Armada doesn’t offer cornering lights. The XC90 also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The XC90’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan only offers heated mirrors on the Armada SL/Platinum.

The XC90’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Armada’s power mirror controls are on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

Optional air-conditioned front and second row seats keep the XC90’s passengers comfortable and take the sting out of hot leather in summer. The Armada doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats for the second row.

The XC90’s optional Park Assist Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Armada doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the XC90 owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the XC90 with a number “8” insurance rate while the Armada is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC90 is less expensive to operate than the Armada because it costs $36 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the XC90 than the Armada, including $15 less for an alternator, $46 less for a starter, $31 less for front struts, $1046 less for a timing belt/chain and $327 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The Armada has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The Armada has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The Armada has never been chosen.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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