Thoughts on the current generation Armada / Infiniti QX80

greynolds

Observer
I currently own a 2017 Mercedes G63 and have been seriously thinking about replacing it in the near future for a few reasons, mostly related to $$$, but also related to some Mercedes issues. Both of my rear tail light assemblies developed cracks and replacements were ordered mid-September 2019. One arrived in December and the other one remains on back-order with no ETA. Fortunately, these are covered by the warranty presumably because the dealer determined they were over tightened when installed at the factory. I also have a control module on back order since December for the rear seat dome light, also with no ETA and also covered by the warranty. I contacted the service manager at the dealer the other day hoping there might be something they could do to contact the folks in Germany to see if these parts are ever going to arrive, but just got a generic "the parts are on back order with no ETA and keep in mind that we're under staffed due to Covid-19" response back. The other thing that's really starting to sink in is that these parts are EXPENSIVE - each tail light assembly has an MSRP of around $750, so if these cracked outside of the warranty, even something simple like this is expensive. The dealership changed owners about a year ago and I've been sad seeing how the level of service they provide has gotten progressively worse. It stinks because they had been absolutely fantastic previously and the dealership is about 10 minutes from my house. Additionally, just basic annual service, state excise tax, and insurance are all expensive on this vehicle and I'm looking to increase how much I put away toward retirement, which isn't too many years away at this point.

So the above has me thinking about alternatives...

My dad and I had a 2019 Armada as a rental car on a trip in Colorado last year. We liked it a LOT, but it didn't have Apple CarPlay and the overall navigation and entertainment unit seemed pretty clunky and dated compared to what I'm used to at this point with the Mercedes. I see that the 2020 Armada and QX80 have added CarPlay, which would make most other issues with a clunky entertainment unit largely moot and take care of my biggest criticism of the vehicle. But otherwise, the Armada was extremely comfortable on long drives, had ample power in the mountains, had plenty of space for cargo, and I like the overall body style. So this seems like a great option to consider as a replacement for my G63, should I decide to do so.

For those of you more familiar with Nissan and Infiniti, what differences should I be aware of between the 2 if comparing comparably optioned models? It looks like the Infiniti comes with a better (Bose) audio system and may have a nicer all around interior than the Nissan. Are there major differences in how aftermarket parts, such as bumpers would fit on the 2 versions or other key differences I should be aware of?

Is the Nissan Patrol association for real in that these are truly rugged and reliable vehicles? Are there any major known issues with the current generation models? How does Nissan and Infiniti's reliability compare to Toyota these days?

Are maintenance costs reasonable on these?

Is there a good way to ditch the 3rd row seats and cover the floor they recess into nicely to add some extra under floor storage?

It look like Infiniti currently has 0% financing available, which would be a plus. I don't completely own the G63 yet, so I would end up financing at least some amount of the purchase.

What other options other than the obvious option of a Toyota Land Cruiser / Lexus LX-570 should I be giving serious consideration to?

Note that I'm not planning on going on any serious off road expeditions, so things like relatively poor approach and departure angles aren't a huge concern.

Sorry for all the questions, but I would truly appreciate some honest feedback as I put some more thought into this. It's a tough decision because I really enjoy driving the G63 - I just think I need to be more realistic about the money aspect :).
 

Ocdfisher

Member
I am about a month into owning an '18 armada. Just did a few days around Linville Gorge traveling some decent dirt/gravel/rock up-down roads. It rides really nice. My other vehicles, a silverado and a 2001 montero ride so much harsher. The nav unit works but it a little bit of a pita. If there is an updated system, that would be great. I got over 21 mpg driving up from Florida to North Carolina. I did some pretty extensive research on the Armada and besides some airbag and paint flaws, it appears to be super reliable. It does have a lot of body roll in high speed turns and rides soft.
I really like it though. There is nothing else I would have bought that I think I would have been happier.
 

greynolds

Observer
I am about a month into owning an '18 armada. Just did a few days around Linville Gorge traveling some decent dirt/gravel/rock up-down roads. It rides really nice. My other vehicles, a silverado and a 2001 montero ride so much harsher. The nav unit works but it a little bit of a pita. If there is an updated system, that would be great. I got over 21 mpg driving up from Florida to North Carolina. I did some pretty extensive research on the Armada and besides some airbag and paint flaws, it appears to be super reliable. It does have a lot of body roll in high speed turns and rides soft.
I really like it though. There is nothing else I would have bought that I think I would have been happier.
Thanks for the feedback. Since I'd be going from a G63 to an Armada or QX80, I'm not too worried about body roll :). The gas mileage would be a nice improvement too as I typically get less than 15mpg, even on a really good day and the G63 requires premium - IIRC from the rental, the Armada doesn't require premium.
 

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Quick Answer;
Both vehicles are very good and reliable, especially if you are buying brand new. You take care of them and they will last you a long time. Many people on the Armada forum show their odometers with well over 300,000 miles and some with over 400,000 miles. The Armada is a great bargain and the best buy. The QX is luxury but not that much different from the Armada. Buy the Armada for an overall great buy!

Long answer;
If I am not mistaken that G63 of yours cost you way over $100,000 when you bought it. It is only 3 years old now so if you did not put down over $30,000 as a down payment, then you may probably be upside down on your loan. If you are not upside down, then great! You have are ahead then and can easily get out of that car for a Nissan Armada.

Usually, people who drive cars like the G63 which they bought well over $100,000 do not worry about gas or money. So, it is a great thing that you are thinking positive and being realistic about money now.

I have owned and driven the Armada and the QX. I currently own a QX. This is my take on your questions. Please, know that the Armada and QX would not be of the same standard as your luxurious G63. So, do not have your expectations very high.

If you are thinking of saving, I strongly advice you go for a Nissan Armada. It does not require premium. The QX recommends premium for maximum performance but you can use regular, but you will feel the slight sluggishness, if you are someone that used to use all those 563 horses on your G63. But coming to the Armada or QX, gas mileage is not that great either, so do not be surprised.

Since you mentioned about current )% interest at Infiniti, it means you are looking at new and you have very good credit. I strongly recommend you buy the top of the line Armada. They offer some great bargains.

Yes, this is the same platform as the Nissan Patrol. They share pretty much a lot of things with each other, so know that this car will be very reliable. But like with all manufacturers, pray you do not buy the 1 bad one from the factory. Every single brand new car sold at all different dealerships have atleast more than 1 that may end up being a lemon. So, I hope you do not buy a bad apple and it ruins your Nissan experience.

The Nissan entertainment system is very outdated, but they are improving though it is truly very disappointing to most owners. So, you may be very disappointed with it. Let us hope it does not disappoint you much.

You can ditch the 3rd seat and install the storage you are talking about. But that would be custom work from your end. Many people who offroad and own different types of suv type vehicles come up with some ingenious ideas. Be creative and make something new and share pictures and videos.

Do not consider the Lexus or Land Cruiser if you are trying to save money, except you are so rich that you truly do not even need to trade in your G63. If you want to save money, then among all the different vehicles you have mentioned, your best bang for your buck is a brand new Nissan Armada. A brand new fully loaded Armada is over $30,000 cheaper than buying a brand new fully loaded Land Cruiser or Lexus. So, do you want to just spend an extra $30,000 just because you want a Land Cruiser or a Lexus? Or are you truly serious about trying to save money?

Maintenance cost on these cars is not bad at all. Keep up with regular maintenance and the car should last you a long time. Plus, you are not planning on going on any serious offroad expeditions, so you really do not have much to worry about.

I take my QX on some serious offroad and beat the thing hard. People who meet me out there usually are surprised by its performance and I have taken it up some very bad offroad trails and passes in Colorado that a few guys came up to me and genuinely said they are impressed. Take a look at one of my road trip blogs and look at some of my pictures or read the blog and look up those destinations that I went to.

And I just got approved for my vacation that they denied me 3 weeks ago and I am going back to Colorado next month to beat this QX again HARD! I am not even joking and this same car will get back on the freeway to drive 80mph on my 18 hours drive back to Houston, TX. I trust the car and that is why I take it offroad when I can and I never baby it at all. Trust me. I will make another road trip blog about my trip and share many pictures as I often do if I take a trip that is longer than 7 days.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
The Nissan is OK. They are thirsty and old tech even compared to domestic stuff but can be had for super cheap now. Far more reliable than the merc.
 

greynolds

Observer
Thanks for the responses, everyone.

Quick Answer;
Both vehicles are very good and reliable, especially if you are buying brand new. You take care of them and they will last you a long time. Many people on the Armada forum show their odometers with well over 300,000 miles and some with over 400,000 miles. The Armada is a great bargain and the best buy. The QX is luxury but not that much different from the Armada. Buy the Armada for an overall great buy!
The Mercedes was a dream purchase for me and since I'm single, don't have kids, have a good job, and don't have a mortgage to worry about (just SUPER cheap rent living with my brother), I can swing it even though it's a bit of a stretch - I'm definitely not the "typical" G63 customer with a 7-figure income and so on. I'm far enough along on the loan on the G63 and they hold their value well enough that I would have a pretty good amount of equity to apply to the next vehicle. I can definitely afford to keep the G63, but it would definitely be a smarter move long term to get something that's less expensive to run longer term.

A Land Cruiser / Lexus would be a fair amount less expensive long term than my G63. State annual excise tax (which progresses from 90% down to 10% of the original base MSRP, not factoring in add-ons, of the vehicle), insurance, routine maintenance, and parts would all be less expensive than the G63. A fully loaded Armada or QX80 would be less expensive, but not dramatically so. A 2020 Land Cruiser is about $85K with very few options available to jack the price up (the Heritage Edition version is about $87K or rear seat entertainment adds about $2K - that's about it). Having owned a Lexus LX-470 in the past (essentially a 100 Series Land Cruiser), I have a very good idea of what I'd be getting with the current 200 Series. The one big negative is that the infotainment system is pretty old and doesn't have Apple CarPlay / Android Auto to compensate for it.

An Armada configured comparable to a QX80 wouldn't be radically different on price, but it looks like the 2020 QX80 has a nicer infotainment system and a nicer interior than the top-line Armada. Based on your photos (nice photography, by the way) It looks like you have 22" rims - you haven't found those to be a problem for finding tires that are decent off road and/or in the snow? It really irks me that most of these companies sell these capable SUV's and then force you to take 22" rims if you want certain options.

I posted a similar question on a Toyota board looking for some feedback primarily on the Land Cruiser and someone mentioned that the Armada uses the same rear running gear as the Pathfinder and that it was a major weak point. I haven't been able to find anything online that backs up that claim though.

My biggest concern with buying a Nissan product right now is their financial situation, but that could also translate into them being hungrier to make a deal than a Toyota dealer.

This is a link to one of my blogs...

My 2018 Road Trip...
That's my favorite part of the country to visit. The delicate arch hike is well worth it with an amazing payoff. It's pretty easy as long as the heat isn't too bad and you bring plenty of water along. I've been to most of the places you showed, but Arches is one of the best all around IMO, even for people who can't do extended hikes. Some of the parks, like Canyonlands aren't all that great if you can't either drive off road or go on at least a mild hike to enjoy the view.

The Nissan is OK. They are thirsty and old tech even compared to domestic stuff but can be had for super cheap now. Far more reliable than the merc.
Old tech isn't always a bad thing. I'm pretty much soured for life on anything from GM as my family had a whole series of issues with GM products in the 80's and early 90's before we smartened up and switched brands. I would potentially consider Ford, but the only thing I might be interested in is the new Bronco and I wouldn't want the first model year. I've heard far too many bad things about Chrysler / Jeep products to consider them a viable option.

Thirsty is relative - none of the options I'm considering are going to be quite as thirsty as my G63.
 
Well, you have it going well for you then. I am glad this was a dream purchase for you and have it really good driving that car worth over $100,000 with little to no rents to pay. I will not lie, if I was also in your shoes, I would probably be driving the same too for a short while. We have one life to live. Enjoy some things but be smart too, like you are wanting to do. The good thing is you have equity on the car that you can use towards other things.

To quote you from above; "... it would definitely be a smarter move long term to get something that's less expensive to run longer term."

You say a Armada or QX would not be dramatically cheaper than a Land Cruiser or Lexus. If you shop around, you will see that the most fully loaded Armada will always be over $20,000 cheaper than a most fully loaded Land Cruiser. Try it and see. I am sure since you are genuinely looking to save money, $20,000 in savings or adding it to your savings means a lot. So, your car payments plus maintenance will be cheaper than the Land Cruiser. Maybe in 5 years of keeping the car, you could have enough savings to buy your own house outright or put a hefty down payment on a house.

I am not an investment guru, but there are some investments out there that investing $20,000 or more today and adding to that as you can, in 10 to 15 year, that money would be atleast doubled or tripled.

About my tires, yes I do have 22 inch rims. Sadly, it is hard to find tires for them around. Let me tell you a story with my tires.

The first year I took my QX on a road trip, I took it offroad and poof, I had a flat. I have a full spare. I went to change it and guess what? Nissan sells the car with only 20 inch rim. So, I changed the tire all alone on a deserted offroad trail in Arizona. I was sweating because it was crazy hot. It took me over 30 minutes. When it was done, I was exhausted and still had an hour 30 minutes to my hotel. I drove on the freeway with 3 22 inch rims and 1 20 inch rim. Well, the overall diameters were the same since I was doing 70mph and car could stay straight. I got to that town and no tire shop had my size. There was no 22 inch tire in that little town. I called Vegas which about an hour 30 minutes away and they did not have it either. They had to overnight one from Phoenix, AZ for me to get it the next day when I got to Vegas. I got to Vegas and got the new tire. The bad thing is I wanted the same brand I had on my car. Well, it was not possible. So, I did get a new 22 inch tire delivered to a Discount Tire in Vegas. But they did not have the same brand I had on my car. If you are like me, that bothered me so much. In less than a month, I replaced all 4 new tires with offroad tires and sold all those 4 tires and I got a fair amount of money back. You best believe if I own or drive a car and all 4 tires are not the same brand, I will make the change necessary to make sure all 4 match, as soon as I can afford it.

Among your choices of Armada, QX, Land Cruiser or Lexus, I say Armada would be the best buy. It would last you. Plus, I don't know if you plan to keep it for long. But the Armada would truly be a great buy, if you really want to save a lot of money for other things. With the extra money you see on your paycheck, you could have your job take out a lot more percentage from say 8% to 15% or 20% to put towards your retirement. You will see a lot going to 401k and you learn to live off a slightly lesser income while your 401K is growing and your employer matching too grows. Then you can change it back to 10% or 8% when you need your full paycheck back.

Nissan Armada is my vote.
 
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calicamper

Expedition Leader
Buy a condo sell the Merc get a cheap Nissan max out your free matching money and tax sheltered Funds. When I was single no responsibilities and making my first good.real adult income I bought a $18,000 new Subaru beat the living hell out of it for 10yrs saved a pile of money, raced sailboats all over the place for fun and bought a condo with my now wife. Condo is rented now pays my income while I do fun stuff and chase two kids around. Semi stay at home dad due to my rentals / income.
My first Merc was a true barn find for grandpa actually but he passed away suddenly two yrs after getting him his SLK350 barn find. I still have it and drive it for fun occasionally. Tempted to sell it and maybe get a Opus 15 hard side popup trailer or a used dirt cheap 2020 Taxa Mantis given I think our tent setup is going to severely limit our camping and domestic travel with the Covid 19 issues. We’ll see..
The QX is a unique beast and hard to not consider given the prices.
 

docwatson

Adventurer
I posted a similar question on a Toyota board looking for some feedback primarily on the Land Cruiser and someone mentioned that the Armada uses the same rear running gear as the Pathfinder and that it was a major weak point. I haven't been able to find anything online that backs up that claim though.
The Armada runs the same front diff, R180, as the V6 R51 (2005-2012) Pathfinder. The rear diff is the R230 which was in the old Armada and V8 Pathys. The R180 have some known weaknesses/limitations but I haven't heard of any issues with the R230.

@leeleatherwood 's build thread (Page 1, Post #9)has so more info on the diffs. Maybe he can chime in with a bit of experience.

Also, @calicamper , I've read you went through the fullsize SUV buying process not that long ago. Did you consider the QX/Armada? What made you decide to not purchase?
 

greynolds

Observer
As far as the 401K and stuff goes, I've been maxing out my 401K contributions for many years now, am maxing out my IRA contributions, and putting additional money away each month in other investments. All the retirement calculators tell me I'm more than on target to retire in ~10 years at 60. My housing situation is pretty sweet, so I don't have any plans to change that. So it's not like I need to downsize to a far less expensive vehicle, I just think it makes sense to be a ~little~ smarter and set aside a bit more money each month. The other thing is once the warranty expires on the G63, any out of warranty repairs will be expensive (that will partly be offset once the loan is paid off, but still more expensive than parts for an Infiniti/Nissan/Toyota). So any of these options are on the table; I just need to go take a closer look at the current Armada, QX80, and Land Cruiser to decide what the best fit is for me.

And yeah, @PetiteFrereArmada, 22 inch rims and offroad don't tend to play nicely together, unfortunately. It could make sense to swap to 20's next time you need new tires.

A QX80 configured more or less with the options I would want would be around $75K, while an Armada would be around $65K. I was avoiding options in both cases that force the 22" wheels to be selected, so if I added a few more items I would like and either live with the 22" wheels or swap them for 20" wheels, it would probably be more like $80K and $70K. What I don't know is how flexible the Nissan and Infiniti dealers are on price these days. If what I've been reading about sales being down something like 50% is true, they may be rather motivated to make a sale.

One of the local Toyota dealers has a couple of new 2019 Land Cruisers on their lot - it's possible they'll be a bit more motivated to move those.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
The Armada runs the same front diff, R180, as the V6 R51 (2005-2012) Pathfinder. The rear diff is the R230 which was in the old Armada and V8 Pathys. The R180 have some known weaknesses/limitations but I haven't heard of any issues with the R230.

@leeleatherwood 's build thread has so more info on the diffs. Maybe he can chime in with a bit of experience.

Also, @calicamper , I've read you went through the fullsize SUV buying process not that long ago. Did you consider the QX/Armada? What made you decide to not purchase?
No because I had a cherry 07 Sequoia it was pretty good but I was getting rid of two vehicles for 1. My daily 2010 Subaru Outback Limited and short road trip rig was fuel efficient and comfortable but lacked much needed load capacity for our now 4 full sized bikes and stuff. The Sequoia was great but zero tech I added a new Head unit with Apple Play which in some ways made it as interesting or more so than a new Sequoia lol. Mileage improvement was a priority given I was replacing the Subaru and the Sequoia.
So my top things were ride quality and mileage for daily use, seating given pre c-19 I was shutting kids to various sports in a car pool so 8 real seats ideally. The adventure side of our activities ment real 4x4 and ideally locking rear diff given the big SUVs the big weakness with no locker you get stuck pretty easily. That only left two options the Yukon / Suburban or the Expedition. The 19 Yukon Denali I liked local dealers weren’t dealing at all MSRP or walk. I walked and honestly the more modern Expedition was dramatically better in tech seating configuration anyway plus 12k off MSRP! With heavy tow pack etc.
Will I wheel it like I did the old Sequoia or say a cheap QX? No but it will see lots of dirt roads and occasional rough spots. It will be towing our bikes, boats, camping setup to places where we can then hit more remote areas hiking, riding etc.

None of these big rigs are jeeps.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
I will say the Expedition drives far more like a big powerful sedan on the pavement than a truck. The QX definitely drives more like a truck. I would put the Sequoia and the QX in the same general ride/ driving experience and roughly the same fuel cost. With sequoia being more expensive and probably more durable etc.
 

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calicamper

Expedition Leader
As far as the 401K and stuff goes, I've been maxing out my 401K contributions for many years now, am maxing out my IRA contributions, and putting additional money away each month in other investments. All the retirement calculators tell me I'm more than on target to retire in ~10 years at 60. My housing situation is pretty sweet, so I don't have any plans to change that. So it's not like I need to downsize to a far less expensive vehicle, I just think it makes sense to be a ~little~ smarter and set aside a bit more money each month. The other thing is once the warranty expires on the G63, any out of warranty repairs will be expensive (that will partly be offset once the loan is paid off, but still more expensive than parts for an Infiniti/Nissan/Toyota). So any of these options are on the table; I just need to go take a closer look at the current Armada, QX80, and Land Cruiser to decide what the best fit is for me.

And yeah, @PetiteFrereArmada, 22 inch rims and offroad don't tend to play nicely together, unfortunately. It could make sense to swap to 20's next time you need new tires.

A QX80 configured more or less with the options I would want would be around $75K, while an Armada would be around $65K. I was avoiding options in both cases that force the 22" wheels to be selected, so if I added a few more items I would like and either live with the 22" wheels or swap them for 20" wheels, it would probably be more like $80K and $70K. What I don't know is how flexible the Nissan and Infiniti dealers are on price these days. If what I've been reading about sales being down something like 50% is true, they may be rather motivated to make a sale.

One of the local Toyota dealers has a couple of new 2019 Land Cruisers on their lot - it's possible they'll be a bit more motivated to move those.
My 19 Platinum ExpedItion with heavy tow pack locking rear diff, 2spd transfer case 400hp was $72,400 after negotiations.
A 2020 TRD Sequoia will be around $68 ish

Any Nissan product needs to be at a huge discount and your prices are not even close to discounted. My region one of largest Auto markets in the US the Infinity dealer poof folded up esrly last yr. A 2 yr old QX can be bought for $16,000-$18000.
In all seriousness sell the Merc get a 2 yr old QX for $17,000 go buy a rental property.
 
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Any Nissan product needs to be at a huge discount and your prices are not even close to discounted. My region one of largest Auto markets in the US the Infinity dealer poof folded up esrly last yr. A 2 yr old QX can be bought for $16,000-$18000.
In all seriousness sell the Merc get a 2 yr old QX for $17,000 go buy a rental property.
Lol, don't give him false hopes on those prices. He likes his cars fully loaded. So there is no way on this earth that you will find a fully loaded QX with 4x4 that is 2 years old with say around 30,000 miles or up to even 50,000 miles that cost $18,000.

Please, if you see one let me know. I will ditch my 2012 QX 4x4 which currently has 159,000 miles and buy that QX you show me today. Cash.

Please, help me with that search. I will be grateful. Let me buy it before this OP finds it and buys it.

Help me out by sending me the link to the one you find.
 
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