Nissan's Armada gets a full off-road makeover in the form of the Mountain Patrol overlanding build. The eight-seater SUV now looks rough-and-ready for the trail, and with plenty of gear storage and sleeping arrangements for all passengers, the Armada Mountain Patrol project is about as good as a factory overlander can get, even if it may not ever see an actual production run.
The Armada Mountain Patrol's exterior clearly points to the modified SUV's form-follows-function mentality. This isn't a sleek city-dweller or a luxury family hauler; without a doubt, the Mountain Patrol is at home on rough trails and parked in remote campsites. Other than the self-aggrandizing advertisements that adorn just about every surface, major modifications to the exterior include a lifted body and of course, that extensive tenting system mounted up top.
Pure off-road mods include Calmini bumpers and rock sliders, an extensive setup of Baja Designs lighting, a Warn Zeon Platinum 12S winch, and 17-inch Icon Rebound wheels shod in Nitto Ridge Grapplers tires. That tent system comes by way of Cascadia Vehicle Tents, and their Mt. Shasta unit sleeps four safely above the SUV's cabin, while Rhino Racks provided the rollout awning and Alps Mountaineering threw in the additional tent, sleeping bags, and chairs.
Drivetrain & Mechanicals
The Armada Mountain Patrol's off-road focused exterior is matched by significant mechanical modifications to help with navigating narrow, steep, and unpredictable terrain. At the heart, though, still lies Nissan's best-in-class 5.6-liter V8 producing 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque. With a towing rating of 8,500 pounds and plenty of interior storage, the base Armada is a perfect starting platform, but the entire build ratchets overall utility up to an entirely different level.
Helping the V8 breathe is a Magnaflow cat-back exhaust system, which becomes especially important at higher elevations. A seven-speed automatic transmission routes power to all four wheels and received a workover to help cope with the 35-inch tires. The lift job, courtesy of Calmini, measures in at six inches and utilizes Icon coilovers. An ARB twin screw air compressor has been fitted to help maintain optimal tire pressure for varying surfaces and is complemented by a refrigerator and set of storage drawers.
A high-lift jack and rear-mounted spare tire are just about overlanding necessities, so Nissan couldn't help but include them in the build. A Rhino Rack-branded shovel even fits into the mix, should a regular shovel not seem apropos. Of course, these kinds of mechanical tools usually don't fit under the category of a car's features, but in this case, the whole point of the Armada Mountain Patrol is to test just how far four-wheel drive can go before it gets stuck. In that case, a rack-mounted MaxTrack vehicle recovery system and auxiliary fuel storage by RotoPax become all the more attractive.
Interior & Tech
The underlying Armada that Nissan used to begin the Mountain Patrol project was a fairly well-trimmed SUV, complete with all the amenities of a borderline-luxury vehicle. Katzkin seat covers and an off-road specific Lowrance navigation system have been added—the former to reinforce any rugged feelings that might be missing inside such a comfy cabin, the latter to help keep drivers focused on the rock features coming up rather than orienteering a route.
A Rugged Radios off-road radio system helps keep the whole crew in touch, whether they're all in separate vehicles or splitting off in the early evening to scavenge for firewood. In addition to the fridge and freezer combo, Otterbox has contributed a set of coolers, presumably for the cold beverages that come only after a long day on the trail. Gear cases via Pelican help keep all the necessary outdoor accouterments organized.
Pricing & Buying
The range-topping Nissan Armada SUV on which the Mountain Patrol is based started at $65,000, and all the additional gear and modifications apparently cost something to the tune of $14,000. A more modestly trimmed Armada starts at the more reasonable price of around $46,000.
Of course, for a truly home-built overlander, prices in that range are just about standard (even when starting with a beat-up old Jeep or Toyota Land Cruiser). No explicit plans for Nissan to actually mass-produce the Mountain Patrol for public consumption have been revealed, but the extensive press coverage and build sheets allow for just about anyone to invest in their own Armada and undertake the overlander project themselves.
Any time a company releases an SUV with explicit off-road focus, their sights have to be set to some degree on the Jeep Wrangler. Jeep fans will no doubt argue that the Wrangler, Wrangler Rubicon, and the forthcoming Gladiator are better off-roaders from the factory and that Nissan has essentially just thrown a bunch of gear at the Armada to see what sticks. Regardless, the market for overlanding SUVs is one that requires such a degree of finetuning and personalization that creating the perfect vehicle from the factory is nigh impossible.