Good morning, Autopians! We’re starting the week off with two SUVs from Nissan, both in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, and both with some battle scars. Before we look at them, we need to take a look at Friday’s results:
And it’s the Beetle by a mile, as I suspected it would be. I don’t know what it is about these slow, primitive, goofy-looking little cars that is so imprinted on the collective unconscious, but it’s undeniable. My biggest problem with this one is that it’s white; it would be hard to resist painting Herbie stripes and roundels on it and calling it “Ocho.”
All right. Today’s choices are from Philly, a city I have visited but don’t know much about, other than there’s a lot of Revolutionary War history there, it’s the Fresh Prince’s hometown, and there’s some sandwich they’re really proud of. Also I think something sportsball-related happened there this weekend? I’m not sure.
But I do know Nissan trucks and SUVs. They’re prone to oil leaks and electrical gremlins, but otherwise tough as old boots. Which is a good thing in this case, because apparently Philadelphians are hard on their cars. Let me show you what I mean.
Engine/drivetrain: 5.6 liter overhead-cam V8, five-speed automatic, part-time 4WD
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Odometer reading: 175,000 miles
Runs/drives? Yep, but check engine light is on
The Nissan Armada is a full-size SUV, Nissan’s answer to the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition. Like those, it’s based on a full-size pickup platform, in this case the Nissan Titan. It uses the Titan’s 5.6 liter V8 and five-speed automatic. It seats eight, can tow a small office building, and takes up two parking spots at Costco if the driver isn’t careful. You get it.
This 2008 Armada has an infotainment screen, but it still has all sorts of buttons and knobs to play with on the dash and steering wheel. This is a fancy model, it looks like, so it is at maximum button saturation. How much of it still works is a mystery; the ad only mentions a non-functional passenger side window and a fuel gauge that fails to do its one job. Not the best gauge to be missing on a gas-guzzler like this.
The seller says this truck runs and drives well, and doesn’t have a rusty frame, but the check engine light is on. Some places don’t care about such things when you go to renew the registration, some do. I suspect Pennslyvania is one of those places that cares very much, and that the seller already knows what the repair bill will be, hence the somewhat low price.
And then there’s the exterior. The more places you look, the more dings and scrapes you see on this thing. I mean, it’s a big vehicle, and the sight lines can’t be great on it, but that’s a lot of altercations with parking lot bollards and garage edges and whatnot.
Engine/drivetrain: 3.5 liter dual overhead cam V6, CVT automatic, AWD
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Odometer reading: 183,000 miles
Runs/drives? “Greatly,” according to the seller
OK, fine. If you want to split hairs and get pedantic, the Murano is a crossover and not an SUV, being based on a car platform. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well, you know. It shares a platform with those two lovable buy-here-pay-here scamps, the Altima and the Maxima, as well as their better-than-the-rest-of-the-car VQ35DE V6 engine. In the Murano, it’s coupled to a continuously variable transmission that the seller says “shifts smoothly” (I bet it does) powering all four wheels.
Inside, this Murano looks a little grubby, but otherwise good. I have a feeling “grubby but intact” is going to be a description that fits a lot of cars from the late-2000s going forward; the materials hold up, but everything gets cheap-looking very quickly. The soft-touch materials get nasty, and the silver paint wears off the corners of things, and it all just starts to look a bit sad.
It sounds like the mechanics of this car are in decent shape. The VQ engine is a known quantity, having seen duty in everything from Altimas to 350Zs to Pathfinders over the years. The life expectancy of CVTs isn’t as well known, and since they all feel like they’re slipping even when they’re new, I’m not sure how you tell when they’re going bad. Do they just suddenly stop working? That wouldn’t be much fun.
But again, outside, this thing is beat all to hell. The seller says this hit in the rear is just the bumper cover, but I have my doubts. I’d want to make sure the hatch closes all right. There is also a good ding in the left front, where it caught some sheetmetal and not just the plastic, and some rust evident behind the front wheels.
I have had good experiences with the Nissan trucks I’ve had over the years, including a 1983 720 pickup and a 1991 Pathfinder with well over 300,000 miles on it. My wife’s current car is an Infiniti QX4 with the same V6 engine as this Murano. It leaks some oil, but it starts right up and runs beautifully. And she had a Frontier pickup for many years that served her well. I trust Nissan trucks and SUVs, and can recommend them. So the question today is, which flavor do you want, and how ugly are you willing to tolerate?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)