Make no mistake: 2022 is the year of the convenience gadget, especially for family-friendly SUVs. Automakers are scrambling to win the tech wars, and the battlefield is an innocuous [not so] little touchscreen nestled at the center of the dash. Regardless of the battlefield, no two giant SUVs are battling for market share with more ferocity than the 2022 Nissan Armada vs 2022 Ford Expedition.
When looking at contenders through the technology lens, we first need to dispatch with the tired old adage that size matters. If your wish list includes buying the SUV with the biggest touchscreen, you might be missing out on a more well-rounded vehicle with more capability. Bigger isn’t always better, especially once you reach the 12-inch screen threshold. Instead, focus on features and the quality of the vehicle overall.
But, we digress. Back to technology. Which automaker – Ford or Nissan – helps buyers access the latest and most advanced in-vehicle technology without sacrificing all the rest? Specifically, how far up the trim range must buyers travel to unlock the best and more desirable features? We answer these and more questions below, so land yacht shoppers can enter the market with clear eyes and realistic must-have lists.
Which Base Model is Best
When comparing the 2022 Armada and the 2022 Expedition, start at the bottom: the base model. The Armada starts at under $50,000, and while Ford hasn’t definitively set pricing as of the time we write this, the base Expedition XL is rumored to start at well over $50k.
What’s included in the base model Armada will pleasantly surprise you, and the degree to which Ford discriminates between base model buyers and top-of-the-line Platinum shoppers will likely infuriate you. For starters, Ford’s latest SYNC 4A operating system is reserved for upper trim buyers. If you’re eyeing an Expedition XL, you’ll receive the simpler SYNC 4 software and the smaller of Ford’s available infotainment touchscreens.
All Armada buyers receive the same version of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, Nissan’s lightning-fast operating system. Also, a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen adorns every Armada trim. Ford starts with a similarly-sized 12-inch screen, but the advanced operating system is reserved for more expensive trims, so prepare to pay more for the best technology. To us, that doesn’t seem fair. This is especially true for families since in-vehicle entertainment is high on the list of desirable features.
Furthering the point, Ford teases several next-generation technology features for the newest Expedition but neglects to inform buyers that acquiring them pushes the price up over the $80,000 mark. That’s the same price point as high-end European luxury imports, which begs the question: are buyers with close to $100,000 to spend willing to purchase a Ford? Instead, a top-of-the-line Armada can be had for around $65k.
Unmatched Performance and Capability
The base model bias continues under the hood, where a quick spec comparison reveals the Armada’s category-leading power and capability. For 2022, the Nissan Armada offers a standard 400 horsepower 5.6-liter V8 engine, a powerplant deemed “potent” by the editors at Car and Driver, who also use the adjectives “authority” and “confidence” to describe its ride quality.
Ford’s base model Expedition XL relies on a smaller 3.5-liter V6 outputting 380 horsepower. If you want a 400 horsepower Expedition, you’ll need to upgrade to the pricey Limited trim. Of the Expedition’s overall handling, Car and Driver reports that it’s “ungainly” and the steering feel is “imprecise,” an option that won’t engender much confidence among would-be buyers. Let’s face it: a large SUV deserves a big V8 motor.
As for towing capacity, don’t be fooled by Ford’s splashy Expedition marketing campaign. The automaker boasts the Expedition’s class-leading 9,300-pound max towing capacity, but since we’re talking about overall value, finding a compromise between price and features remains the goal. Equipping an Expedition with the max towing capability means finding a model with the optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Towing Package. Meanwhile, the Armada offers an 8,500-pound standard max towing capacity vs the Expedition’s much lower 6,600-pound standard rating.
Overall, the base Armada S offers more standard luxury features than its rival, the entry Expedition XL. Dual-zone automatic temperature control is standard, as is a push-button start, power front and rear seat windows with one-touch up/down, a rear door alert that reminds the driver to check in the back before departing, and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Nissan’s Door to Door Navigation is also standard.
Safety and Driver-Assist Technology
For the 2022 model year, every Armada is equipped with a plethora of advanced semi-autonomous driver-assist technology. Buyers will find Intelligent Cruise Control, Driver Alertness, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Intervention systems included across the trim range; but, what exactly is an “intelligent” driver-assist system?
Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist technology relies on a forward-facing camera that constantly monitors both the vehicle’s location relative to lane markers and the speed of the car ahead. It then adjusts speed and steering to maintain an optimal position that minimizes the potential for a collision and eliminates the need for drivers to adjust speed manually. Nissan believes this technology will reduce driver fatigue, and we have to agree.
Over at Ford, the engineers boast a similarly vast array of driver-assist technology, but a closer look reveals the most advanced systems can only be found on the top-of-the-line Expedition Platinum trim. Safety is always in the top three on most large SUV buyers’ lists, and nothing is more frustrating than knowing you have to abandon optional safety features to stay within the budget.
Any large SUV that can boast both the lowest starting MSRP in its class and the most standard safety technologies is easily worth a test drive, which is why the Armada should be on your list. Further, automotive journalists are in almost unanimous agreement that even lower-end Armada trims offer plenty of high-end luxury. Can you outfit an Expedition with equivalent features? Sure, but you’ll probably pay more.
Why Overall Value Matters
For some buyers, choosing between the available large SUVs is more about aesthetics and prestige, but for everyone else, value is the overarching goal. Ford is endeavoring to appeal to younger families with its newest Expedition, and that means offering tech-heavy trims and novelty features that exist primarily to best the competition.
Instead, a more well-rounded SUV like the 2022 Nissan Armada bundles plenty of tech features, safety systems, and roomy accommodations for people and cargo. It sticks to the script without asking customers to reach too deep into their pockets. For that reason alone, it wins the value war, trumping trendiness with a more practical approach to family-friendly transportation.
The 2022 Armada is one year removed from a significant refresh, meaning buyers get the latest innovations without paying the novelty surcharge associated with Ford’s 2022 Expedition upgrade. Riding the cyclical upgrade wave takes a little bit of savvy, so ask yourself if it’s worth potentially thousands more to drive an SUV with essentially the same equipment.
We think that value should always be part and parcel of any new vehicle purchase. Why should buyers abandon practicality to gain access to new technology? Instead, a measured approach – one that balances newness with practicality – helps you avoid the dreaded buyer’s remorse. It’s much more satisfying to gaze out your window and see a great-looking SUV that didn’t cost a premium parked in your driveway.