Drive Wire: February 12, 2016

Nissan's new Armada, a tougher Dodge Wagon, a Kia hybrid, a phone-charging wallet, and epic trail runs.

Hey guys, it’s Christina Thompson and this is Drive Wire for Friday, February 12.

Lots of Chicago Auto Show news coming our way in the next few days, and we’re starting out with a good one – Nissan tells us the 2017 Nissan Armada SUV will share a platform with the body-on-frame patrol. That’s a big deal, because it means the Armada will get a fully boxed ladder frame to improve overall stability. (pause) we wanted to like the old Armada, but driving it was kind of like eating a big overstuffed reuben sandwich, just sloppy and going all over the place. This improved Armada is just what we want in a true rugged SUV, a solid truck with three rows, all-or-rear wheel drive, and a 390-horsepower V-8. Well done, Nissan.

The Dodge Power Wagon doesn’t need any help being tough, but now it’s been upgraded to look tougher. The base interior gets seats with a Goodyear Wrangler tire-tread pattern and can be upgraded to a leather or an all-business “tradesman” interior. The exterior features a new blacked-out grille and headlight treatment, which gives the truck an aggressive I-don’t-care-what-you-think look. But the best part might be the new power-wagon vertical graphic on the truck’s flanks, a supercool detail straight out of the ‘70s. Nice to see Ram’s tough guy isn’t going anywhere.

In eco-friendly crossover news, the Kia Niro dedicated hybrid has been revealed. The compact crossover features a 4-cylinder gas engine coupled to an electric motor on the transmission for a combined 146 system horsepower, which is completely adequate. Kia claims owners will see fuel economy approaching 50 miles per gallon, thanks to that drivetrain and the latest lightweight construction techniques. If you like what you see from the 2017 Niro at the auto show, you’ll be able to buy one later this year.

Today’s gear pick is Nomad’s nifty iPhone charging wallet. Simply put, it’s a 24-hundred milli-amp per hour battery in a rather handsome wallet. The dual purpose wallet gives you enough power to completely charge your phone and enough capacity to carry all the cards and cash your heart desires. The Nomad Wallet features an Apple-certified Lightning plug for durability and is available at hellonomad.com

Today’s ridiculous video proves that mountain lions can shred the trails just as well as mere humans. With an oddly placed GoPro, we see the king of the mountain fly high and take heavy banks with ease. We have no idea why this is more amusing in a costume, but it is and we’re not going to fight it.

That’s it for today’s edition of Drive Wire. For more, be sure to come back to thedrive.com, and follow us @thedrive on all your favorite social media platforms.