New & Used Nissan Murano: In Depth
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The Nissan Murano is a five-seat crossover SUV that's being revamped for the 2015 model year. A companion to the bigger, seven-seat Pathfinder, the Murano is a car-based ute that's meant for on-road driving and all-weather traction, through standard front-wheel or optional all-wheel drive.MORE: Read our 2015 Nissan Murano full review for more information, including photos, news, and driving impressions. You can also see the Murano vs. its competitors.
Launched back in 2003, and redesigned for the 2009 model year, the Murano was Nissan's very first crossover utility vehicle. It was never based on truck underpinnings, although the number of family crossovers with truck hardware underneath has dwindled rapidly over that period.
The third generation Nissan Murano was introduced for the 2015 model year. It features far more expressive styling, a considerably more luxurious and feature-rich interior, and it's intended for "active couples" and empty-nesters who have less need for a third-row seat or the more practical (meaning spill-tolerant) interior features of family wagons.
Instead, the latest Murano is about style, good handling, and--like most other vehicles these days--improved fuel efficiency. It's deliberately positioned as a more urbane alternative to "Mom-mobiles," with more than a dash of style to underscore the difference.
The first 2003-2007 Murano model had a pleasantly edgy, urban shape. Sized like the competition, the Ford Edge and the early Toyota Highlander, the Murano took the styling kudos. Mechanically, it also had an edge over the Ford and the Toyota, with better steering and a more nimble feel, thanks to its family-plan architecture based on Nissan's well-received Altima four-door.
The first Murano's interior offered five-passenger seating and a decently roomy cargo space as well. Safety proved very good, with the crossover earning the federal government's top ratings for front and side-impact protection (under test criteria that have since changed).
Power in the first-generation Murano came from a 245-horsepower version of Nissan's corporate 3.5-liter V-6. The power flowed to front-wheel or all-wheel drive via a continuously variable transmission--a gearless, stepless unit that uses belts and pulleys to vary transmission ratios. While CVTs can improve fuel economy, they also generally add to powertrain noise and feel slow to respond. The Murano's CVT was easily the least attractive part of its package.
After Nissan skipped the 2008 model year altogether, the 2009 Murano didn't differ too dramatically from the original underneath, but the sheetmetal changed nearly all for the better--save for a toothy grille slotted in up front. The running gear migrated to the fourth-generation Nissan Altima platform, and the powertrain was updated to 265 hp (it's now rated at 260 hp). The CVT was upgraded to include programmed "gears" that gave the transmission the feel of an automatic gearbox, with paddle shifters enabling driver choice of the ratios.
Nissan expanded the Murano family for 2012 with the unusual CrossCabriolet convertible, and also spun off a new 2013 Pathfinder seven-seat crossover along with a similar Infiniti JX35 seven-seater--which got a new name, Infiniti QX60, for 2014--all from the same basic architecture. For 2013, Nissan added a few features and options, and made several active-safety systems--Moving Object Detection, Blind Spot Warning, and Lane Departure Warning--optional on the second-generation Murano.
The Murano CrossCabriolet was dropped after the 2014 model year
The new Nissan Murano
With a major 2015 redesign, the Nissan Murano gets new, striking looks and a much-improved interior. A sweeping hood ties to a roofline that "floats" over a very small, third side window in the pillar. The tailgate is sharply raked, with a long trailing roof spoiler at its top. Inside, it's all about comfort and luxury, with a long console that extends past the front seats to offer rear passengers their own charging options.
The new Murano's powertrain is a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine developing 240 lb-ft of torque, paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Eventually, the Murano may get the hybrid technology now found in the Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60.
The Murano's seats are like those in the latest Altima, with extra-dense foam for long-distance comfort. The rear seats use three cushions rather than two for added comfort. Nissan says the Murano's cargo area will be among the largest in its segment--and that it can accommodate four large suitcases with the rear seat up.
Safety ratings for the new 2015 Murano won't be out for some time yet, but Nissan has fitted the crossover with its full suite of standard and optional safety features, using data from as many as three separate radar systems and four cameras. Available safety systems include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and surround-view cameras.
A long list of optional features includes leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, remote engine-starting, and heated front and rear seats and cooled front seats. Memory for the driver's seat, steering-wheel, and mirror positions is also available. On the infotainment front, the NissanConnect infotainment and connectivity system, incorporating both navigation and mobile apps, and a premium Bose AM-FM-CD audio system with 11 speakers, HD Radio, and SiriusXM satellite radio.