2015 Nissan Murano: First Drive

December 8, 2014

As we’re getting acquainted with the 2015 Nissan Murano for the first time, it’s eye-opening to note all that this mid-size crossover doesn’t have: There are no multiple drive modes here, no variable steering assist settings, and no steering-wheel shift paddles, no low range or towing mode either.

This is a vehicle that’s easy to figure out. You get in, and the driving interface is what most people are used to, yet with just the right gloss, gleam, blanketing, and buffeting.

READ: Why The 2015 Nissan Murano's 'Gearless' CVT Feels Like It's Shifting

And yet on the outside, it’s gloriously complex. It’s as much a rolling sculpture as some sports cars, and you’re turning heads, every step of the way. The Murano really is that good-looking—and something refreshingly different next to the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Edge, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

That aside, for the moment, the 2015 Nissan Murano feels like it was cleverly reverse-engineered to be exactly what it needed to be—stylish, comfortable, quiet transportation for empty-nesters, with plenty of capability to bring friends along.

There’s a lot more than a grain of truth to that. The second-generation Murano, which made its debut in 2009, never lived up to the sales numbers of the first-gen model—although in all fairness, the recession may have been more to blame.

Nevertheless, Nissan reached out to existing owners of the Murano and asked them what they wanted a future Murano to be. From that, “Provocative, Premium, Optimistic,” was the theme used to sum up the feedback. Owners wanted, above all, a vehicle that was visually striking yet sophisticated.

ALSO SEE: Tesla Model S, Chevy Corvette Top List Of Vehicles Owners Would Buy Again

Straightforward in its mission, stunning in its presentation

And they sure did get it with the 2015 Nissan Murano. What makes this one of the most noteworthy new vehicles of the year from an otherwise straightforward, predictable template is the absolutely stunning exterior of this crossover.

In profile, in stance, and in the exterior details, the Murano follows very closely in the steps of the Resonance Concept that was shown at the Detroit Auto Show less than two years ago. And we can actually say we like the production car better, for its synergies in some of the design details, in the ‘boomerang’ design of the headlights and taillights, the ‘V-motion’ grille and hood sculpting, and in how the arched flare above its front wheelwell is echoed over the rear wheels, where the beltline pinches upward toward the ‘floating’ roofline in one of the most distinctive design cues.

The overall result is a vehicle that plays a multitude of visual tricks—appearing lower and far more sport-wagon-like than its predecessor. It’s unlike any other crossover, whether with a luxury badge or a mainstream one.

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