2010 Nissan Murano Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
October 23, 2009

The 2010 Nissan Murano appeals to those who value style and refinement above absolute practicality.

In order to present a comprehensive take on the 2010 Nissan Murano and how it measured up to other mid-size crossover vehicles, the editors of TheCarConnection.com have driven the Murano and examined it inside and out. And to bring you the most comprehensive review, TheCarConnection.com has combed the Web for the most useful information from other reputable sources.

With underpinnings based on those of the mid-size Altima sedan, the 2010 Nissan Murano is a bit more stylish and sportier than the typical crossover vehicle. With seating for five, it does not offer a third row of seating, off-road ability, or impressive towing capability. Think of it more as a tall, style-conscious wagon that doesn't instantly evoke images of strollers and animal crackers.

The Murano's smooth, unified styling inside and out is part of what makes it so appealing to shoppers in the first place. With last year's redesign, the Murano received a significantly revamped interior, with an instrument panel that's a little more distinctive and echoed some of the features in Nissan's Infiniti luxury brand, as well as the last Altima redesign. The Murano's center stack of controls has a new two-tiered design, with a screen (nav system or trip computer) up top and audio/climate functions below. In between, it gets a set of menu buttons and a controller for screen-based functions. The gauge cluster is also revamped, replacing a flat set of instruments with a multilayered arrangement of hooded dials. Overall, the Murano now has a richness in its materials that stands out in the practically minded crossover class.

A smooth, powerful 3.5-liter V-6 engine, paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) provides the power for all Muranos. The S and SL versions come with front-wheel drive and an optional all-wheel-drive system, while the top LE version has standard all-wheel drive. Overall, the Murano is one of the best CVT-equipped vehicles TheCarConnection.com has driven, with smooth, unobtrusive operation and less of the rubber-band feel that you get with smaller engines and CVTs. Only if you drive the Murano fast on a curvy road do you miss real gears; while some other CVT vehicles, like Nissan's Maxima, offer six simulated ratios, the Murano doesn't. That said, the Murano's powertrain is responsive and leans toward doing the right thing, complementing the responsive handling and firm but absorbent ride. Fuel economy also tends to be decent for a V-6 vehicle of this size, with ratings of 18 mpg city, 23 highway whether with front- or all-wheel drive.

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While the Murano is very satisfying in terms of styling and performance, it's a little disappointing for space and utility. The front seats are comfortable and adjustable for a wide range of drivers, the backseat has just enough legroom, and the seating position feels somewhat low. Three adults can fit across if need be. Due to the roofline, the cargo area is a bit small with the second row up in place, and the cargo floor is higher than you might guess from the outside.

Depending on which safety agency you check with, the 2010 Nissan Murano either gets decent but not great scores, or the best possible results. The federal government gives the Murano an average four stars in frontal impact but five stars in side impact tests, but the Murano gets "good" scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in frontal offset, side, and rear impact tests, and it's even an IIHS Top Safety Pick. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags are all standard.

The 2010 Murano is offered in S, SL, and LE trims. S and SL models are available with front- or all-wheel drive, while the top-of-the-line LE is AWD-only. The base 2010 Nissan Murano S comes with a cloth interior and 18-inch alloy wheels but is well equipped, with cruise control, the Intelligent Key entry and starting system, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, and a six-speaker sound system with six-disc changer and auxiliary input. SL models add a reclining rear seatback with power return, plus leather trim and steering-wheel audio controls, as well as fog lamps. The top LE model now includes the dual-panel moonroof packs on the most desirable features like flashy 20-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats, xenon headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a power liftgate, keyless start, wood trim, and a garage door opener. It also gets a Bose audio system with nine speakers, XM Satellite Radio, and dual subwoofers, plus a Bluetooth hands-free interface, which is optional on a Technology Package in other models. Other top options include a a rear DVD entertainment system, and a navigation system, including Music Box hard-drive storage.

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