- Smooth, strong powertrain
- Just-right size for urban commuters
- Cohesive design inside and out
- Overall refinement
- Weird front-end design
- Difficult rearward visibility
- Surprisingly tight interior
- No manual mode for the CVT
- High price
The 2011 Nissan Murano isn't the most practical choice among crossovers, but it's a gem for style and refinement.
The 2011 Nissan Murano is considerably more stylish and refined than other mid-size crossovers, and that's one of its main selling points. 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. While the look mostly got considerably sleeker and flamboyant with its last redesign, with bulbous fenders and oversize badging, the Murano's grille is, to be kind, controversial, with the very glitzy chrome grille looking like crooked teeth. For 2011, Nissan has toned down the look in front a little bit, by incorporating running lamps and reducing the grille's size. Tail lamps also get a cleaner look.
Power for all 2011 Nissan Murano models comes from a smooth, powerful 3.5-liter V-6 engine, paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Murano S, SV, 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's powertrain is responsive and leans toward doing the right thing, complementing the responsive handling and firm but absorbent ride. The 2011 Nissan Murano isn't a performance machine, nor is it completely comfort-oriented. But thanks to its city-slick style and a gutsy yet very refined powertrain, the Murano manages to pull off that compromise in a way that will please almost everyone.
While the 2011 Nissan Murano is very satisfying in terms of styling and performance, space and utility are disappointments. 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, but the Murano is primarily a four-passenger vehicle. 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.
A new value-packed SV trim joins the Murano lineup for 2011; the SV trims fit between basic S and mid-level SL trims in the lineup, while the luxurious LE trim still still tops off the range.
A number of 2011 model year enhancements for the Murano include a change of instrument panel illumination from orange to white, the addition of an auto dimming rearview mirror with compass and HomeLink Universal Transceiver to Murano SL. This model also comes available with a heated steering wheel, a Bose stereo with nine speakers and a dual subwoofer. Finally, the Murano LE comes with new center stack colors and new wood grain trim. Nissan has also added a new Graphite Blue color option to the range.