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The Nissan Murano is a stylish alternative to a sea of rounded family wagons and crossovers, and it doesn't rely on falsely rugged details or blunt, bluff, sheetmetal to distinguish itself smartly.The Murano remains a good-looking vehicle, even today as it approaches the end of the current model's life cycle. When it made its debut, and still today, the Murano is a clean break away from the crossover-vehicle mainstream. The current version, we've thought, carries itself more assertively as a crisply detailed, high-shouldered tall wagon and less than the single-piece designer-footwear look of the first-generation Murano. The toothy chrome grille is a bit of a distraction to the rest of the design, but moving inside to the cabin it all meshes together in a convincing way, even though inside the Murano comes close to overdoing it on the rounded and bulbous shapes.
The 2013 Murano remains powered by Nissan's VQ V-6--a 3.5-liter making 260 horsepower, and mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Even though we're not enthusiastic about CVTs, this one is an exception and seems quite well matched to the engine, allowing smooth, brisk acceleration without an excess of engine noise. There are no pre-programmed manual 'gears' with this unit, though--a slight to driving enthusiasts--yet the Murano steers and handles with more verve and directness than you'd expect from such a vehicle.The Murano is sold mostly in front-wheel-drive form, but there's also an all-wheel-drive model, and AWD is included with the top-of-the-line LE. Most models are front-drive, but all-wheel drive is available, and comes standard on the most expensive Murano LE. It's worth noting that gas mileage is 18/24 mpg at best--at a time when some crossovers about this size achieve much better on the highway especially.
You'll find the front seats in the Murano to be comfortable and adjustable for a wide range of sizes, although the sunroof does cut into headroom. The rear bench feels a bit too low for adults, yet oddly, some adults might find headroom tight back there. That shortage of seating space, and the surprising lack of cargo space behind the second row, are both results of the curvaceous exterior. The second-row seatback folds forward to expand cargo space, but it's hardly a box-like area and the cargo floor is quite high.
For 2013, the Murano gets newly optional active-safety systems: Moving Object Detection, Blind Spot Warning, and Lane Departure Warning systems. All are included with the Platinum Edition or SL Navigation Package, and should help the visibility issues that the curvier body design introduces.
S, SV, SL, and LE versions of the Murano span a wide range of pricing and equipment, with the latter trims feeling like premium or luxury models--and priced that way. Power windows, locks and mirrors; climate control; and an AM/FM/CD player are included in all Murano models, while options include a heated steering wheel; Bose audio; leather upholstery; a navigation system; Bluetooth; and a rearview camera. Newly offered on SV models is an SV Value Package that includes Bose audio, a power liftgate, and a navigation system.
The peculiar Murano CrossCabriolet, a heavy two-door convertible version of the Murano continues for another year unchanged.