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The Nissan Murano is a function-meets-form kind of crossover vehicle. It's cheerfully styled, drives smoothly, and feels easygoing--and that makes it a good matchup for drivers that want a balanced, calm, commuting machine.
Now nearing the end of its model cycle, the Murano is still a handsome crossover. Its proportions are anything but mainstream, with high shoulders and rounded, organic shapes that flow into each other. The result stands out from the blocky, rugged-look crowd. Inside, the cabin styling risks excessive mimickry of the exterior at times, but is, on the whole, attractive enough. New for the 2014 model year is the Tinted Bronze exterior with graphite interior combination; the Tinted Bronze paint was previously only available with a black interior.
Under the hood of the Murano you'll find just one engine: Nissan's proven and capable VQ V-6 engine. Displacing 3.5 liters and producing 260 horsepower, the engine is easily up to the task of moving the Murano about with pep. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic isn't usually our cup of tea, but in the Murano, it seems to work well, with smooth acceleration and no excessive engine noise. Unlike some CVTs Nissan offers, the Murano's has no simulated "manual" gear shift points to call on directly. On the handling front, the Murano's steering and feel is direct and light, essentially no different from a mid-sized sedan.
Both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive versions are available--but the vast majority sold are front-wheel drive. The AWD option is available on all four trim variants: S, SV, SL, and LE. Opting for all-wheel drive will cost 1 mpg on the highway, bringing the standard Murano's 18/24 mpg city/highway to 18/23 mpg. Neither score is particularly impressive given the Murano's size.
The Murano's cabin is comfortable, especially in the front row, where the seats are adjustable for a wide range of body types and sizes, though head room is reduced a bit by the sunroof. Second-row seating is also short on head room, and the rear bench's height can seem too low for taller adults. Behind the second row, there's not as much cargo space as you might expect. Like the lack of second-row head room, these shortages are largely a result of the curvy exterior shape. Further hindering the utility of the cargo area is a high cargo floor and irregular shape to the space, even with the rear seats folded forward.
Last year, the Murano added a range of optional, new active safety systems, including blind spot warning, moving object detection, and lane departure warning. The four-trim Murano model range spans a similarly wide range of equipment and pricing. The higher-end SL and LE models offer a premium, almost luxury-class feel, but carry a price tag to match. The more affordable S and SV models cut some corners, but still offer a good base spec of features. All models get power windows, locks, and mirrors; climate control; and an audio system with AM/FM/CD head unit. Optional upgrades include a Bose audio system; heated steering wheel; navigation; Bluetooth; and a rearview camera.
Nissan's oddest duck, the Murano-based CrossCabriolet two-door convertible crossover, carries forward for the 2014 model year, too, now offered in one well-equipped model.
- Powertrain smoothness
- Right-sized footprint makes parking easier
- Coherent styling inside and out
- Maneuverable and responsive
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- No manual mode for CVT
- Less-than-ideal visibility
- Toothy-smile grille
- Lackluster gas mileage