The 2012 Nissan Murano won't satisfy any performance cravings, and it's not all that comfort-oriented either. 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.
All Muranos are powered by the latest iteration of Nissan's VQ engine. Here, the 3.5-liter V-6 puts out 260 horsepower through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
We tend not to be very thrilled by the performance allowed by CVTs, but this one is tuned well, allowing the engine to run in the mid-rev range during most acceleration, where it churns out the torque yet maintains a refined, composed character that the four-cylinder applications (like the smaller Rogue crossover) simply don't. But unlike many other CVT units, the one in the Murano doesn't include pre-programmed 'gears,' to give it more of a performance feel; and the result is that you won't think of the Murano, at all, in a performance light. It's merely a particularly strong, smooth wagon.
Fortunately, the Murano's above average when it comes to handling, with responsive steering and an absorbent, slightly firm ride. 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.The Murano can tow about the same as most minivans—3,500 pounds, when properly equipped.