2010 Nissan Murano

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
October 23, 2009

Buying tip

A loaded 2010 Nissan Murano checks in at well over $40,000. At such a price, you could have an Infiniti EX35 with some options or a base FX35.

features & specs

2WD 4-Door LE
2WD 4-Door S
2WD 4-Door SL
18 city / 23 hwy
18 city / 23 hwy
18 city / 23 hwy

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.


2010 Nissan Murano


Even if some of the exterior details on the 2010 Nissan Murano make it look a little odd, it's one very sleek, suave design overall.

Last year, the Nissan Murano got a complete redesign, with a cleaner, sleeker look on the outside (except for the controversial grille), along with a more sophisticated-looking interior. Overall, reviewers are split over some of the details on the Murano, but responses are way more positive than negative.

Reviewers have plenty to say about the exterior styling of the 2010 Nissan Murano. AutoWeek likes the “cleaner look,” while Cars.com thinks “the Murano's nose looks like a cross between the previous generation and the smaller Rogue crossover,” and counters that the “rear end isn’t as bulbous.” MyRide dissects the Murano’s styling and compares it to the 2007 version (Nissan skipped the 2008 model year as it prepared the new version). MyRide notes the headlights form a horizontal line with the grille now, while the fenders have "a strong-shouldered appearance.” They also point out the climbing line down the side of the Murano, and its “clean new tail design,” with standard LED tail lamps, so it's not all bad. Automobile is one of the few sources to criticize some of the details—like the grille—lobbing catcalls at the Murano’s “crooked chrome teeth,” its “bulbous bumpers,” and “the ridiculously oversize badging.”

With the redesign that the Nissan Murano received last year, Nissan kept the interior layout virtually the same but completely restyled the instrument panel. MyRide asserts the new interior is “along the lines of what buyers might expect behind an Infiniti badge,” and notes the integration of the gauges and the more upscale materials. Autoblog says, “Softer plastics are found everywhere one might reasonably be expected to put a hand.” They also compliment the Murano’s dash, remarking “the new orange-lighted instrument cluster is a welcome improvement, as is the more ergonomic and eye-pleasing center stack.” AutoWeek approves of the Nissan Murano’s interior, calling it “warm and modern, with simple, easy-to-navigate controls, abundant storage and good build quality.” Car and Driver sums it up by noting that style-wise, the Murano’s interior has “gone from class lagging to class leading.”

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2010 Nissan Murano


Refinement and straight-line acceleration take precedence over edgy handling prowess in the 2010 Nissan Murano.

The 2010 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.

Under the hood of the 2010 Murano is a familiar engine, shared across Nissan's entire car lineup. Edmunds.com proclaims “the 3.5-liter V6 provides plenty of power for almost all situations.” Car and Driver says, “The engine makes a subdued growl under hard acceleration, but the noise goes largely AWOL at part-throttle while cruising down the highway.” It's matched with a CVT automatic that functions especially well in the Murano. Car and Driver records a 0-60 mph time of 7.2 seconds for the Murano—“above average for its class.”

AutoWeek is pleasantly surprised with the Murano’s transmission: “Normally we bemoan CVTs, but Nissan's unit impresses with its fluid operation and adaptive shift control that does a good job of simulating stepped gears.” Automobile Magazine confirms that “power delivery is smooth, consistent, and very strong.” TheCarConnection.com's editors would prefer a manumatic setting during some sportier driving, with simulated gears, like in the Nissan Maxima. MyRide  agrees, saying that they "longed for more deliberate response when the throttle was pinned to the floor, and would welcome a sport or manual-shift mode.” Car and Driver also comments that "the lack of a manumatic controller is a hint that these vehicles are more likely to make school runs than carve mountain roads."

TheCarConnection.com achieves 21 mpg in mostly city driving in a Murano, which we feel is a feat in such a heavy vehicle with a large V-6. But Autoblog is “disappointed with the car's preliminary EPA numbers. Surely more than 18 mpg can be squeezed out of a CVT,” while MyRide observes fuel economy of “about 19 mpg.” The official ratings for the Murano are 18 mpg city, 23 highway, while Ford’s front-drive Edge gets 16/24 mpg and the Mazda CX-7 achieves 17/23 mpg.

The 2010 Nissan Murano doesn't handle with any high-performance edge, but it strikes a good compromise between comfort and responsiveness. Automobile Magazine indicates the Murano “has decent body control, but it can feel a bit floaty.” But the brakes are “strong” and ride quality is “fine.” “It hardly drives as sportingly as the CX-7, but it feels much lighter on its feet than the Edge,” according to Car and Driver. AutoWeek says, “Expressway runs are stable and quiet, while in-town motoring is comfortable and well dampened over rough goings,” and praises its braking and steering feel. ConsumerGuide observes “the ride is well controlled and is abrupt only on sharp potholes and badly broken pavement.”

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2010 Nissan Murano

Comfort & Quality

The beautiful form and design details of the 2010 Nissan Murano don't make this crossover exceptionally roomy or useful, but there's still a lot to like.

Most reviewers point out that the Nissan Murano has a richly appointed interior, but there are quite a few complaints about interior space, as well as visibility—plus some criticisms of the materials used for accents and trims. There's no third-row seat, but the 2010 Murano can accommodate five.

MyRide finds the Murano’s leather-clad front buckets “immensely comfy,” while ConsumerGuide praises the 2010 Nissan Murano’s “large-adult room and comfort,” but “the wide seatbacks could use more side bolstering.” They also note “six-footers have good headroom, even with the optional sunroof.”

MyRide thinks the rear bench has “plenty of room for our five-foot-eight-inch editor,” but many other reviewers complain that space is rather tight in the backseat. Car and Driver notes the interior is “marginally smaller than in the previous model,” but “passenger space is better than in the Ford Edge and Mazda CX-7,” with nearly identical cargo room. Cars.com deems the rear-seat floor “almost perfectly flat,” which is good for foot room.

Cargo space is clearly compromised in the Murano—and TheCarConnection.com's editors note that the cargo floor is a bit higher than in some other crossover models. Autoblog mentions that space is “sacrificed on the altar of attractive exterior design.” The cargo area has one cubic foot less space than the previous Murano, they note, but folding down the backseat frees up 64 cubic feet of room. Cars.com points out that the cargo area is easily accessed, with flip-fold second-row seats that are power-operated in ritzier models. A power liftgate is an option, and the Murano can tow 3,500 pounds.

Most reviewers mention the high-quality feel of the interior, with a few exceptions. Automobile compliments “the Infiniti trickle-down effect in the Murano's cabin, where the handsome center stack looks as if it's straight out of an Infiniti M45,” but they want to throw the “poorly designed cargo cover into a dumpster.” ConsumerGuide says “road noise is fairly well controlled,” and adds, “most controls are easy to reach and use.” Car and Driver finds a lot of fault with trim details, calling the interior trim "cheesy," and "as low-rent as a trailer park in Alabama." Yikes.

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2010 Nissan Murano


The 2010 Nissan Murano has imperfect crash-test scores, but it's well-equipped in the safety department.

Depending on which safety agency you check with, the 2010 Nissan Murano either gets decent or great scores, but all the expected safety features are included.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the 2009 Nissan Murano earns a four-star rating for front crash protection—actually average with the way today's vehicles are rated—and a five-star rating for side-impact protection. The agency also gives the Murano a four-star rollover rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ranks the 2009 Nissan Murano a Top Safety Pick, as it scored a “good” rating in all crash tests and offers standard stability control.

Cars.com adds that the Murano’s curtain airbags “are designed to deploy in the event of a rollover, too.” MyRide notes the Murano’s impressive list of standard safety features, such as anti-lock brakes and its available all-wheel-drive system. The Murano also has curtain airbags and standard tire-pressure monitors, and Edmunds.com reports that active front head restraints are standard features.

According to ConsumerGuide, visibility is good to the front, but to the rear, the Murano’s sloping roofline cuts into sight lines.


2010 Nissan Murano


If you're willing to step up to the top-of-the-line Nissan Murano LE, it has everything you might want in a luxury device, but having it all means parting with nearly $40,000. 

All the reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com’s car experts talk about the Nissan Murano’s extensive list of standard and optional gear.

Car and Driver says that the base S model is "a touch Spartan." Cars.com reports that the base model’s cloth seats “are manual, with six-way driver and four-way passenger adjustments.” Edmunds.com observes the list of standard features on even the base model includes full power accessories, automatic climate control, “a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, split/folding rear seat, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer and auxiliary audio jack.” The Intelligent Key keyless entry and starting system has been added to the standard features list for 2010. The upmarket SL version adds a power driver seat, a power rear seat, and steering-wheel audio controls, while the LE version gets the most standard stuff; it has a power liftgate, heated side mirrors, 20-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, a power passenger seat, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and a Bose audio system. And for 2010, the dual-panel moonroof is standard on the LE.

The options list includes some tempting extras. Autoblog recommends the rear-seat DVD player, but thinks the standard “pushbutton start is a neat gimmick, but it's just that. Same goes for the power open and close liftgate.” They dislike the touchscreen on base models that controls the radio: “We were forced to plod through screen after screen of data using numerous buttons just to change radio stations.” Popular Mechanics notes that with the navigation system, you also get an “audio system with 9.3GB of music storage.”

Car and Driver cautions against ordering all the options: “Fully loaded...a Murano will come close to topping $40,000.” They also note all-wheel drive can be ordered on base models for just $1,600.

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