- Powertrain smoothness
- Right-sized footprint makes parking easier
- Coherent styling inside and out
- Maneuverable and responsive
- No manual mode for CVT
- Less-than-ideal visibility
- Toothy-smile grille
- Lackluster gas mileage
The 2014 Nissan Murano is stylish and refined, but lacks some of the space and efficiency found in competitors.
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.
2014 Nissan Murano
The 2014 Murano wears an upscale, modern look, well-put-together inside and out.
Carrying forward unchanged visually for the 2014 model year, the Murano carries itself assertively, with crisp details and a high-shouldered stance.
Our only real issue with the exterior is the chrome-laden, grinning grille that came with the 2009 redesign. New lamps a few years ago took some of the emphasis off the grille, but it remains a sore point of an otherwise sophisticated look.
Inside the Murano's cabin, the details mesh convincingly, though rounded, bulbous shapes are taken close to excess. A two-tiered instrument panel presents a smooth and curvaceous look, and the overall look and feel is as much budget-Infiniti as it is Maxima-esque.
The center stack arrangement is stylish and logical, with the nav system (or trip-computer screen) up top, and audio and climate controls below.
2014 Nissan Murano
The 2014 Nissan Murano delivers smooth cruising and confident acceleration.
Front-wheel drive is the more common choice, while all-wheel drive is a better pick for regions with more inclement weather, particularly in the winter. All-wheel drive comes standard on the Murano LE, but is available on all trim levels.
The engine shared across the Murano range is Nissan's familiar and capable 3.5-liter VQ-family engine, rated in this application at 260 horsepower. It's a dynamic, mellifluous engine that's ready for everything the Murano's soft, comfortable suspension tune can throw at it--and more.
A single transmission option underpins the full Murano range: a continuously variable transmission, or CVT. The CVT is simple to use: just put it in drive and go. Unlike some of Nissan's other models, the CVT in the Murano gets no programmed simulated gear points for more aggressive acceleration.
Steering in the Murano is responsive, and the ride absorbs road irregularities with ease. On the whole, it's a pleasant, easy-going machine, day in and day out.
If you're so inclined, the Murano can also be tasked with light towing duty, up to a maximum of 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.
2014 Nissan Murano
Comfort & Quality
Though the design-first exterior compromises cargo space a bit, the 2014 Murano's cabin is comfortable and well-made.
The front seats in the Murano are particularly comfortable, even across a wide range of body types and sizes. Taller occupants will note that the sunroof does cut into headroom, and rear-seat use is best reserved for two people rather than the theoretical maximum of three, but on the whole, it's a well-executed cabin space.
Nissan's choice to put styling first with the Murano does come with some drawbacks, however; there's just not much space behind the already tight second row, and even with the rear seat folded down, the unusual shape and high cargo floor compromise its utility as a load bay even further.
That folding second-row seatback can be had in power-operated form on higher-trim models, however, and a power liftgate is also available. Unless you have difficulty reaching that high, however, the bulk and size of the Murano's hatch doesn't really make the power liftgate a must-have feature.
Quality, fit, and finish of materials throughout the cabin are generally very good, on par with the Maxima sedan in most respects, and in others, as good as as luxury-brand alternative. Trims and materials feel as good as they look, and the cabin is well-insulated against both road and wind noise.
2014 Nissan Murano
The 2014 Nissan Murano offers mostly positive safety scores, and a solid set of standard and available safety technology.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hasn't yet rated the 2014 Murano, but rates the identical 2013 model "good" in front, side, and head-restraint tests, but with a somewhat troubling "marginal" score in roof-strength testing.
Last year, Nissan added several new safety technologies to the Murano, including Moving Object Detection, Blind Spot Warning, and Lane Departure Warning. All of those features are included with the Platinum Edition and SL Navigation Package models. These features should help with the visibility issues incurred by the Murano's body shape.
Standard safety equipment found throughout the Murano range includes: anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, front and side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, and active front head restraints.
For models not equipped with the safety technologies listed above aimed at ameliorating the issue, rear three-quarters visibility can be obscured somewhat by the sloping roofline and thick rear roof support.
2014 Nissan Murano
It's not quite a premium vehicle, but the 2014 Nissan Murano comes close with its tech-centric feature set.
Four main trim lines are available: S, SV, SL, and LE. Base S models come with power windows, locks, and mirrors; climate control; and an AM/FM/CD stereo system standard. Upgrade to the SV and you'll add a dual-panel moonroof, a seven-inch color monitor with backup camera, a universal garage-door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power driver's seat, automatic headlamps, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and USB and iPod hookups, plus satellite radio.
The higher trim SL models add a power-reclining second-row seatback to the SV's feature list, plus leather trim, steering-wheel audio controls, fog lamps, and a heated steering wheel. The top trim, the Murano LE, gets flashy 20-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, leather upholstery, xenon headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a power liftgate, keyless start, wood trim, and a nine-speaker Bose audio system with dual subwoofers on top of the SL's standard gear.
Available extras in the Murano range include the Bose audio system, DVD entertainment system, leather upholstery, navigation, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera. Murano SV models can add the SV Value Package, which bundles the Bose audio, power liftgate, and navigation system.
The Murano LE might sound like it's loaded--and it is--but it also stickers at up to $45,000. For that kind of money, you could be looking at an equivalent Infiniti.
2014 Nissan Murano
The 2014 Nissan Murano is an average performer at the gas pump.
Part of that comes down to the 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine under the hood. The rest comes down to weight and aerodynamics.
Whatever the cause, however, the 2014 Murano rates its best in front-drive form, at 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, the Murano's scores are nearly identical, at 18 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined.
The Murano won't impress compared to some of the latest four-cylinder crossovers and compact SUVs, but it is on par for V-6 models, and the CVT helps make for reliable, even sometimes impressive real-world numbers in our testing.