2016 Nissan Murano Review

Consumer Reviews
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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
June 27, 2016

Buying tip

The available 20-inch wheels add a bit of road harshness and do little for handling. Try before you buy.

Smooth, quiet and comfortable, the 2016 Nissan Murano is a stylish choice for empty-nesters who aren't concerned with sportiness or off-road capability.

The flamboyant, head-turning Nissan Murano is quite the icebreaker. Elegance, style, and luxury-like ambiance—not ruggedness and trail prowess—are the focus of the Murano. It’s not aimed so much at diaper-changing parents and carpool duty, either. Those are the roles of Nissan’s Rogue and Pathfinder, after all. And performance might take second stage to comfort, but to the older, albeit style-conscious empty-nester couples Nissan is targeting more than ever with this Murano, that’s quite alright.

The 2016 Murano mid-size crossover is at once a charming outlier and a carefully designed inside job that, whichever way you see it, breaks out of the crossover mold in meaningful ways.

The Murano takes some of the style of the Pathfinder and amplifies it, with a look that is very close to the Resonance Concept that Nissan rolled out at auto shows in 2013. Nissan designers aimed to counter the heavy, chunky look of traditional sport-utility vehicles with the Murano, and we think they brilliantly succeeded, not only in that, but in producing a vehicle that nearly everyone will agree is one of the best-looking contemporary crossovers.

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With the fully realized "V-motion" grille, boomerang-style headlights, and a floating roof with blacked out pillars, the Murano looks like no other crossover on the market from the outside. The details are abundant. The grille's lines continue upward and onward into the hoodline, the headlights and taillights frame some of the most expressive creases and curves in any production model today, and a distinct arc in the beltline pinches the bodywork upward near the tail. Inside, it’s not quite as daring, but its inspiration and wide layout is grander, swoopier, and a little bit more daring than in rivals. We appreciate the simplicity of the Murano’s control interfaces, as they’re clean and well-conceived, with some physical buttons where they make sense.

Although the exterior is as extroverted as can be, it doesn’t cut into interior space and usability. Inside, you’ll find a lot of passenger space, reasonably good cargo versatility, and a quiet, refined ambiance. The driving position is just right, and the rather low-set dash should allow even shorter drivers to feel comfortable, while there’s plenty of headroom above, even for tall drivers with the available moonroof. Not everyone will love the so-called "Zero Gravity" seats, but the outboard back seats in the Murano are true comfort zones, contoured for adults and with plenty of space.

To some, the Murano’s expressive exterior may hint at an engaging, emotional driving experience, but that’s not the case. The empty-nester types that the Murano is taking aim at want confident performance, but things like ride quality and cabin quietness take priority over that. The Murano's engine has powered mid-size Nissan cars and crossovers for years. It's a the 3.5-liter V-6, making 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired to the latest iteration of the automaker’s continuously variable automatic transmission, here omitting things like a tow mode or a low range. In front- or all-wheel-drive form, the Murano delivers what matters to its target buyer: strong, confident, refined performance, all without sacrificing too much comfort along the way.

The Murano is offered in S, SV, SL and Platinum models. For the S and SV models, the feature list is quite robust, especially if you gauge it on value, as the Murano comes with a price tag that undercuts the Lexus RX and Acura MDX by $10,000. Move up to the SL and top-of-the-line Platinum models, and you get a lot more, albeit at a price that approaches those luxury-badge models.

The Platinum has features like heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and power-folding rear seats. It is an attempt to offer a model that truly competes with the RX 350 and MDX—in all but the cachet of the luxury badge itself, of course.

All models except the Murano S include an upgraded infotainment system with a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen, voice recognition for navigation and audio, and SiriusXM Travel Link services for fuel prices, weather, movie listings, stock information, and sports scores.

In addition to a safety set that’s already solid, the Nissan Murano SL and Platinum models include standard blind-spot monitors, as well as rear cross-traffic alerts, which can warn you of vehicles approaching from the side when in reverse, while the available surround-view camera system can spot and warn of vehicles or objects with a chime and notification. These systems and the forward-collision warning system use information from four cameras and three radar sensors to spot issues ahead and help react to them quicker; they’re optional as part of a package on the SL and Platinum models.

Regardless of drivetrain—front- or all-wheel drive—the Rogue manages official ratings of 21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined, according to the EPA.

10

2016 Nissan Murano

Styling

One of today's best-looking crossovers, the 2016 Nissan Murano brings concept car looks to the street. , elegant, and radically different.

With this generation Murano, Nissan designers aimed to counter the heavy, chunky look of traditional sport-utility vehicles, and we think they succeeded brilliantly. In fact, we feel they have produced a vehicle that nearly everyone will agree is one of the best-looking contemporary crossovers. That's what can happen when a company sticks to the character and feel of a concept car, and the Murano is a close match for the Resonance Concept originally shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 2013.

Up top, you find a "floating" roof with blacked-out side and rear pillars making the roof appear as a separate, hovering design element. This isn’t something that’s exclusive to the Murano. It’s used on a wide range of vehicles from the Mini Cooper to the Kia Soul and Nissan's own Maxima sedan. However, what makes it unique here is the combination of a smoothly arched, curved roofline with the floating aesthetic.

The side-body sculpting in particular is beautiful and visually interesting, with a flowing crease above the bulging front fenders, tapering down and inward to form a distinct beltline. Meanwhile, toward the taillights, the window line has an upward swoop that arches back down toward the rear lamps, playing off as a riff on that arch above the front wheels.

Below the beltline, the body-side sculpting is more subtle, with the sheet metal gradually tapering outward for the rear wheels, giving it proportions that wouldn’t seem out of place in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, or on the more performance-focused Infiniti QX70 (formerly FX), for example.

The front end is perhaps the boldest part of the design. It features Nissan’s so-called V-motion grille, with diagonals flaring outward from the leading edge of the bumper and the Nissan logo. Again, this design is also found on the Maxima. The design is consistent, as the diagonals from the grille continue down below in the lower airdam area and up above in the hood. It can also be found in the boomerang-style headlights (and taillights) that serve as endpoints for side-body contouring. Even in back, where crossover designs often resort to convention, there’s plenty of design consistency with those headlights and some modest creases and contours.

Inside, the instrument panel is set quite low, and the dash combines a rather V-shaped center stack—possibly echoing the grille—contrasting with a smooth, wraparound beltline that flows into the front doors, yet in a way that doesn’t interfere with occupant space. Nissan officials said that it was designed as a "panoramic space," and it feels that way.

Hooded gauges bring a sporty touch, and the matte-metallic trim around the steering wheel, center console, and gauges is one of the few ordinary touches in an interior that otherwise has some pretty outstanding trims and finishes. There’s no woodgrain anywhere in the lineup, which seems a bit odd given the otherwise upscale cabin. While it is plastic, we do like the distinct trim offered in some models for the wrap-around section, door panels, and center console; it reminds us a bit of old mid-century modern linoleum patterns.

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7

2016 Nissan Murano

Performance

The 2016 Nissan Murano delivers strong engine performance and foregoes engaging handling for a smooth, confident ride.

The 2016 Nissan Murano isn’t one of the stronger performers in its class, if you go purely by performance numbers. But the Murano has plenty of what matters to its target buyer: strong, confident, refined performance, all without sacrificing too much comfort along the way.

The Murano’s underpinnings are very car-like, with a front strut layout, a multi-link rear suspension design, and a front subframe that helps damp out some of the worst road shocks while keeping a more "connected" feeling with the road.

The electrohydraulic rack-and-pinion steering has a good, relaxed feel on center, and it loads up nicely. The suspension makes some definite sacrifices in ultimate handling ability, in the name of comfort, but these are sacrifices that the vast majority of shoppers will happily make. There’s quite a lot of body lean in tight corners, but the Murano always feels buttoned-down and quite composed, with few if any secondary motions as the road turns rougher. The four-wheel vented disc brakes also feel confident and well modulated.

One thing to keep in mind is that models with the 18-inch wheels handle just as well as those with the 20-inch wheels, except for a slight bit more precision in quick transitions. With the larger wheels, you introduce more road harshness to the cabin. Unless you live in a region with very smooth road surfaces or absolutely must have the 20-inchers for the way they look in the wheelwells (a bit better, admittedly), go with the 18s.

The Murano's engine has powered mid-size Nissan cars and crossovers for years. It's Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6, making 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Nissan pairs it with the latest iteration of the automaker’s continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), here omitting things like a tow mode or a low range.

Acceleration isn’t especially quick within the Murano’s class, but it’s all that most buyers will expect, with reasonably brisk pickup off the line and quite strong passing power. The Murano also doesn’t feel sluggish when you need quick bursts of power, which is an issue that affects a lot of its other CVT-equipped vehicles. Thanks to plentiful low-rev torque from this engine, it gathers speed quickly as the CVT lowers the ratio.

The CVT shifts with pronounced "steps" that mimic gears when you’re accelerating rapidly but at more gentle acceleration it merely keeps the rpm in the very low rev range. On the other hand, full acceleration pegs it in the upper reaches of the engine’s rev band. The engine is remarkably smooth, civil, and pleasant-sounding regardless.

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9

2016 Nissan Murano

Comfort & Quality

Quiet and comfortable for up to five, the Murano's cabin also straddles the line between mainstream and luxury.

Flamboyant exterior designs, such as those for the 2016 Nissan Murano, can cut into interior space and usability, but that’s not the case here. Although this is a very eye-catching, different crossover on the outside, Nissan clearly used some restraint inside, as the cabin offers a lot of passenger space, reasonably good cargo versatility, and a quiet, refined ambiance.

We’re conflicted about the seats, for which Nissan uses the term "Zero Gravity." Inspired by a NASA-measured "neutral posture," they’re aimed at reducing fatigue from long drives, by providing a more articulated level of support from the pelvis to the chest, through the lumbar area especially. While we agree that the backrests are very comfortable, the seats could use better support for the lower cushions at the thighs. Our admittedly long-legged 6-foot-6-inch editor felt like the lower seat cushions were shorter than in some competing models (like the Edge and Grand Cherokee, for instance). By the way, we actually prefer the suede-like cloth seats in S and SV models to the perforated leather, though if you want heated seats you have to go with leather.

Other than that minor complaint, entry and exit to the front and rear seats is at an optimal height, and we find the driving position to be just right. The rather low-set dash should allow even shorter drivers to feel comfortable, while there’s plenty of headroom above, even for tall drivers with the available moonroof. The center console has dual elbow rests, making it look like the console might have a dual-lidded design, like some luxury vehicles, yet it’s one large lid and console compartment. However, Nissan does redeem the space with some very useful lower storage bins next to the footwells.

In back, the same seating philosophy has been applied for the outboard seats, and we’re happy to report that they’re among the most comfortable adult-size back seats in any vehicle, especially one without an all-out luxury badge. These seats also don't sit as low as you’ll find in some rival models, so you’re at essentially the same height as those in the front seat and therefore conversation is easy. However, the middle position isn’t nearly as comfortable or contoured as the outboard positions. With this in mind, the Murano is best left as a four-seater, unless the middle position is to be occupied occasionally by children. Altogether, with the wide center console and the attention paid to comfort in the outboard rear seats, Nissan has termed the open middle of the Murano “conversation alley.”

The back seat folds flat, and cargo space is more usable than you might think. While the rear of the vehicle looks like it tapers up top, it’s more of a visual trick brought on by the sculpted-outward rear wheelwell area.

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9

2016 Nissan Murano

Safety

Nissan offers several active-safety features, but many are only available on top trim levels.

All 2016 Nissan Murano models come standard with frontal airbags, front-seat mounted side bags, roof-mounted side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, knee bolsters, and a driver supplemental knee bag, as well as front active head restraints, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, and anti-lock brakes. There are also three child-seat upper tether anchors.

Murano SL and Platinum models add standard blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts, which warns you of vehicles approaching from the side when in reverse. The available surround-view camera system can detect moving objects—such as children—and alert the driver.

Available active-safety technologies in the Technology Package might help you avoid an accident, or at the least, lessen the severity of one. Forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking uses information from four cameras and three radar sensors to spot issues ahead and help react to them quicker and with more decisive braking than the driver otherwise might. These systems not only study the vehicle ahead, but the vehicle ahead of that, which could help avoid a potential pileup situation.

Most impressive is its Top Safety Pick+ result from the IIHS, which includes the top "Good" rating in the small overlap frontal category. That also includes a top "Superior" rating for front crash prevention, contingent on the optional safety systems in the Technology Package.

However, the NHTSA hasn't fully tested the 2016 Nissan Murano. The federal government awards the crossover with five stars for side impact and four for rollover but hasn't yet completed its front impact test. 

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2016 Nissan Murano

Features

Well equipped and reasonably priced, the mid-grade SV and SL models are the best values.

The 2016 Nissan Murano wears a mainstream badge, and that leaves room for quite a range in factory builds, from the base front-wheel drive S model, at just over $30,000, up to the top-of-the-line Platinum model at around $46,000 fully loaded. And on any of the trims, you have a choice between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.

Standard equipment on the base Murano S includes dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-way (height-adjustable) driver’s seat, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry, a rearview camera, a six-speaker DC sound system with aux-in port, Bluetooth hands-free calling and streaming audio, satellite radio, the NissanConnect mobile apps system, an Easy Fill tire alert system (which uses the horn to signal the correct pressure range), intermittent wipers, a rear wiper, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

SV model builds on that with front power seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote start, a navigation system, fog lamps, and roof rails. SV and above also get an upgraded infotainment system with a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen, voice recognition for navigation and audio, and SiriusXM Travel Link services for fuel prices, weather, movie listings, stock information, and sports scores.

The SL adds leather seats, driver’s seat memory, heated front seats, heated mirrors, Bose premium audio with two subwoofers and 11 speakers, blind-spot monitoring, and surround-view camera system.

While the S and SV hold their own against the mainstream Ford Edge, it’s the top-of-the-line Platinum that makes an interesting proposition against the Lexus RX 350—if you don’t put too much importance on driving a luxury-brand vehicle, that is.

The Murano Platinum comes with climate-controlled (heated and cooled) front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel with power adjustment and memory, power-folding second-row seats, LED headlamps, and 20-inch alloy wheels. Although the Platinum piles on the features, one thing is sorely missing in our opinion: power tilt/height adjustment (or any additional adjustment) for the front passenger seat, which even in this top-of-the-line trim only slides fore and aft or reclines.

On the Murano S you can opt for a Navigation Package that brings that larger display and all the infotainment upgrades of the other models. SV models can be equipped with a Premium Package that adds the moonroof and Bose audio, while SL and Platinum models can add a Technology Package that features a moonroof, adaptive cruise control, and two valuable active-safety items: forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking.

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6

2016 Nissan Murano

Fuel Economy

No green powertrain is offered, but the Murano is fairly efficient compared to gasoline-powered rivals.

The 2016 Nissan Murano isn't offered in hybrid or diesel variants, but against rival standard gasoline crossovers—especially rival V-6 models—its fuel economy is competitive.

While the all-wheel drive system introduces a bit more driveline drag, the difference versus the front-wheel drive version is less than 1 mpg (a rounding difference that leaves them with the same EPA rating). No matter which model in the lineup you choose, it gets official ratings of 21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined.

We saw plenty of evidence that real-world driving will return numbers in that range. In a 120-mile loop with a Murano SV AWD, with two different drivers piloting, we averaged nearly 24 mpg in a widely varied mix of road types and driving conditions.

Nissan has finessed the Murano's aerodynamics to improve its highway fuel economy numbers. It cuts a sharper hole through the air with a coefficient of drag of 0.31. Elements that help the Murano cut through the air are low rocker panels (actually helping in ruggedness and underbody protection as well), an active grille shutter system, fender lip moldings, and details in back that include bumper surfacing, tire deflectors, and an integrated rear spoiler.

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January 23, 2017
2016 Nissan Murano AWD 4-Door SV

Stylish and fun. Well made car

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Cons: -noisier than my 2003 tundra. Figured it would have less road noise from reviews I read. It's ok but not quietest SUV I have been in. -speakers shot after 1/2 year warranty replacing but seems quick... + More »
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March 16, 2016
2016 Nissan Murano AWD 4-Door Platinum

Amazing to look at, you can't wait to jump in a drive her

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The zero gravity seats sell the Murano. Amazing comfort but a little disappointed in the steering. This vehicle is perfect for the wife and I. Highly recommended!
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October 23, 2015
2016 Nissan Murano FWD 4-Door Platinum

Awesomeness Murano

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I simply love my Murano for its looks, safety and reliability. Truly an SUV that is the Neighbours Envy and Owners Pride!!!
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October 21, 2015
2016 Nissan Murano AWD 4-Door Platinum Hybrid

not as I expected

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Looks great, feels great, but s to safety features it lacks a lot, no auto dim door mirrors for platinum models, manual change radio stations, have to lean a lot to get to button, on steering only changes... + More »
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