- Dramatic exterior styling
- Superb ride quality
- Silent cabin
- Classy interior design
- Safety tech should be available on S, SV
- Passenger seat lacks height adjustment
- Ride harshness with 20-inch wheels
- Value proposition not as impressive on SL, Platinum
The 2017 Nissan Murano is smooth and polished—and that may be just the ticket for buyers who want a high seating position and the availability of all-wheel drive.
The 2017 Nissan Murano is a five-seat crossover that sort of defies convention. Instead of following its rivals by trying to appeal to growing families or those intent on at least looking the off-road part, the Murano is plush and comfortable, something of a more palatable luxury crossover.
We rate it a 6.3 out of 10, praising it for its gentle ride and high style but dinging it for some dynamic and safety gaffes. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Murano remains essentially unchanged for 2017, available in S, SV, SL, and Platinum trim levels. Only Apple CarPlay availability and some minor option package shuffling set it apart from last year.
2017 Nissan Murano styling and performance
Nissan designers aimed to counter the heavy, chunky look of traditional sport-utility vehicles with the Murano when this nameplate first arrived almost 15 years ago. The latest model is the third generation and it continues to succeed as what's definitely one of the most contemporary crossovers on the market.
With a wide V-shaped grille, boomerang-style headlights, and a floating roof with blacked out pillars, the Murano looks like no other crossover on the market. Its detailing is 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, the Murano isn't nearly as daring, but it is still grander and swoopier than you'll find in anything short of a full-on luxury nameplate. That said, there's a degree of simplicity to the Murano's control interfaces that are clean and well-conceived, with physical buttons where they make the most sense.
Although the exterior is as extroverted as can be, it doesn’t cut into interior space and usability for five passengers and their cargo. 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. Nissan's "Zero Gravity" seats, inspired by NASA tech, are contoured and comfortable over long drives.
The Murano's expressive exterior may hint at an engaging and emotional driving experience, but a few minutes behind the wheel reveals that's definitely not the case. Nissan targets empty nesters with this crossover, as it hopes to woo younger, more family-oriented buyers into its Pathfinder and Rogue. As a result, ride quality and cabin quietness take priority.
A 3.5-liter, 260-horsepower V-6 comes standard, and it's paired to either front- or all-wheel drive. There's no fancy sport mode, tow mode, or off road mode here; instead, the Murano is about set it and forget it, and it works well for the most part by delivering what matters to its target buyer: strong, confident, refined performance, all without sacrificing too much comfort along the way.
Nissan Murano quality, safety, and features
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 luxury badge cachet and dealership experience, 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.
The Murano fared exceptionally well in the IIHS' rigorous testing, rating a Top Safety Pick with the optional automatic emergency braking on SL and Platinum models. However, the NHTSA gives the Murano four out of five overall stars, dinging it for frontal collision and rollover resistance.
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.
2017 Nissan Murano
Credit the Murano for its distinctive exterior and soothing interior.
Eschewing convention, the Nissan Murano is designed to counter the heavy and chunky look of most SUVs and crossovers. They've succeeded with a vehicle that almost looks like a show car rather than one you're likely to see on a regular street.
And that's no surprise, since the Murano looks rather like the Resonance concept car the automaker displayed at the Detroit auto show all the way back in 2013. It's not often that an automaker is willing to put its designs out there quite like this, which is why we've scored the Murano an 8, with two extra points for exterior style. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
It's not quite as flashy inside, by any means, but the Murano's interior is simple and clean and especially well organized.
But let's talk more about that exterior. 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, as Mini and Kia have employed it and even Nissan uses it on its 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. Up front, the Murano's grille features diagonals flaring outward from the leading edge of the bumper and the company's belt buckle-sized logo.
All variants of the Murano look about the same, with differences between trim levels largely relegated to wheel designs.
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.
2017 Nissan Murano
Not nearly as sporty as it purports to be, the Murano does provide a comfortable and quiet ride.
With its dashing looks, you might expect the Nissan Murano to be a corner carver.
Well, its ride is soft and its manners rather more in line with its hefty curb weight, which is why it scores a 6 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Nissan says its target buyer is interested in a plush ride and predictable handling. To that end, they've succeeded. Car-like underpinnings utilizing front struts and a rear multi-link setup damp out the worst pavement you can throw at it.
The electrohydraulic rack-and-pinion steering delivers a good, relaxed feel on center, and it loads up nicely in curves despite not delivering much in terms of communication. The suspension makes some definite sacrifices in ultimate handling ability, leaning more in corners than even the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but the net result is a composed and relaxed feel that certainly doesn't encourage aggressive driving. Opt for the Platinum with its 20-inch wheels and there's some more choppiness to the Murano's ride quality, however.
Four-wheel vented disc brakes deliver confident and well-modulated braking.
Both front- and all-wheel drive configurations are available on all trim levels. Don't look for the all-wheel-drive system to do much more than add traction on wet and slushy terrain as it definitely isn't intended for any off-roading beyond a dirt road.
The Murano's V-6 engine is a familiar Nissan unit 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).
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 during gentle acceleration the gearbox instead keeps the engine in a low rev range.
Excellent sound deadening has muffled this engine, which sounded more gruff in the last generation Murano than it does here.
2017 Nissan Murano
Comfort & Quality
The Murano's seats are comfortable and its cabin serene.
Here's another case of where the Murano's outlandish exterior doesn't quite translate into a show car interior. But for real world use, that's just fine indeed, as this crossover's inner trappings are laid out nicely and feel high quality even at the lowest end of the spectrum.
The Murano definitely isn't a full-on luxury car, but it comes close with nice materials and comfortable seats for four or even five passengers. We give it an extra point for back-seat comfort and another for its cargo utility, netting it a 7 out 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
We’re conflicted about the Murano's seats, for which Nissan uses the term "Zero Gravity." Inspired by a NASA-measured "neutral posture," they’re designed to reduce fatigue during long drives by providing a more articulated level of support from the pelvis to the chest, through the lumbar area especially. The issue we have with them is that the lower cushions don't deliver the kind of thigh support that tall drivers may find necessary. The Edge and Grand Cherokee deliver better comfort here.
Suede-like cloth covers the thrones in the S and SV and we prefer it to the perforated leather used in the SL and Platinum, which doesn't feel as high-zoot as those models' price tags may suggest.
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 low-set dash allows shorter drivers to feel comfortable, while there’s plenty of head room above, even for tall drivers with the available moonroof. The center console has dual elbow rests, making it look like it might have a dual-lidded design, like some luxury vehicles. But there's one large lid paired with useful lower storage bins in 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 crossover. These cushioned 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 row. Thanks to the generous sculpting of the rear outboard seats, the middle spot is decidedly less comfortable. If you're a family of five, consider other rivals.
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. It's not necessarily as large as that in, say, a comparable five-seat SUV like the Ford Edge.
2017 Nissan Murano
The NHTSA and the IIHS don't quite agree on the Murano's crashworthiness.
The Nissan Murano comes standard with the expected safety equipment, but a hefty walk up to automatic emergency braking and a four-star overall score by the federal government prevent it from scoring higher than 5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
For 2017, Nissan has made blind-spot monitors and a rear cross-traffic alert system available on the Murano SV as part of the extra-cost Driver Assistance Package. But you'll have to step up to the SL or Platinum for automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, which is bundled with a panoramic moonroof on those models. That's unfortunate since an increasingly large number of rivals have democratized automatic emergency braking.
All 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.
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 gives the crossover four stars for frontal impact and rollover—but five for side impact. Overall, the NHTSA says this vehicle rates four stars.
2017 Nissan Murano
Even base Muranos are available with tech like navigation.
The 2017 Nissan Murano might be sold alongside humble Nissan Versas, but in full-tilt Platinum model, it feels just about like a proper luxury car. Even the base S is well-equipped, however, and for that we rate it a 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
There are four trim levels on offer and each has at least one additional package that can be added on. But that's it for customization, meaning that once you've narrowed down your price and feature point, all you have to do is select a color. Some buyers might appreciate that relative simplicity, but we like a higher degree of customization.
The Murano S is nicely-equipped with automatic dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, Bluetooth hands-free calling and streaming audio, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels. A single option package that's new for 2017 adds navigation with Apple CarPlay.
The SV adds power-adjustable front seats, leather around the steering wheel, fog lamps, and navigation. It's rare to see such a low trim level of just about any vehicle include navigation. The SV's optional Premium Package bundles a Bose audio system and a power moonroof with heated cloth seats up front. A Driver Assistance Package is new for 2017 and brings with it the automaker's nice surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts.
From there, the SL adds leather seats, driver’s seat memory, heated front seats, heated mirrors, Bose speakers, blind-spot monitors, and the surround-view camera system. Its one option package, the Technology group, bundles a moonroof with adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.
The range-topping Platinum builds on the SL 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 headlights, 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.
The same Technology package on the SL is available on the Platinum as well. A Midnight Edition appearance package is a late introduction that includes special wheels on the Platinum model.
2017 Nissan Murano
For its size and weight, the Murano is about average.
Unusually, there's no fuel economy penalty for opting for all-wheel drive over the Murano's standard front-wheel drive.
All models come in with an acceptable 21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined, which is about par for the class and enough to earn a 5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The all-wheel-drive system adds about 50 pounds to the Murano and it sends power almost exclusively to the front wheels unless slip is detected, which helps account for its similar fuel economy showing.