Front end of the 2015 Murano. Pretty, no, distinctive, wow
| Car tested
||Nissan Murano SL
| Body style
||Four-door crossover vehicle
||3.5L-V6 (260 horsepower)
||Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
| Price range
||$29,998 (front-wheel drive S) to $43,498 (all-wheel drive Platinum)
| Price as tested
||$39,398 (SL all-wheel drive)
Dramatic and very busy side profile of the Murano
The first-generation Murano went on sale for 2003, the second for 2009 and this new third-generation Murano has been available since the spring of 2015. Like its predecessors, this new Murano is based on the same component set that underpins the Nissan Altima. Competition Competition includes other five-seat crossovers like the Ford Edge, the lower-end versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, high-end versions of the Cherokee, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and also the more basic versions of the Lexus RX 350. Performance “What a tank” was the nearly universal first reaction of those who took the wheel of our 1804 kilogram (3977 pounds) 2015 Murano test vehicle. However, this initial impression of extreme mass quickly dissipates as drivers become more familiar with the Murano.
While not as smooth as Kia’s 3.3L, Honda’s 3.5L or GM’s 3.6L, Nissan’s 3.5L V6 moves the Murano with authority and unless heavily prodded, works quietly enough in this application; operating at very low revs due to the well-calibrated CVT transmission.
The steering is pleasantly weighted, nicely geared, transmits just a hint of road feel through the steering wheel and delivers good directional stability on the highway. The Murano’s carefully-honed suspension combines steady, predictable responses with a compliant ride that is very welcome in a plush family hauler. The Murano’s brakes stop the car well enough but greater initial response, a firmer pedal, and less pedal travel would improve driver confidence, especially in stop-and-go driving.
Road noise is nicely suppressed as is wind noise, despite the dual panel sunroof, which was an irritating noise source on the previous Murano.
The view over the Murano’s multi-plane hood is unusual, but not particularly obstructed. The so-called “floating” roof of the new Murano visually continues the glazing outside but all the driver sees inside is a blind spot created by the cabin trim panel. The APA's SL test model was equipped with Nissan’s multi-view system which features a bird’s-eye-view camera that projects the vehicle and its surroundings to make this behemoth easy to place in tight spaces.
A mix of urban crawl, wide-open suburban and highway use generated an overall fuel economy figure of 12.8 L/100 km, which compares unfavourably with the 9.8L/100 km combined figure published by the U.S. Department of Energy for the 2015 Murano with all-wheel drive, but compares favourably with other vehicles of this type. Interior Drivers face crisp, clear main gauges that are separated by a configurable electronic display of impressive clarity. The centre of the elegant dashboard is dominated by a large touch screen, the bottom of which contains logical tabs for functions such as audio and navigation. The climate controls are independent of the touch screen and are easy to fathom. Despite the variety of functions they operate, the controls are straightforward.
The cabin displays unusual shapes and in the case of our Murano’s black cabin, unique faux wood accents that look they have been finished in an unusual, but attractive aluminum-hued stain. The Murano’s interior contains copious soft-touch trim surfaces, attractive carpeting and soft leather.
The front seats are exceptionally comfortable and those in the rear are substantial and supportive. Both front and rear passengers enjoy ample legroom. Cargo space is generous front to rear and side to side, but like the last Murano, vertical height is a bit limited if luggage needs to fit under the cargo cover.
The lowest temperature setting on the climate control system was 18 degrees Centigrade, with no “cold” setting or no ability to bring in cool ambient outside air into the car when the air conditioning compressor is not in use. Some owners may not be able to get the Murano’s cabin cool enough for comfort in summer.
The Bluetooth system paired to cellphones easily and the Murano’s audio system is easily tailored to a driver’s taste and delivers crisp sound.
The squeaks and rattles from the interior trim that have afflicted some of Nissan’s cheaper cars, were blissfully absent in the Murano.
Crisp graphics of centre display link the big, clear main gauges
Dashboard is textbook modern Nissan
Despite a multitude of functions, the dash centre stack is quite easy to fathom. 18 centrigrade is as cool as it is going to get inside the Murano unless you open the windows on a cool day.
Supportive rear seat combines with good legroom to pamper passengers. Door-mounted trim panel that looks like aluminum-stained wood, is quite distinctive.
Cargo space is wide, long and luxuriously finished, but not that tall below the cargo cover
Cargo area with 60 percent of the 60/40 rear seat folded flat
All-wheel-drive, standard on the SL and Platinum trims, is a $2000 option on the SV and not offered on the base S. SV and SL trim upgrades are good value. Overpriced Platinum option group. Very good value leasing. The base S is equipped well enough that it is a viable choice buyers who want a quasi-prestige CUV for a reasonable price.
The Murano Platinum is priced roughly $3000 more that a similarly-equipped Jeep Cherokee or Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Limited. The Jeep has smooth V6 power like the Murano; the Hyundai’s 2L turbo four is fast but lacks the creamy delivery of the V6 engines. Acura’s RDX Elite is priced roughly $2500 more than the Murano Platinum, lacks the Murano’s avant-garde exterior styling and cabin but does have a four year/80,000 km basic warranty compared with the three year/60,000 warranty on the Nissan.
Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, with five years/100,000 km on the powertrain. The previous Murano was rated average overall, with cautions regarding timing chain failures if oil changes are neglected and the durability of the CVT if the vehicle is used for towing. Owners of smaller Nissans have had to contend with premature component failures and hefty repair bills on their cars, but the bigger Nissans appear to be more durable.
The Murano was rated four out of a possible five stars in the NHTSA tests conducted by the U.S. Government and was rated Good in all five categories, including the tough, new small side impact test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Blind spot, rear cross traffic and moving object detection are fitted on the SL trim level; with intelligent cruise control and predictive forward collision warning with auto braking added to the range-topping Platinum model.
Massive and distinctive rear lights on the 2015 Murano
Like the new Rogue that debuted for 2014, the redesigned Murano appears to be a fully-developed product, which may be an indication that the underwhelming Altima, Sentra and Note were part of a transitory corporate malaise that has passed.
As a large, six-cylinder, five-seat crossover, the Murano is part of a diminishing vehicle category, as most V6 engine vehicles in its class now offer third-row seating as a matter of course. While the Murano is quicker and more refined than the compact CUVs such as the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, in terms of outright passenger and cargo space, it represents a marginal extra measure of utility than the more frugal (in price and fuel consumption) four-cylinder, five-seat CUVs.