Is it just another SUV?
Well, we do not have many options in this class. Surprising, isn’t it? Compared to the other SUV subsegments, we don’t have many 2-row mid-sized SUVs. Also, 3-row SUVs are not for everyone, in fact we also think a minivan would be better option if you usually have more than 5 passengers. This is where the Nissan Murano fills the gap in a very popular segment. Murano has been on the Canadian market since 2002, and the last generation is available since 2015. It has been slightly refreshed in 2019. We will have a look how well Murano is doing in this segment.
Exterior and Interior
Unless you look for “exotic segments”, you should not expect a sexy design from an SUV. They are family haulers and function are more important than the form. However, especially after the refresh, Nissan is one of the better-looking ones in this segment, though it is a hate or love design. V shaped grille, LED head lights, fog lights, tail lights, new wheels make it look fresh. It shows its age a little bit more in the interior.
Speaking about the interior, there are lots of soft touch plastics, leather, some fake wood, and some piano black all around the dashboard. Our tester, at the top Platinum version, comes with all features available. Unlike the Pathfinder, Nissan implemented Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in Murano, which is a big plus. Infotainment system is not laggy at all, though it looks a little bit dull. Overall, interior and feature-wise, we are impressed that 4-year-old platform can still keep up with the competition.
In our tests, legroom in the front and rear is excellent, more than enough for tall people. However, as a result of having a distinctive design, Murano has less total cargo capacity compared to its little sister, called Rogue.
Engine and Drivetrain
Murano comes with only one engine and transmission combination, which is an old but reliable platform. A naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. It is the same engine used in Pathfinder, but a little bit less power. It is a rev happy but extremely smooth engine which provides lots of mid-range torque and offers great daily driving characteristics. While more manufacturers switch to four-cylinder turbocharged options, Nissan decided to stick with V6. In our tests, Murano consumed 11.0L / 100 km and this number is not too bad, considering it’s weight and all-wheel drive system.
As a familiar feature for Nissan and some other Japanese brands, Murano comes with Continuously Variable Transmission which helps providing smooth driving characteristics ²as well. However, that means Murano has less towing capacity than most of the competition as a result, which is 1500 lbs. Unlike the Pathfinder, though they use same drivetrain, Murano has manual shifting option which is the gear ratios are extremely tall. If you stay in the first gear, it goes all the way up to 100 km/h before switching to the second gear. Also, due to its weight, which is over 1800 kgs, Murano can do 0-100 in 8 seconds, which is not that impressive. So, it is obvious that the drivetrain is 100% tuned for road comfort and smoothness.
Murano comes with both Front Wheel Drive and All Wheel Drive
options. FWD is only available with the absolute base trim, which actually
doesn’t make sense to get an SUV if you don’t need All Wheel Drive. Anything
above the base trim comes with AWD and it is a typical Nissan on-demand All
Wheel Drive system. It is a Front biased system that activates rear wheels when
there is insufficient traction in the front. It uses rear wheels up to 50%
during acceleration, then it transfers almost all power to the front wheels. Unfortunately,
Murano wouldn’t allow its driver to turn off stability control completely,
which means it is not that off-road capable, or at least not as capable as the
Pathfinder with center locking differential. It is definitely more than enough
for paved roads, but we wouldn’t take it to any kind of off-roading as CVT is
also not the most durable transmission type for severe conditions.
Features and Pricing
As previously mentioned, our tester had all the options available in Murano, in fact it has even more features compared to its bigger sister, Pathfinder. The middle trim, called SV comes with many features and it is a nice step up from the base trim. It comes with Panoramic Moonroof, Remote Engine Start System with Automatic climate control, and Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection. If you choose one step above, called SL, it comes with Leather seats, 20” wheels (which looks best among the other trims), front & rear parking sensors, and Bose premium audio system.
Our test car is the Platinum trim, which comes with another type of 20” rims, Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking system, Heated & Cooled seats, and Semi anline leather seats with diamond quilted inserts. Overall, we think the SL trim is the sweet spot as it comes with many critical features, unless you need additional cooled seat option.
Overall, we enjoyed driving the Murano, not because of its driving characteristics, but its driving comfort. Nissan is known to build very comfortable vehicles and Murano is no exception. There are few naturally aspirated V6 and 2-row SUVs left in this class, which makes the Murano a unicorn. This V6 and CVT transmission offers excellent driving comfort and smoothness. This is a great option if you need a family hauler that is all wheel drive, lots of interior space, great functionality, smooth and comfortable ride.
Murano starts at $32,898 with the base trim and front wheel drive, and it can go all the way up to $46,398 as of February 2020. We believe the SL trim offers the best price performance ratio, which is priced $43,698. Considering this generation is getting old, we are sure you would be able to find a great deal at Nissan dealer, which makes it even better option in this class.
For more and most up-to-date information, please visit http://www.nissan.ca.
Article and photos by Dan Gunay