By Jonathan Pitman
Since the inception of the Nissan Murano in 2003, it has captivated the hearts of many consumers with its top of the line performance and luxury that continues today. Despite the changes, most of which have been subtle, the designers at Nissan made sure they did everything they could to preserve this classy gem.
Let’s talk performance. The Murano LE AWD uses the same legendary VQ engine as the Nissan Maxima. However, the Maxima has more horsepower than the Murano. It would be interesting to see how the Murano would have performed if it had 290 horsepower instead of the 265 HP that is currently in place. For this test car, the acceleration was slower than expected. It clocked a 0-60 time in 9 Seconds. I was expecting better. Despite the slow off the line acceleration, it was still decent enough to pass slow cars and merging into traffic on the highway. Of course, the Nissan Murano is equipped with the CVT transmission, which offers seamless shiftless acceleration. Most car manufactures still have not figured out how to incorporate both fuel economy and performance. But it appears that Nissan is catching on with the 3.5 Liter engine, which is expected to earn a reasonable 23 MPG highway and boast 475 miles on a single tank of gas before refueling.
Government tests show that the Murano also earned some respectable ratings in crash tests. For frontal crashes, the Murano received 4 stars for the driver and 4 stars for the passenger. For the side crash, the front seat received a 5 star rating as well as a 5 star rating for the rear seat – the highest ratings that can be awarded. Also, consumers will be pleased that this vehicle attained 4 stars for the rollover test. Although not the top rating for this category, it is still impressive. Speaking of safety, the test car came equipped with 6 standard airbags, therefore, keeping the occupants well protected in the event of an accident. For added safety, the Murano comes with a rear back up camera that gives the driver an extra eye. The location of the camera is conveniently placed on the navigation screen. Anti-lock brakes are also standard on the Murano LE AWD.
Overall, the test car was nice and smooth thanks to the 4-wheel independent suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars that help enhance this comfortable ride. However, there were some problems that need to be addressed, that were clearly noticeable. For one thing, for a vehicle that cost almost $40,000 there was lots of wind noise, which could be noticed throughout the cabin at cruising speeds and while on the highway. Another thing I noticed was the brakes. The four wheel power ventilated disc brakes were very rough. It was so rough that it made the steering wheel vibrate when applying brake pressure. Aside from that, the braking was okay and stopped the vehicle within a respectable distance. The steering was very responsive. The handling was also good and maneuvered well around traffic and in normal driving situations.
Another thing worth noting is the bold aerodynamic styling on the exterior. Its fine lines give it an aggressive look that might appeal to consumers. The headlights wrap around the hood and are uniquely placed for added appeal. The rear of the vehicle is just as impressive as the front with bright LED rear taillights that help other vehicles to identify the Murano in foggy conditions or in low visibility. Also, the rear liftgate closes and opens automatically with the push of a button that alerts you with a beep when the liftgate closes and opens to avoid accidents. Other features on the exterior include 20-inch alloy wheel with titanium finish, dual exhaust, heated mirrors, Xenon headlights, privacy glass for the rear windows, and rain sensing wipers.
On the interior, consumers will notice the attention to detail. Everything on the dash was placed with the consumer in mind. From the gauges to the storage compartments, the design was well thought out. Speaking of gauges, they are big and easy to read. The touch screen navigation is also easy to operate. The sound quality from the radio was also impressive. The leather seats were very supportive and comfortable. There was ample room in the rear for passengers, including head room and legroom. Other features include heated front and rear seats, 8-way power adjustable driver seat, leather wrapped steering wheel with volume controls, push button start, Bose Audio system with 9-speakers and dual subwoofer, Bluetooth technology, dual panel moonroof, and more.
This vehicle overall offers plenty of incentives and features that make this Murano unique. It is an ideal road trip vehicle, and a great family SUV. Although, the price of the Murano may be out of reach for the average family, I believe it could be an excellent investment for the long run.