Saturday Road Test – Nissan Murano

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Nissan Murano SL AWD

Upscale Crossover

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD – It has always been a pleasure to get behind the wheel of this midsize crossover, especially if you are faced with a long road trip and a need to carry lots of stuff to the weekend ski lodge.

The test Murano simply gobbled up interstate miles, in fact western Maryland and parts of eastern West Virginia have seldom seemed so close. Along the way it turned a few heads.

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That’s because of what Nissan calls a “highly sculptural, highly emotional design…” so the Murano doesn’t look anything like its competition. It slips through the air thanks to three times the normal wind tunnel testing to get a coefficient of drag of 0.31, equal to some sports cars, Nissan claims.  And in case you were wondering, those are “boomerang headlights” in front. I give the design two thumbs up.

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Slide inside and enjoy the marvelous NASA inspired Zero Gravity seats for both front and rear outboard passengers. Easily one of the most comfortable seats I’ve experienced. On the road the interior was quiet and the suspension, while on the soft side, handles all but the worst bumps with aplomb. Handling was on a par with similar vehicles, but one doesn’t buy a crossover to keep up with a Ferrari on back roads and there was little driver feedback.

The nearly top of the line SL crossover featured an outstanding 9-speaker BOSE premium audio system, and 8” inch multi-Touch Center display, voice recognition for navigation and audio, a 7” information display on the instrument panel, automatic temperature control, and one major option package.

For $2,260 the “Technology Package” added a panoramic Moonroof that opens the sky to rear seat passengers, plus intelligent cruise control, forward collision warning and emergency braking. With all but the front seats folded there is nearly 70 cubic feet of storage and that tops the Grand Cherokee and Touareg. Materials were upscale and there were lots of soft touch surfaces.

The only available engine is a responsive 3.5-liter V6 rated at 260 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm with 240 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm. The six is married to a CVT and the test Murano came with All Wheel Drive. Front drive is also available.

With gas below $2 a gallon in many states, fuel economy may not be one of your major concerns. The test Murano is EPA rated at 21 highway and 18 mpg city for a combined 24 mpg. In my week long test I checked in at 23.

Mash the go pedal and a standstill run to 60 comes up in about 7.5 seconds. The CVT was a notch or two better than the norm but I still would prefer a more common six speed, you know the kind with real gears.

At 192.4 inches long, the Murano is the same size as a BMW X5. The 2015 and 2016 models are for all intents and purposes identical.

There are S, SV, SL, and Platinum models, and each is available with AWD. Check the box for the SL and you get heated outside mirrors, driver’s seat memory settings, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert, heated and leather clad upholstery, plus a helpful 360 degree parking camera system.

With $885 for delivery added in, the SL carried an MSRP of $41,905 for what really was an entry level luxury crossover that will meet the needs of a four or five member family.

It is easy to see why Murano sales increased 62 percent last month and set a December record. I would recommend it to all crossover shoppers.

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