Nissan’s Murano stands out as offering one of the most stylish, best-trimmed, and best-appointed interiors from a non-luxury brand, with warm, soft-touch materials and color choices than make some other mainstream-brand crossover models seem drab. The Murano’s powertrain, while not overtly sporty, is one of the smoothest and strongest in the segment-great for getting ahead at stoplights and making safe, quick passes on the highway. Ride quality is pretty impressive, especially with the standard 18-inch wheels– it feels comfortable without being too floaty. This equates to confident handling without fatigue on longer drives.
The Murano lineup is now offered in four different trims-S, SV, SL and LE. While each of the models are offered in a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, they’re all powered by the same 260-horsepower, 3.5L V6 engine connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Altogether, the powertrain is smooth and responsive, and the all-wheel drive system isn’t configured so much for off-roading as it is intended to improve traction and stability on slippery roads. Ride and handling in the Murano is more oriented toward family use on streets and boulevards rather than rutted trails. The 4-wheel independent suspension includes large front and rear stabilizer bars and allows an absorbent ride with crisp handling. The speed-sensitive power-steering system–much like the one used in the Nissan Maxima sport sedan-has a nice weighting and the right amount of feedback from the road. Inside, the Murano has a stylish look, including luxury-caliber surfaces and trims, available double-stitched leather upholstery and a warmer, softer look than is found in most mid-size crossovers. The cabin includes a dual-level center console, huge glove compartment, various storage pockets and an ample number of cupholders. There’s enough space for three in back, and the split-folding seats flip to a nearly flat floor quite easily.
The Murano S lands at the affordable end of the lineup and includes power windows and locks, keyless entry, a 6-speaker audio system, push-button start and an iPod interface. The SL adds Bluetooth hands-free, a rear-view monitor, roof rails and privacy glass, while the SL brings a power rear seatback return, a power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery, heated seats and mirrors, a garage-door opener and Bose premium audio with 2GB of audio storage. Top LE models get silver-accented roof rails, 20-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, HID bi-xenon headlamps plus a power-adjustable steering wheel with memory setting, woodgrain interior trim and heated rear seats. Options at the top of the line are limited to a Navigation Package that brings a touch-screen navigation system and 9.3GB of music storage, plus Bluetooth streaming audio and voice recognition. The CrossCabriolet, essentially a 2-door Murano convertible, will only be offered in a single trim. It includes space enough in back for two adults but the trunk, at about 8 cubic feet, is significantly smaller than that of the standard Murano.