2013 Nissan Murano Review

Questionable quality and a bad bargain

2013 Nissan Murano Review
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While the Murano doesn’t qualify as small now, it looked almost infantile next to the normal body-on-frame SUV that roamed the streets when it launched. It also stood out because it wasn’t shaped like the others.

FAST FACTS

1. Priced from $31,295 the top-trim Murano LE can slip above $43,000.

2. EPA estimated fuel economy returns are 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models, and 18/23 mpg for AWD.

3. Nissan’s 3.5-liter V6 makes 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque.

4. Nissan added blind spot monitoring, moving object detection and lane departure warning for 2013.

Now well into its life, the Murano has remained much the same while many other vehicles have borrowed a leaf or two from Nissan’s book.

NEW SAFETY TECH MAKES MURANO MORE MODERN

 

Little changed this year with the Murano, but what did will make a big difference to its target audience. It gets a host of available safety technology features that help to mitigate its poor visibility while putting it more in line with other modern luxury-ish family vehicles.

Those features include moving object detection, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning. Any seasoned driver worth their license will tell you blind spots are about as real as unicorns, but the Murano’s funky shape still means seeing out can be a task of its own.

Whether you believe in blind spots or not, the little warning light is helpful to have.

SILKY SMOOTH V6

2013 Murano 025

Nissan takes a one-size-fits-all approach to powering many of its cars through its well-loved 3.5-liter V6. Tuned to a variety of uses, the engine has more than proven its worth.

Competitors to the Murano often rely on V6 engines to power their larger bodies without feeling sluggish. Those competitors also generally use automatic transmissions, but the Murano took a different tack with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the start and it’s stayed the course.

SEE ALSO: See the 2013 Nissan Murano full specs at our new car buying page

Low and behold, other automakers are following suit. CVTs are often maligned for being dull and unimpressive to drive with, but Nissan manages to mask their rubber band feeling.

2013 Murano 008Most people driving the Murano won’t even realize the difference between their car’s transmission and a traditional automatic. While the Murano likely loses some punch by skipping the slush box, its 260 hp engine is anything but a slouch.

Rated at 18/24 mpg with front-wheel drive it only sacrifices a single mile per gallon on the highway when equipped with all-wheel drive. Looking at those numbers the CVT decision becomes questionable as both the Venza and Crosstour offer higher digits while a turbocharged 4-cylinder Ford Edge claims up to 30 mpg on the highway. Even the larger Nissan Pathfinder offers 20/26 mpg in base trim.

Still, the car lived up its estimates during AutoGuide’s weeklong test, which involved a mix of both city and highway driving.

LUXURY-ESQUE INTERIOR COULD BE BETTER

2013 Murano 020

Priced from $31,295 including delivery, the Murano can come in a variety of trim levels, all of which are equipped with the same engine and transmission. Reasonably competitive in the entry level, people looking toward the higher trim levels will find there are other, better options.

COMPARE: Read the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Review

Faux wood trim on the center console and door panel arm rests looks nice initially, but Nissan needs to focus on making them more convincing if it wants to justify the LE Platinum’s lofty price tag in the mid $40,000 range.

2013 Murano 036Similarly, the leather seat upholstery feels cheap, especially next to true luxury vehicles with richer feeling material. The seats have adjustable lumbar support, but they don’t feel as plush as a car priced this high really should.

At 36.3 inches, rear seat legroom isn’t cramped, but it won’t be claiming segment-best status either. Cargo room is solid at almost 32 cu-ft of room.

Those seats fold down quickly at the pull of a cord located at the hinge between the seat and high back, which comes in handy if you want to free up extra cargo space in a hurry.

2013 Murano 039Just like the inexpensive leather trim, the steering wheel feels disappointingly rubbery, but at least customers in cold climates can elect to have a heated unit.

As much as it feels like an awkward balance between luxury and value, the Murano still isn’t bad. The infotainment system and corresponding interface current Nissan and Infiniti vehicles get is a breeze to use.

Eight-way directional buttons are surrounded by an aluminum wheel that makes scrolling through lists and fiddling with the navigation system easy. It’s refreshing to use after so many others fail to nail the fundamentals.

HANDSOME EXTERIOR

2013 Murano 006

Previous generations looked like automotive misfits and maybe that’s just because crossovers were still a burgeoning segment. Whatever the reason, the Murano managed to find itself in its current iteration. The grille might not mesh well with everyone, but it serves to compliment the car’s HID headlights and optional LED daytime running lights. Together, they help set the car’s looks off like a pocket square in a blazer.

2013 Murano 007Nissan also offers optional 19-inch aluminum alloys with the higher trim levels that go miles in massaging out more sex appeal.

If there’s a singular complaint with the Murano’s styling it has to be that it has a little too much in common with the smaller, less powerful Rogue.

THE VERDICT

2013 Murano 010

With Nissan’s all-new Pathfinder offering more space at a better price, there’s little reason to recommend the Murano as a value option. Likewise at higher trim levels, where it’s hard not to look at the Murano as a big waste of money when a couple thousand more will put you in a comparably equipped all-wheel drive Lexus RX350.

LOVE IT
  • V6 is powerful enough to please
  • New safety features add peace of mind
  • Fast-folding rear seats
LEAVE IT
  • Faux wood feels cheap
  • Pricey
  • Fuel economy
  • Pathfinder is bigger and cheaper

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  • RobH

    The MSRP of a Murano isn’t the full picture price-wise on this car. They don’t sell well for some reason, and like a lot of Nissan’s are heavily discounted. You can easily get anywhere from 4-8k knocked off the sticker.

    I own a 2010 LE. After 30k miles, not one repair. The interior is striking similiar to an Infiniti and the build quality (made in Japan) is just as good.

  • Johan

    Strikingly similar to an Infiniti? In what way? The stereo controls are, but otherwise it’s night-and-day different. Infiniti interiors feel GOOD. Nissan interiors feel CHEAP.

  • RobH

    Many Nissan interiors are cheap. The Murano LE shares same control stalks, dash material, knobs, etc as the equivalent year Infiniti. But thanks for reminding me why I don’t regularly comment on these sort of websites – you get attacked by YOBS trying to defend their foolish purchases

  • faz

    “Questionable Quality”? Why would you put that in the headline and that not mention one complaint about quality issues in the article. Seems a bit unfair. I own a 2011 Murano and it has been problem free, plus fit and finish is excellent. No major issues posted in Consumer Reports either. The value issue I do agree with, especially since the new Pathfinder came out. I don’t understand Nissan’s pricing structure. The Pathfinder is bigger, gets better fuel mileage, and has a lower starting MSRP than the Murano. That makes zero sense. Maybe when the totally redesigned Murano comes out they will fix the pricing. If I was in the market now it’s pretty hard to justify buying a Murano over a Pathfinder. However in 2011 I was cross shopping against the Ford Edge and am very confident I picked the far superior vehicle.

  • GJV

    You’ve obviously not spent much time in the G37. In many ways I find its interior to be cheaper feeling that the Murano.

  • Stipe

    Just for the record – I am proud owner of 2009 SL AWD Murano and after 67500 miles have no single repair or complaint. For me was fantastic value for the money (paid $28’000 new with premium sound pack). Still in LOVE and I am keeping it to his last breath….

  • Darren H

    Questionable quality? I didn’t read that in the review. Mine has great quality.

  • Richard H

    I paid $23k brand new for a 2009 Murano S AWD. 4 years on and the only problem has been a faulty gas cap that set the CEL, replaced under warranty. One of the smoothest quietest most comfortable cars I’ve ever driven. Sure it doesn’t drive like a sports car, the steering is a bit overboosted and numb, the handling is adequate but uninspiring, the CVT can be a bit slow to respond to throttle input. If you want something sharper go buy a GTR not a family crossover. Questionable quality? Everything on the car still works and looks brand new and outside of the gas cap has required nothing other than normal maintenance. Bad bargain? See first sentence and find me a brand new crossover that offers more value for less money.