2015 Nissan Murano Review

Murano Regains Stylish Edge

2015 Nissan Murano Review

Right foot buried deep into the gas pedal with the thrum of Nissan’s 3.5-liter V6 in my ears, it became clear that nothing I could do would make my time with the Murano thrilling.

It isn’t supposed to be and it’s refreshing to see Nissan focusing on improving the areas that really count: comfort, style, fuel economy and cargo space. Besides, a Murano NISMO would probably be the only thing sillier than the regrettable Crosscabriolet, but that’s beside the point.

Exterior Style

This is the third go-around for the Murano and a vastly different automotive world than when it first arrived. In the 2003 model year, its design had a rebellious quality compared to the boxy body-on-frame SUVs people were so smitten with. But two generation later, the second-generation Murano just sort of blends in beside every other SUV with a curvy body.

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That made giving it a second thought harder and harder. Starting in 2015 the Murano re-gains some of its past panache with a body style that is strikingly similar to the Resonance concept first on display during the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.

It also defines the design direction that Nissan’s next crop of vehicles, including the upcoming Maxima, will employ.

In other words, it’s a striking vehicle again and that’s a very good thing because there really isn’t much about the Murano that is mechanically different.

Driving Dynamics

Instead, Nissan focused on sucking roughly 145 lbs out for the new generation while making it more aerodynamic to offer a 20 percent bump in fuel economy. Officially, the company claims you should expect to see 21 MPG city, 28 MPG during highway driving and 24 on average.

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The 3.5-liter V6 makes 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque, the same as it did before. Similarly, you can still buy a Murano in front- or all-wheel drive with a $1,600 surcharge for the latter.

As always with the Murano is mated exclusively to a CVT, but that isn’t a blemish on its resume anymore. Nissan’s “Xtronic” CVT does an exceptional job of mimicking the sensation of gear changes although it can be slow to adjust its ratio if you really step on the gas.

Hushed Ride

Nissan also made the Murano more hospitable to ride in by reducing the level of road noise that filters into the cabin and implementing its “Zero Gravity” seats in both the first and second rows. They make all the difference and make the Murano as comfortable to ride in as vehicles that are 10 times more expensive. It’s also quite a bit more quiet than the previous generation.

2015-Nissan-Murano-3.jpgTire roar and wind noise aren’t totally muted, but the new car does a good job of hushing unwanted sounds.

USB ports in the second row allow back seat passengers to play music from their seats rather than relying on the driver or front passenger. If you spring for the optional panoramic moonroof, the interior takes on an airy feel, but you also lose two inches of headroom in the second row.

With three rows of seats available in both the Rogue and Pathfinder, Nissan is positioning the Murano further as a premium vehicle. The company expects it to serve as an alternative to the Lexus RX and while the new generation is significantly more premium than the model it replaces, it still isn’t as luxurious as Lexus’ two-row midsize SUV. That’s because little things still feel inexpensive. For example, the covered cubby between the cup holders and center console feels light and low rent.

“S” and “SV” trims come standard with cloth seats, but “SL” and “Platinum” trimmed models are paired with leather upholstery. The center stack design is significantly simpler this time with far fewer buttons.

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Cargo space behind the second row is also significantly greater for 2015 with almost 40 cubic feet to store your stuff. In plainer terms, Nissan promises that the rearward compartment is configured to easily accommodate four large suitcases with space to space to spare.

Small flaws in the interior quality prevent the Murano from feeling like a luxury vehicle, but that’s easily forgivable because it also starts at $30,445 including delivery. “Platinum” trimmed models equipped with all-wheel drive cost $41,485, which is roughly the starting price of a Lexus RX 350.

The Verdict

The Murano makes its boldest fashion statement to date. At the same time it’s a comfortable, affordable and pleasantly premium crossover that ought to be reasonably efficient. Small flaws aside, we give it a hearty two thumbs up.

  • Santos

    Looks great and sounds like a bigger version of my cushy and comfortable to drive Altima.

  • Luke Vandezande

    Bang-on.

  • Jamal

    With the Pathfinder… why would you buy this?

  • Galaxium

    I mean the window greenhouse looks like a leaping fish…

  • Barbara Shealy

    VERY disappointed that they did not put cupholder flares in the front doors like every single other Nissan model, even the Cube and Leaf! The cupholders in the console are still in the way of elbows, etc. And the skinny little map pockets on the doors are good for just that — a map — nothing more. Everything else looks superb, though.

  • Barbara Shealy

    That’s a good question and one we are pondering. Have not driven both yet to compare as our dealership in Lexington SC does not have a 2015 Murano yet.

  • Barbara Shealy

    From the review, I’m glad to hear they’ve worked on the wind and road noise. We had a 2009 SL and now have a 2011 LE, and the road noise makes it a pain to have to turn up the radio every time we hit the interstate.

  • Matt Mann

    Nissan Murano……..an also ran and oh me too design.

  • Matt Mann

    I don’t think Nissan makes any more vehicles that are attention grabbing anymore.
    I’m not staying this to bash Nissan because I am a past and present owner of Nissan vehicles.
    I’m still hanging on to my 2006 Nissan Frontier NISMO with only 41k miles.

  • David G

    My previous 36 month lease was a fully loaded Nissan Altima 3.5 SL with Technology package. Nissan enticed me to trade in my 20,000 mile Altima early with their “Pull Ahead” program (2 months of lease payments were waived) and $2,125 in rebates on the 2015 Murano Platinum AWD with Tech package. The 3.5 liter V-6 and CVT in the 2013 Altima SL achieved an amazing 34 mpg on the highway and could get to 60 mph in under 6 seconds on 87 octane gasoline. The seats were extremely comfortable on long trips.

    The main reasons I opted to go from a loaded Altima to a loaded Murano are a higher view of the road, All-Wheel Drive for the Northeastern US Winters, heated & cooled seats, and a new Technology Package that includes a Power Panoramic Moonroof with one-touch open/close, Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), Forward Emergency Braking (FEB), and Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW). (The cost of insurance went down thanks to these safety features.)

    I didn’t realize that Nissan took the Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system out of the Technology package on the new Murano that was previously on the 2013 Altima. The Intelligent Cruise Control on the Murano more than makes up for the deleted LDW. Another nice feature on the Murano Platinum is a memory seat that automatically moves the seat back and raises the (heated) steering wheel when vehicle is turned off and the door is opened. The seat and steering wheel both return to the normal position when the door is closed and the engine is started.

    The Altima’s incredibly comfortable seats are matched by the seats in the new Murano which provide hours of stress-free driving. Naturally the heavier and taller Murano doesn’t perform as well as the lower & lighter Altima, nor does the Murano deliver as many MPG after 700 miles of mixed driving.

    The Murano Platinum feels as good as or better than the Infiniti QX50 & Lexus RX350 for 25% less money.