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.
Engine: 3.5L V6 With 260 hp, 240 kb-ft of torque
Fuel Economy: 21 MPG City, 28 MPG Highway, 24 MPG Average
Fuel Economy (Canada): 9.8 l/100 km (FWD), 9.9 l/100 km (AWD) Average
Price: $30,445 to $41,485 including delivery
Price (Canada): $31,748 to $45,248 including delivery
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.