Crossovers, crossovers, crossovers. This term has to be the most common automotive related catchphrase of 2018. Yet the folks at Nissan have been using the term for over 15 years when the first Murano was introduced.
Engine: 3.5L V6
Output: 260 hp, 240 lb-ft of torque
Fuel Economy (MPG): 20 city, 28 highway, 23 combined
Fuel Economy (l/100kms): Not Available Yet
Starting Price (USD): $32,315
As Tested Price (USD): $46,175
Starting Price (CAD): Not Yet Available
As Tested Price (CAD): Not Yet Available
Who would have guessed that during that era of boxy and rugged SUVs, the Murano could have such staying power? But the automaker had a great formula that’s still in use today.
The Murano is the brand’s flagship crossover, featuring more technology, luxury, and style than the rest of the lineup. This shows, and if you’re looking for that near-premium experience, without jumping ship to a brand like Lexus, Acura, Audi, Mercedes or BMW it can really fit the bill.
The Murano is a sharp looking vehicle, easily surpassing the design of those dedicated luxury brands. Where the Lexus and Acura offerings are sharp and aggressive, the Murano is sleek and elegant. The head and tail lights have been redesigned, featuring a slimmer profile that leads to a tidy light-signature. The tail-lights have been smoked with a tinted look now, which gives the vehicle that nice light signature even during the daytime. The front grill is nice too, updating the brand’s V-Motion style that’s seen on the Leaf and new Altima. Unlike the Maxima, which continues the blacked out lines from the grille to the A-Pillar, the Murano has colored A-pillars but blacked out C-pillars.
There’s no denying the visual punch that Nissan lands with its color options. There are three new paint finishes, including a Deep Blue Pearl that’s typically seen on the big daddy GT-R. Joining that is a Mocha Almond Pearl, which should appeal to those brown-car fans out there, but a more captivating option is the Sunset Drift Chromaflair, a variation of orange that has unique flakes that transition from red to gold depending on the light. Nissan also updated two of the wheel designs with 18 inchers for the S and SV trims that look far less blocky than the outgoing wheels, and 20 inchers for the platinum model that looks high-tech and impressive.
See Also: 2018 Kia Sorento Review
Designed by its studio in California, the Murano is a stylish ride that doesn’t shove that fact in your face, like other luxury-oriented crossovers. The interior is also smart, with a nice blend of materials, although there are a few smoke and mirrors at play. I have no complaints about the nice, but thin feeling semi-aniline leather, although some might gripe that there is no soft, Napa leather used here, which the Kia Sorento offers. It’s the wood-tone trim, which is a bit of a miss. A car that exudes a luxury image should probably have real wood in its place. On the other hand, the diamond patterned leather stitching is quite nice.
Space is good, but not class-leading. Compare the Murano to a Ford Edge or Subaru Outback and the Murano comes up short. It doesn’t feature as much headroom, legroom or cargo space as these competitors. That’s not to say this car isn’t practical, with up to 32 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and a maximum of 67 cubes its more than enough space, just not the most, as the Outback and Edge offers a maximum of 73 cubic feet.
See Also: 2018 Subaru Outback Review and Video
The interior layout is nice and clever, with smart placement of cubbies and slots for all kinds of things. I personally like the slot on the armrest for a small tablet or phone, and it’s great that Nissan has outfitted the Murano with a normal USB port as well as a USB C port, which is more powerful. There is no wireless charging pad, but the automaker has full support and compatibility with a number of high tech systems including Amazon Alexa as well as Apple Car Play and Android Auto support. Furthermore, the vehicle features a traffic sign recognition system, a drowsy driver/attention alert system, and a back-seat reminder function, that will remind you of anything you may have put in the rear seat. Curiously, this doesn’t use a weight or airbag sensor, but just recognizes the pattern of opening and closing doors to determine if you might forget something back there. Nissan tells us they incorporated this feature after someone forgot they had a lasagna in the back seat, resulting in a stinky (or delicious cabin).
Styling is a highlight of the Murano, but beneath the skin, the car isn’t too bad. A 3.5-liter V6 engine is nestled under the hood making 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. Compare this to the 2.0-liter Ford Edge, one of the Murano’s closest competitors, and the Murano has more power, but much less torque. Like almost all Nissan crossovers, the Murano is equipped with a CVT, which is hardly sporty or engaging. You can get the vehicle with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Having tested the latter, it seems like the ideal choice, with the same fuel economy ratings as the front wheel drive model – 23 MPG combined. It’s an extra $1,600 (Canadian pricing and specs to be determined) though, so those living in areas that don’t see much weather could save some money up front.
Driving the Murano, it’s clear the automaker focused on comfort and leisure over sportiness. It’s a curious contrast to the brands Maxima, a sedan described as the 4DSC (4-Door Sports Car) and the GT-R inspired paint is the only reminder of the brand’s sporty heritage. Instead, the suspension is soft and quiet, while the steering is light and vague. You’ll appreciate the way the car sops up the road, even those riding on 20-inch wheels. Those looking for a more engaging ride should take a look at the Ford Edge, which recently gained a hard-edged (pardon the pun) ST model.
There are no dedicated drive modes, or paddle shifters. The car is simple in that way, which is refreshing considering some cars have so many different personalities to swap through in order to find one closest to its ideal state. The Murano offers its best side at all times its a comfy cruiser, that turns road trips into carefree sprints. With adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, rear automatic braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert, the Murano is a pretty high-tech ride. The only thing Nissan could do here is add the ProPilot Assist suite of tech that brings the car to a slightly higher tier of safety and drivers aids.
The powertrain doesn’t lead the Murano to fly off the line, but it’s enough to get up to speed and make passes. The CVT can get a bit noisy, which is more noticeable when you consider how quiet the rest of the crossover is, but the CVT operates without any issues.
The Verdict: 2019 Nissan Murano Review
Starting at $31,270 for FWD S-trimmed models, and $32,870 for AWD, we found ourselves in the top of the line Platinum Reserve AWD model. This model is fully loaded with no more extras to choose from, leaving a $45,130 price tag. This is much more than a top trim Subaru Outback, but more reasonable than a fully trimmed out Edge ST and on par with a top of the line Edge Titanium. The Edge has a slight advantage over the Murano in terms of equipment, space, and performance but the Nissan is far more stylish and luxurious over the Ford, and for some buyers, that’s all that’s needed to sway them. It’s always easier to go with the logical choice while the Murano goes for an emotional choice, which is a strategy that has a lot of impact as well.
Discuss this story at our Nissan Murano Forums