When Nissan debuted their Murano mid-sized crossover back in 2002, it was a hit because of its distinctive new styling that differed vastly from the competition.
The 2012 version tested, retained most of the 2002 styling highlights, but Nissan mistakenly changed its signature vertical tail lamps of the original Murano, to horizontal lamps. But it will be interesting to see what the next generation 2014 Murano brings.
In a recent Automotive News interview Nissan design chief, Shiro Nakamura said,” When we did the first Murano, we shocked people. The new Murano will be very different,” he promised. So we have to wait and see.
Until then, the 2012 Murano still holds its most favorable traits of unique styling, engaged driving and top-tier sophistication.
Offered in S, SV, SL and LE, and a new Platinum Edition LE model, I tested the latter and it came with a gorgeous Sapphire paint job that glistens and sparkles in the sunlight. It reminds me of metal flake paint that was so popular on custom cars back in the 60s and 70s.
Exterior aside, Murano’s interior is equally as impressive with quality materials, intuitive HVAC functions and comfort over the long haul. A low 18-inch step-in onto perforated leather seats that were heated fore and aft, offered ample lateral support contrasted nicely with the faux blonde wood trim on dash and doors. Included was a heated steering that is warmly welcomed on frigid days.
My test car had a 6×3.75 inch LCD screen for GPS nav, audio and a rearview camera with parking assist lines and some HVAC functions. I would like to see it recessed more as bright sun produced a glare that made it difficult to view. A touch pad and mouse make HVAC operations simple.
In the back seat, leg and headroom are ample and the split folding rear seatbacks also recline. Too tall headrests block rear visibility somewhat, but the rearview camera helps the cause.
Cargo capacity is rated at 31.6 cubic feet with the seats up, 64 with them folded. More meaningful, it measures 36.5 deep, 44.5 wide and 30.5 inches high with the seats up. Fold them and depth reaches to 70 inches after pulling two brushed aluminum handles. With a shrink spare in place of a full-size, it allows for a convenient 28.5×25 inch storage bin beneath the floor for small items.
Handling is nimble and precise making parking easy. The view outward isn’t bulbous or bulky like some crossovers, just engaging. And the ride is smooth over most road surfaces. While Murano could handle some mild off-road trails, I would refrain from them, as there’s no AWD lock.
Murano also has spirited acceleration with its 3.5L, 260-hp V6 that develops 240 lb/ft of torque. Connected to a superb CVT automatic transmission, the combination is EPA rated at 16 city, 23-highway mpg. I’m surprised though Nissan hasn’t developed a hybrid for the Murano as Lexus, for example, has done with their RX 350h crossover.
With good build quality, Murano received four stars (out of five) for frontal crash (driver), three for passenger and five for front seat side crash ratings. It was also bestowed with its highest rating of “Good” on both frontal offset and side crash tests.
Equipped with every possible convenience item plus dual sun roofs, the Platinum package consisting of Nav with voice recognition/touch screen, XM radio, 20-inch alloy wheels and more added $2,020 to the base price of $39,900 for a total of $44,440 including delivery. A pricey crossover but a top-line model that could be had for less if you can settle for a less goodies. As such, Murano remains a top crossover pick among the many that are out there.
To test drive a Murano stop by Rothrock Motors on N., 15th Street in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.