2015 Nissan Murano at a glance
BODY STYLE: Mid-size, entry-level luxury CUV.
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, front-/all-wheel-drive, CVT transmission
ENGINE: 3.5-litre, DOHC V6 (260 hp, 24 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) FWD, 11.0/8.2/9.8L/100 km city, highway/ combined; AWD, 11.2/8.3/9.9L/100 km.
CARGO: (behind the second row) of 1,979 litres (69.6 cu ft) with the seats down, 1,121 litres (39.6 cu ft) seats up.
TOW RATING: 680 kg
PRICE: S FWD, $29,998; SV FWD, $32,998; SV AWD, $34,998; SL AWD, $38,398 and Platinum AWD, $43,498.
2015 Nissan Murano is a game changer once again
NAPA, CA: The 2015 Nissan Murano is a major step forward made by taking a step back.
Introduced as a 2003 model, it featured concept car styling (quite daring for the time) combined with the best technology and interior appointments and it made Murano an instant segment hit.
Now in its third generation, Murano is seen by Nissan not only as its flagship CUV, but a keystone in a new and aggressive move to march the brand up in every segment.
Nissan claims it is the fastest growing automaker in Canada and the new Murano will be playing a major part in that.
The 2015 Murano goes back to the original formula with styling like nothing else on the road.
It starts with the rear ?floating? roofline which uses a blacked out D-pillar to give the illusion the roof is separate from the rear fender line.
Nissan?s now signature boomerang front and rear taillights have been exaggerated to make the mid-size body look even bigger than it is.
Another part of Nissan?s new styling language is the ?V Motion? grille.
Wheels are big 18-inch alloys, but there is an optional 20-inch. Some of the small finishing touches are aerodynamic roof rails and chrome exhaust tips.
Inside, Nissan says it tried to create ?an engaging social lounge feel? with a large, airy Power Panoramic Moonroof, a revised instrument panel with lower centre console and, most of all, the front and outboard rear Zero Gravity seats that draw inspiration from NASA research.
There are two interior colour combinations, Graphite or Cashmere, augmented by interior ambient lighting.
On the doors and centre controls Nissan has what it calls a ?Crystaline? finish which, from the outside looking in, appears to be wood. But on closer examination is a layered plastic. On the Cashmere interior it looked odd to me but was much better on a Graphite version I also checked out.
The centre instrument cluster is a seven-inch color display, while the centre stack has an eight-inch capacitive touch display featuring standard navigation on all models.
Standard equipment is extensive including: Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, BluetoothHands-free Phone System, NissanConnectwith Navigation and Mobile Apps, and eight-inch colour display with multi-touch control.
Optionally available are: Around View Monitor, eight-way power driver?s seat with power lumbar support, SiriusXMSatellite Radio (SiriusXMsubscription required, sold separately), iPodinterface, and 11-speaker Bose premium audio system.
A power liftgate is standard on all but the base model.
Another major change involves pricing that starts at $29,998, which is a $4,500 reduction over the base 2014 Murano S. That reduced pricing applies across the board for 2015.
The all-new 2015 Murano is offered in five models with starting prices at: S FWD, $29,998; SV FWD, $32,998; SV AWD, $34,998; SL AWD, $38,398 and Platinum AWD, $43,498.
Besides the all-round camera, Murano offers a full suite of safety technology including Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW) and Forward Emergency Braking (FEB).
Also available is Nissan?s new Cross Traffic Alert (CTA) system which utilizes radar sensors to help warn you of a moving vehicle or person you may not see approaching from either side.
Nissan claims best in class rear cargo volume (behind the second row) of 1,979 litres (69.6 cu ft) with the seats down, 1,121 litres (108.1 cu ft) seats up.
All 2015 Muranos are equipped with a standard 3.5-litre DOHC V6 with 260 hp and 240 lb/ft of torque teamed with Nissan?s Xtronic CVT transmission.
The Xtronic includes an updated D-step Logic Control with the ability to simulate shifts. The result is a more natural acceleration feeling without holding a high rpm constant.
Offered once again is front-wheel-drive. In its first year of production there was a Murano FWD model, but it was soon dropped due to sluggish sales. FWD is found on the bottom two of the five trim levels, all-wheel-drive on the other five.
Fuel economy for the FWD is 11.0/8.2/9.8L/100 km city, highway/combined and for the AWD, 11.2/8.3/9.9L/100 km.
Helping to improve fuel economy, the 2015 version of the Murano is 66 kg (146) lb lighter with low rolling resistance tires and a front grille shutter and underbody panels to increase lower air flow, resulting in a drag coefficient of 0.31 which is the best in the segment.
Handling and steering have also been addressed with the use of new rebound springs and more rigid stabilizer bars. Along with a quicker steering ratio, there is a reduced steering angle the benefit of which is a tighter turning radius.
The Murano is wonderful to drive, which I did for the better part of day in my favourite part of the word, Napa-Bodega California.
Despite driving rain, the Murano drove and felt more like a luxury CUV with Nissan making no bones about it seeing the Lexus RX as a main competitor.
North of Bodega Bay is Goat Island State Park that is reached by probably the most twisty section of the famous Pacific Coast Highway.
No wider than a double car driveway, being nimble and swift to react is crucial and the Murano tracked like a sportscar, never mind a mid-size CUV.
My co-driver left his acid stomach medication at home so we want to Costco (he buys in bulk) just as the store opened.
I was thankful for not just the backup camera, but also the cross traffic alert because there were shoppers running at full clip, oblivious to me backing up, just to get in the door.
The 2015 Murano joins the Pathfinder, Rogue, Juke, Xterra and Armada at the head of Nissan?s fleet of CUV/SUVs as Nissan bolsters its already diverse fleet.
With Murano, Nissan is banking on hitting another home run like it did in 2003 with the tagline for the 2015 being, ?A game changer once again?.