Lacey Elliott: When the original Murano first hit the streets in 2002 it’s unique styling made it stand out in a crowd of boxy looking crossovers. This third generation model is making its ancestors proud with its unique stand alone styling. . The blacked-out side and rear pillars create a dynamic ‘floating’ roof illusion. I love the boomerang style headlights and taillights and think they are another distinctive detail that will keep people staring.
Dan Heyman: Just as the previous-generation did, the 2016 Nissan Murano divided opinion on the styling front when I attended the launch last year; I was in the positive camp back then, and after spending a week with it, I remain there. Yes, the “floating roof” is kind of cool, but for me, it’s the general stance and aggressive front-end treatment that really sets this particular crossover apart from stuff like the Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe or Chevrolet Traverse. Especially the Traverse. The Murano’s optional two-tone wheels, chrome trim and as Lacey mentioned, its 370Z-esque head- and taillights, meanwhile, are icing on the cake. I guess the only concern I have is whether the unique styling will continue to appeal once the honeymoon phase is over, which isn’t always the case with an overhaul like this. Only time will tell.
Lacey Elliot: Luxurious. Truly Luxurious is simply the best way to describe it. The first time I sat inside the Murano I could have mistaken it for a vehicle with a much higher price tag.. An incredible mix of soft touch materials help create top notch fit and finish. Additionally, all the knobs, buttons and vents have been placed conveniently within arm’s length. The design goal was to create a ‘social lounge’ to share with your friends; and Nissan nailed it. Every seat is spacious and astonishingly comfortable.. The centre console has a mobile device holder in addition to USB port(s) for the rear passengers. The Murano was also designed with function in mind. The rear seats split 60/40 and fold flat for 1,979 liters of cargo space providing plenty room for kids, strollers and groceries. It seems as no detail has been missed.
Dan Heyman: I guess how you feel about the “elbow groove” cut into the front centre armrest will vary—I like it—but otherwise, I have to agree with Lacey; this is a properly-sorted cabin with oodles of soft-touch materials, soft leather (assuming you’ve selected either the SL or Platinum trim levels; leather can’t be had on the lower S and SV trims) and intuitive centre stack with nice, chrome-finished buttons. I also found the seating position to be perfect—felt more like I was sitting in a car than most crossovers I’ve sampled, yet somehow, the sightlines are nice, high, and very crossover-esque. Don’t know how they pulled that one off.
Lacey mentions the “social lounge” ambiance; yes, I guess it has that, but the strange, somewhat plasticky inserts that exist instead of woodgrain or faux brushed aluminum aren’t exactly to my taste. Meanwhile, shiny piano black surrounds the centre stack, which is nice, until it gets dusty; this stuff attracts dust more readily than the photo of your great grandma and grandpa’s wedding day on the top shelf.
A word of caution, however: in order to fold the rear seatbacks, you need to pull a tab stuck between the lower cushion and the seatback. If you’re not careful, you could pinch your hand as the seatback springs forward. You do get 1,979 litres of space once you do drop the two seats, however.
ON THE ROAD
Lacey Elliot: Nissan’s proven 3.5litre DOHC V6 delivers 260hp and 240 lb-ft torque. Focusing solely on the numbers, the Murano is not one of the top performers in its class but gives you a confident refined ride while feeling of luxury. The Continuously Variable transmission (CVT) mimics gears when you are accelerating rapidly and is delightfully smooth. The quicker steering ratio provides a tighter turning radius, making parking a breeze in even in the tightest spots. The quiet interior makes it easy to carry on conversations with everyone inside. This Murano sees a 20% improvement on fuel efficiency thanks in part to dropping 150 pounds over last years model. Its rated at 9.8L/ 100km combined city and highways driving in the front wheel drive and 9.9L in the AWD version. Although the thick rear pillars look __good__, they do create blind spot for the driver.
Dan Heyman: While I won’t bother repeating Lacey’s power figures here, I will comment on just how powerful the Murano feels. Oftentimes, a vehicles that looks fast on paper won’t feel as such when you actually get into it, but that’s just not the case with the Murano. Power delivery is smooth, helped along by the CVT; normally, I’m not a huge fan of these types of transmissions—I find them less than engaging on the driver involvement front—but Nissan was one of the first to use them on a grand scale, and the latest XTronic CVT is well-implemented. There are no paddle shifters, but Nissan has programmed in “shift points” so it actually feels like gears are being shuffled. It’s kind of an intangible thing, but that feeling of cog-swapping is an important part of motoring. The offshoot here is that, as Lacey explains, it also helps in the fuel economy department.
While the steering is nice and direct—which I like—but it’s also a little heavier than expected. I like that, too, but I fear that those who would rather forsake more sport car-like steering for more ease of use in slower circumstance may be left wanting. There are many crossovers at this level whose wheel can be turned with little more than an outstretched digit, but not this one. There’s little to complain about in the handling and ride departments, though. They’ve managed to keep the Murano taut without making the ride overly jarring; I nice mix of athletic and coddling.
Lacey Elliot: Front wheel or AWD is available on all trim levels. For just under $30k this crossover comes equipped and offers a lot of value. It has power everything, heated front seats, 6-way adjustable drivers seat, dual zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth and cruise control The top of the line Platinum trim, at $46k goes head to head with the luxury brands. By spending an extra $16k to get the Platinum trim will add LED headlamps, 20-inch alloy wheels, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and power-folding second row seats. With safety on my mind, the middle trim SL and the Platinum can add on the Technology Package that adds Forward Braking and Predictive Forward Collision Warning.
Dan Heyman: The infotainment system got a bit of a re-vamp for 2015, and now features a mega-bright flatscreen display that can either be navigated via touch or via a console-mounted control knob, which is my preferred route as I found the screen a little touch to reach if I had the seat moved back as far as I needed it to be. It’s a super-intuitive interface that takes no time to master, which is refreshing these days. Sounds great, too, thanks to 11-speakers (six if you go S or SV) and speed-sensitive volume, which is nice a discreet in its functionality. You’ll never actually know that the volume levels are changing as you slow down or speed up; it just always sounds right.
Lacey outlined the driver aids pretty well, and those she mentions are all good. However, the lack of any form of lane-departure warning system is a strange oversight. A similarly-equipped Ford Edge, for example, doesn’t just warn you as you drift over the line, but if you choose, can actually steer you back on-course if you still don’t react.
Lacey Elliot: I would buy this well-designed crossover based on looks alone. However, the comfortable ride and practical use of space makes the Murano more than just a pretty face. Why spend more money on a more expensive crossover when you can get everything you want for less?
Dan Heyman: Have to agree with Lacey on the looks thing; well worth the price of admission in my book, although I’ve talked with colleagues that are weary that some of the—admittedly quite adventurous—styling cues may not age well. I’m not sure I agree, but even if that is the case, there’s a lot to offer here that still make it an intriguing entry into the popular CUV segment. The power, well-appointed and luxurious interior and fantastic tech interface make it a worthwhile entry that should be looked at when considering a purchase in the segment.
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