The Nissan Murano was a pioneering crossover when it was first introduced, and the 2015 redesign gives it a dramatic new look, inside and out.
Now in is third generation, the Nissan Murano is still a popular choice; the first three months of 2015 have it up 17% from the same period in 2014, and certainly, that boost has something to do with the Murano‘s trailblazing new style. The new look debuted on Nissan’s Resonance concept at the 2013 North American International Auto Show…
…and many of the concept’s unique elements were transferred directly to the new Murano.
The Murano carves a narrower path among similarly-priced crossover wagons in not offering a third-seat option. You’d opt for Nissan’s own Pathfinder if you wanted room for seven while spending about the same – the Murano and Pathfinder‘s base prices are just $70 apart – and you’d choose the Murano if your priorities favor the rakishness that’s possible when there’s no need to carve out room for heads near the tailgate.
As such, the Murano captures the portion of the crossover market where buyers would have chosen a personal-luxury coupe, if it were 40 years ago. Then as now, these buyers want something that will grab the eyeballs around it, and that’s what this Murano and its vivid Pacific Sunset paint did as it rolled through San Francisco.
With the Murano not accommodating a third row, Nissan was able to shape the rear into a floating roofline that is quickly becoming a corporate signature, as it has also been applied to the 2016 Maxima.
Muranos come in four trim levels – S, SV, SL and Platinum – and base prices start at $29,560 and then top out at an even $39K. You’d add $1,600 to add all-wheel drive to any of them. The test car was a Platinum AWD…
…and it added the $2,260 Technology Package, which includes the Power Panoramic Sunroof, along with Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW) and Forward Emergency Braking (FEB).
It’s an odd choice for Nissan to lump in the sunroof with the safety tech, but no one ever said that option packages have to make sense.
Add another $210 for mats for the floor and cargo area, the total price for the tester became a luxury-car-grade $43,955.
Murano propulsion comes from a 3.5-liter V6 that kicks out 260 horsepower. Throttle response is sharp, and the V6’s urge keeps the Murano feeling lively.
The suspension gave the Murano a stable and deliberate bearing while affording it a smooth and relatively impact-free ride. Wheels on the Platinum trim are these bladed 20-inch alloys. No matter which wheels it has, the Murano’s turning diameter remains a decent 38.7 feet.
The Xtronic CVT transmission was much more responsive than previous Nissan CVTs, with a credible approximation of actual gear shifts.
The shifter shows the test car’s Champagne interior theme to great effect – the mother-of pearl look is served up in a curvy chromed frame.
At the Murano’s 2014 LA Auto Show debut, a Nissan representative noted that the Champagne theme (which is offered alongside the darker Graphite and Mocha choices in the SL and Platinum trims) had tested particularly well with women.
We can see why that is, if women like a theme that considerably brightens the interior and makes passenger say, “Ooh, this is nice!” when they first see it. Add in the many soft-touch surrounding panels, and the Murano becomes a cozy cocoon.
Nissan is proud of its “NASA-inspired” Zero Gravity seats, and it should be – they do give the impression that you’re floating somewhere above the padding. This relaxation is delivered without the mushiness you’d normally associate with it.
Standard on the Platinum are heated and cooled front seats…
…along with heated rear seats.
The outboard rear seats are also of the Zero Gravity variety, and they’re also very comfortable. Legroom approaches large-sedan territory at 38.7 inches.
The cargo area is roomy, though its height is predictably circumscribed by the Murano’s roofline.
Discussion of the Murano’s packaging would not be complete without a mention of forward visibility. The daring ridges that swoop up the A-pillar and around the base of the windshield are ever-present in your field of view…
…and in hilly SF, they were a real hindrance when trying to see around them as you headed uphill. They added an extra layer of bodywork that was most unwelcome, as you were forced to roll into crosswalks and level out so you could see the cars coming from either side. This doesn’t exactly make you the toast of the pedestrians in those crosswalks.
Aside from that concern, the Murano has much to recommend it. Its friendly handling and imaginative interior trim blend with the striking styling to form a compelling choice in crossovers. Its continuing healthy sales show that Nissan understands the Murano’s market segment inside and out.
Tell us in the comments – do YOU like the Murano’s styling?
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD
Base Price: $40,600
Price as Tested: $43,995
Technology Package: $2,260
Power Panoramic Moonroof
Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC)
Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW)
Forward Emergency Braking (FEB)
Floor Mats And Cargo Area Protector: $210
Destination Charge: $885
Likable ride/handling balance
Styling may be too wild for some
Driving is not as sporty as the styling