Nissan currently has five SUVs in its lineup (six if you include the Juke), ranging in size and target market: the little Rogue is a high-sitting, affordable vehicle, the Xterra is for those wanting to explore nature, and the Armada is Nissan’s answer to the Suburban and Yukon. Each vehicle has a very specific purpose.
The Murano is the flagship for the manufacturer’s crossovers. It can be equipped with the latest technologies, is extremely luxurious and very stylish. Having first appeared in 2002, this mid-size SUV is now in its third incarnation.
Learning to take risks
The Murano has had people talking right from its launch in 2002, and it’s been described as a 350Z with a weight problem. During its most recent makeover in 2015, the stylists applied the latest Nissan style signature (which would then be applied to the Maxima, among others), and in my opinion, the results were excellent. The first thing you notice about the vehicle is all the chrome. It’s around the front grille, on the lower part of the front bumper, surrounding the side windows, on the bottom of the doors and on the rear bumper. That much chrome could easily have been flashy, but the 2015 Murano incorporates all these elements with style. The D-pillar is painted black, the side windows have dark tint and there is a little chrome band that runs the length of the truck. All of this creates the illusion that the D-pillar isn't really there. It's a matter of taste, but I really like the crossover’s style.
Spoiling its occupants
Nissan didn’t design the Murano to use the interior space to be efficient. Instead, the SUV's passenger compartment pampers its occupants (who, ideally, would be four in number). Everywhere you look, there is brushed aluminum and silver, high-quality leathers and wood-type accents. The dashboard's style is fluid. The seats are as padded as a sofa and are heated and ventilated (at least for the Platinum version that we test drove). A large glass roof lets in a lot of light and the capacity of the cargo area is sufficient for your bags and those of your guests. If it wasn't for the Nissan logo smack in the middle of the steering wheel, you might even think that you were driving a more luxurious brand’s vehicle—like an Infiniti, for example.
Dynamic little cloud
The 2015 Nissan Murano is powered by the venerable VQ35 3.5-litre V6 engine that dates from the beginning of the millennium. In my test vehicle, it produced 260 horsepower and 240 lbs.-ft. of torque, which is 15 more horsepower than the original Murano. That's more than enough to move the vehicle (and I must admit that I love the sound of this V6), but we would have welcomed a little update. Even with the continuously variable transmission, fuel consumption is ordinary. In mixed city/highway driving, I couldn’t do any better than 12.3 litres per 100 km. This detail notwithstanding, the Murano’s ride is flawless. The suspension silently absorbs the holes and bumps in the road, wind noise is nearly imperceptible, and visibility is surprisingly good considering the vehicle’s plunging contours. Speaking of the view, the one from the Murano’s driver’s seat is interesting, since the hood’s fluid forms are clearly visible through the windshield, unlike a lot of vehicles that hide theirs. The power steering is surprisingly good and provides enough information on what’s going on under the front wheels without becoming too hard to handle at lower speeds. Sure, the Murano’s ride isn’t sporty, but that’s not the vehicle’s mission. It’s designed to be comfortable and help you travel hundreds of kilometres without getting tired, regardless of the conditions, thanks to the all-wheel drive on the better equipped versions.
Luxury without the logo
The Murano’s rivals include the Ford Edge and Lexus RX. To remain competitive, Nissan had no choice but to play to its strengths. The crossover’s style won’t please everyone, its price can increase quickly (from $31,848 for the basic version with front-wheel drive to $45,348 for the fully equipped Platinum) and its fuel consumption is a little high, but once you’re seated in this mid-size SUV, you can drive for long periods in total comfort. It offers all the conveniences of the luxury brands, but it just doesn’t come with the same prestige.