Just last year, the Nissan Murano five-passenger midsize crossover moved into its third generation, with a new exterior, updated premium interior and more technology.
For 2016, the Murano returns with a starting price of $29,660 (plus $900 freight) for the base S model with front-wheel drive. Prices top out at $40,700 for the Platinum version with all-wheel drive.
Other front-drive trims are the SV ($37,720), SL ($37,050) and Platinum ($39,100). All-wheel-drive models include the S ($31,260), SV ($34,320) and SL ($38,650).
The Murano’s restyled exterior expresses Nissan’s new direction for crossovers and SUVs, with the V-motion front end, LED boomerang lights in the rear, and unique “floating” roof.
As before, the Murano looks more like a car than an SUV, with styling that from the start set this vehicle apart from all of its competitors.
The latest design is highlighted by a thick chrome bar dipping deeply into the bumper from above the headlights, with the front character lines flowing in the same direction, from the boomerang headlights down the side of the body to the taillights, emphasizing power and motion.
As for the floating roof, it appears to be pillar-less, and adds a sense of lightness and speed – a unique concept for an SUV. It sits above kicked-up D pillars that resemble a jet’s tail. Of course, the pillars are there and supply the necessary support for the roof – they simply disappear into the design.
The cabin includes a refined instrument panel, low center console, zero-gravity front and outboard rear seats, and an airy atmosphere imparted by the large windows. An optional power panoramic moon roof gives the Murano a social-lounge feel.
Among standard or available features are NissanConnect with navigation and mobile apps, with an eight-inch color display with multi-touch control (includes swipe, pinch, and zoom); Nissan’s Around View Monitor with moving-object detection, using the same dash screen; an eight-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, and a four-way power front seat; Sirius satellite radio and Travel Link; and the Nissan intelligent key with pushbutton start.
Also available are blind-spot warning, predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alert, which uses radar to detect vehicles approaching from either side. Technology availability depends on the trim level chosen, with some features standard and others optional.
A 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is standard, along with an advanced Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission.
This generation Murano is approximately 145 pounds lighter, which, along with low-rolling-resistance tires, active grille shutter, underbody covers to enhance airflow, and improvements to the transmission, help to increase fuel economy by around 20 percent.
My test vehicle was an Arctic Blue Metallic SL model with front-wheel drive, Mocha leather interior trimmed with subtle chrome and trim accents in Brushed Silver and Jasper Pearlescent, riding on 18-inch machined aluminum-alloy wheels.
LED signature daytime running lights looped around the boomerang headlights and accented the V-motion front end. LED taillights and automatic on/off headlights are standard. Seven other exterior colors are available, including Gun Metallic, Java Metallic, and Pacific Sunset.
My Murano had fog lights, power liftgate, silver roof rails, and heated mirrors. A panoramic moon roof was included in a Technology Package for $2,260, along with intelligent cruise control, predictive forward collision warning and forward emergency braking.
I found the power liftgate to be useful as I had lots to haul while moving to a new home during my week in the Murano.
We also appreciated the NASA-inspired zero-gravity seats. These seats promote a neutral posture and help reduce fatigue and discomfort. The included Quick Comfort seat heaters warned up quickly.
Forward visibility was enhanced by the extended angle of the narrow front side pillars and the lower position of the instrument panel.
The spacious cabin was trimmed with high-quality materials, and I was impressed by the wide, flowing instrument panel, and especially the simplicity of operation with a 60 percent reduction in the number of navigation and audio switches.
Front passengers had 39.9 inches of headroom and 40.5 inches of legroom, while rear passengers had 39.8 inches/38.7 inches. The extra-wide front console increased the area between the front seatbacks, giving us more room to communicate front to back.
Our vehicle came with the NissanConnect system with navigation and mobile apps with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, satellite radio, HD radio, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA in-dash changer, eight-inch color multi-touch control display, voice recognition for navigation and audio, Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio, hands-free text messaging assistant, and front and rear iPod connection ports.
An 11-speaker Bose Premium Audio System with dual subwoofers was standard and provided smooth, flawless sound.
My tester had an auto-dimming inside mirror, with universal gate/garage opener; adjustable ambient lighting; memory settings for the driver’s seat and outside mirrors; rear privacy glass; dual-zone automatic temperature control, with front and rear vents; remote engine start with intelligent climate control; and three 12-volt DC power outlets.
With remote start and the intelligent climate control, you can start the Murano from up to 100 feet away, and heat or cool it to a comfortable 72 degrees, provided the climate-control functions are set ahead of time.
The rear seatbacks folded 60/40 using a lever in the cargo area or a button on the front center stack. Behind the rear seat, cargo volume was 39.6 cubic feet. With the seats folded, the volume increased almost double to 69.9 cubic feet.
In addition to the now standard front, knee, side, and side-curtain air bags, ABS, vehicle security system, and child-seat anchoring equipment, my tester had hill-start assist, traction control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system with easy-fill tire alert to signal the driver when the proper pressure has be reached.
Base price of my SL front-drive tester was $37,050. Total delivered price was $40,210, including freight and the Technology Package.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.