Arguably the most fun-to-drive Nissan crossover, the midsize Murano got a complete makeover just two years ago, and it has returned for 2017 with a few upgrades in its options packages.
Actually, Nissan is calling the changes part of a “midyear update” that “expands available option packages” and features. These Muranos are called 2017.5 models, and most notable among the additions is a new Midnight Edition package ($1,195) available only on the top-of-the-line Platinum trim level.
This package adds black roof rails and mirror caps, along with Midnight Black 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Other 2017.5 upgrades include the availability of Siri Eyes Free2 or Apple CarPlay on all trim levels; a revised SV Premium Package ($2,540), which brings heated front seats and outside mirrors; and the new SV Driver Assistance Package ($900), which offers a self-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage/gate opener, Around View Monitor 3 with Moving Object Detection, Driver Attention Alert, Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
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Those two packages are merged into a single new SV Premium Plus Package ($2,990), which also includes 18-inch Gun Metal aluminum-alloy wheels.
Murano prices now start at $29,770 (plus $940 freight) for the base S model with front-wheel drive, and $31,370 for that version with all-wheel drive. Other trims include SV ($32,970, FWD; $34,570, AWD); SL ($37,300, FWD; $38,900, AWD); and Platinum ($39,610, FWD; $41,210, AWD).
With the recent makeover, the Murano received edgier styling that once again set it apart from its competitors in the burgeoning midsize crossover segment.
As before, the Murano seats up to five people, and is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 260 horsepower and 240 foot-pounds of torque. It’s connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission.
EPA ratings are 21 mpg city/28 highway/24 combined (front- or all-wheel drive). That's up from 18 city/23 highway in the previous generation.
For this report, we tested the front-drive 2017 SL version with the Technology Package ($2,260), which, along with the $37,300 base price, pushed the total sticker price to $40,500, including freight.
The Technology Package showcases several new high-tech features available on the Murano, including radar cruise control, which paces the car to the vehicle it's following; predictive forward-collision warning, which lets the driver know if the car is getting too close to the vehicle in front; and forward emergency braking, which automatically applies the brakes if the driver ignores the forward-collision warnings.
The new heavily sculptured look brings lots of creases and folds, eliminating the smooth lines of the previous model. One of the coolest optional features is the power-operated panoramic moon roof, which was included in our Technology Package. It comes the closest to giving the Murano a convertible feel now that the CrossCabriolet (convertible) model is gone.
Murano's interior was designed to give occupants the feel of an “upscale social lounge,” Nissan says. To help with that, our SV model came with comfortable brown leather seats, with buckets up front and a three-person bench in the rear.
Our rear seat had a pull-down center armrest that also had dual cupholders, and, at the front, a gadget cubby for smartphones and such. At the rear of the front console, in easy reach of the rear passengers, there was a USB port, along with dual vents for heating and air conditioning.
There also are map pockets in the backs of the two front seats, and door pockets all four doors with a small bottle holder in each.
Front-seat occupants had a pair of cupholders in the center console to the right of the shifter, along with a gadget cubby just to the rear of the shifter that can hold a smartphone turned sideways. It has both a USB port and an auxiliary input jack. Behind that is a deep console cubby with lid; inside it is a tray on top. The dash on the passenger side is flat enough to hold a couple of kids' meals, and the glove box is large enough for storage of electronic devices.
Our tester came with the NASA-inspired zero-gravity seats for the driver and front passenger, as well as the two rear outboard passengers. These help keep occupants comfortable on long drives, just as they were designed to do for astronauts on long space flights. The rear seats have a three-cushion design, a first for a Nissan vehicle.
Knee room is a bit limited in the rear seat, though, especially when the front seats are set to accommodate larger people.
The SV came with a navigation system combined with an 11-speaker Bose audio system (including two subwoofers), AM/FM/HD/satellite radio with CD changer and an eight-inch color touch screen. NissanConnect with Mobile Apps was standard, along with Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming. The nav system can be operated by voice commands.
We had heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment on the driver's side, and four-way on the passenger's side. The steering wheel and shifter were leather-wrapped. Remote entry with pushbutton start was included, along with dual-zone automatic climate control, a seven-inch in-dash DriveAssist display above the steering column, and a driver's side memory system for outside mirrors and seat position.
Three 12-volt outlets are provided along with the two USB ports, which can be used for charging of smartphones and tablets.
Outside, our Arctic Blue Metallic-painted Murano had fog lights, silver-painted roof rails, a power tailgate, heated outside mirrors, LED signature and daytime running lights, LED taillights, and rear tinted privacy glass.
We had 18-inch machined aluminum-alloy wheels on our SV. Platinum models come with 20-inch wheels.
There was more than ample power from the V-6 engine, and the standard traction control helped keep the car going smoothly.
Originally introduced for 2004, the Murano's name was taken from a style of fine Italian glass. It fits into the Nissan crossover lineup between the compact Rogue and Rogue Sport and the larger, seven-passenger Pathfinder. Rogue and Pathfinder are assembled in Tennessee, while the Murano is a product of Nissan’s Mississippi plant.
The exterior styling has some of the same chiseled look of the subcompact Nissan Juke crossover, and also carries cues from the also recently redesigned Rogue. But the idea was not to create a family of like-styled crossovers; each one was intended to have its own distinct appearance.
Murano is in the middle of the lineup by size and price; the current model is 4.2 inches longer than the previous generation. It’s aimed at an older, more-affluent crowd, such as baby boomers and empty nesters looking for something more stylish and with more technology.
The included Advanced Drive-Assist Display is a version of the instrument panel in the newest generations of Pathfinder and the Altima sedan. In the Murano, it has several new features, along with the seven-inch display.
Power/folding rear seats, a power tailgate, and remote engine start were included on our tester. The cargo area has 39.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seatback up, or 69.9 cubic feet with the seatback folded. It can be folded partially; it has a 60/40 split.
Underneath, the new Murano has a four-wheel independent suspension with a front strut/rear multi-link arrangement. It comes with four-wheel antilock disc brakes and electronic stability control. Also standard are front seat-mounted side air bags, roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for both rows, and a driver’s knee air bag.
Other safety technologies on our car included Blind Spot Warning on both sides, a backup camera and the Rear Cross Traffic Alert system, which uses radar to detect a vehicle approaching from either side of the car when it’s backing up.
Also included on our car was Nissan’s cool Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, which gives the driver a bird’s-eye view of the car from above. The system has cameras on each side and on the front and rear, which combine to feed images to the dash screen.
View the car summary at www.star-telegram.com/cars. The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2017 Nissan Murano
The package: Five-door, five-passenger, front- or all-wheel-drive, V-6, midsize crossover utility vehicle.
Advantages: Nissan’s midsize crossover moved into its third generation for 2015, with new, bolder styling, a refined interior and more available technology. Some options packages have been added or updated midyear for 2017.
Negatives: Rear seat has limited knee and legroom.
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6.
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic.
Power/torque: 260 HP./240 foot-pounds
Length: 192.8 inches.
Curb weight range: 3,790-4,017 pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; side-curtain for both rows.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Cargo volume: 39.6 cubic feet (behind 2nd seat); 69.9 cubic feet (rear seat folded).
Fuel capacity/type: 19.0 gallons/unleaded regular.
EPA fuel economy: 21 mpg city/28 highway/24 combined for all configurations.
Major competitors: Toyota Venza, Subaru Outback, Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, Mazda CX5, Kia Sorrento, Hyundai Santa Fe.
Base price range (2017.5): $29,770-$41,210, plus $940 freight.
Price as tested: $40,500, including freight and options (SV front-wheel-drive with Technology Package).
On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.