2015 Nissan Murano

2015 Nissan Murano

Rating

62/100

Background

We’ve been impressed with the Nissan Murano ever since its debut way back in 2003. One of the first crossover SUVs, it stood out for its combination of stylish looks, roomy five-passenger seating, and power and handling characteristics that were more sport sedan than sport-utility. Since then, dozens of crossovers have followed from almost all automakers. That larger crowd makes it harder for the 2015 Nissan Murano to stand out, but this is still one crossover you’ll want to check out.
Just as it did with the original, Nissan is taking some risks with the new Murano’s styling. Bold and futuristic, the 2015 Murano’s sporty and swoopy lines are highlighted by a "floating" roof that creates the illusion that the rear roof section is supported only by glass. Along with prominent chrome accents and distinctive winged headlights, the Murano brings a welcome dose of style to a class of car that is still at its core about practicality.
There is still plenty of practicality in the new Murano, though. It’s a little bigger than last year’s model, and the added space provides more room for passengers and their cargo. Nissan’s "Zero Gravity" seats also make their debut on the 2015 Murano. They provide great support for reduced fatigue on long drives, and in the Murano you get them not just for front occupants, but rear (outboard) passengers as well. All occupants are surrounded by quality materials and the latest in technology and safety features. Nissan’s three-row Pathfinder might offer more room for a similar price, but the Murano is certainly nicer.
Nissan has softened the Murano’s suspension tuning this year, biasing this crossover more for comfort than has been the case in the past. While the new Murano isn’t as much fun to drive as before, the drive quality is certainly smooth and quiet. Largely unchanged are the Murano’s 260-horsepower V6 engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT), but fuel economy is better this year.
That sole V6 might still be a small drawback if you want other options under the hood. Notably, the redesigned 2015 Ford Edge, which is the Murano’s closest competitor, offers a range of engines that are either more fuel-efficient or more powerful. If you want some added off-road or towing ability, the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee would be a better choice. Or, if you’re willing to spend more money, you might also want to look at the 2015 Lexus RX 350 or 2015 Volkswagen Touareg. Overall, though, we like the newest Murano and its mix of style, practicality and luxury.

Drive

The 2015 Nissan Murano has traded earlier models’ sporty character for a more luxurious ride. The drive is smooth, and ruts and potholes are never jarring, even with the Platinum model’s 20-inch wheels. Despite a slight reduction in weight compared to the previous-generation model, though, the new Murano leans and feels less nimble around turns. While the steering is fairly light at low speeds, it has some reassuring heft as things pick up, but it isn’t particularly direct or communicative. The new Murano is most at home just swallowing up miles on the interstate, and we suspect most auto buyers will find its laidback personality easy to like.
The carry-over V6 engine is suitably powerful and works well with the CVT. While CVTs are often associated with increased engine drone during hard acceleration, this transmission acts more like a regular automatic and simulates gearshifts. That said, accelerating up to highway speeds or passing slower traffic with authority requires an aggressive right foot, and the V6 engine sounds a bit coarse in the process.

Exterior

The 2015 Nissan Murano is a midsize crossover SUV offered in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and Platinum. Each can be had with front- or all-wheel drive.
Standard equipment on the S includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and cruise control. Electronics and entertainment features include Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, smartphone app integration and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack.
The S model is offered with an optional Navigation package that consists of an 8-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, a navigation system, HD radio and a USB port with an iPod interface.
The SV model gets all the equipment in the Navigation package, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel, roof rails, foglights, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment) and a four-way power front passenger seat. An optional Premium package for the SV adds a panoramic sunroof and a nine-speaker Bose sound system.
Going with the SL model gets you the Bose sound system as standard and further adds heated outside mirrors, driver memory settings, a blind spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alerts, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 360-degree parking camera system, ambient interior lighting and a power liftgate.
The top-line Murano Platinum is loaded with the above, plus a power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel, 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats and power return rear seats.
The SL and Platinum are offered with a Technology package that includes a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and a forward collision warning and crash mitigation system.

Interior

The seats might not be the first thing you notice when you hop in the Murano, but they will leave a lasting impression. Nissan calls them "Zero Gravity" seats because they are designed to contour to the position the body assumes in zero gravity. Here on 1-G Earth, we think they are among the finest seats on the market. They are especially supportive of the lower and mid back, and you’ll find them both up front as well as for the two outboard rear seating positions.
The rest of the interior is also impressive. While we’re not really sold on the woodlike trim, almost all of the other materials are soft to the touch and high in quality. The overall effect is certainly upscale, and the new Murano’s larger size gives it an airy feeling. The Murano also gets Nissan’s latest touchscreen interface. It is called Nissan Connect and it houses the available navigation system and offers smartphone app integration via owners’ smartphones. We initially found the system had integration for just one app (Google search) but other Nissan models offer access to several apps, so improved functionality is sure to follow.
When it’s time to haul stuff, the 2015 Murano is up to the task, with 39.6 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 69.9 cubic feet available with the rear seats folded flat. Those cargo room figures are competitive with competitors like the Ford Edge and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Safety

The 2015 Nissan Murano comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, hill-start assist, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag, active front head restraints and a rearview camera.
In SUVS.com testing, a 2015 Murano Platinum with front-wheel drive required 117 feet to stop from 60 mph, a shorter than average distance for vehicles in its class.
The SL and Platinum models add blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, as well as a 360-degree parking camera system that includes a moving-object detection feature that lights up quadrants of the around-view monitor and sounds a beep if people or objects are moving near the vehicle. Optional for these models is adaptive cruise control combined with a frontal-collision warning and mitigation system that can automatically apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate the severity of a frontal crash.

Specs

Powering the 2015 Nissan Murano is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 260 hp and 240 pound-feet of torque. A CVT is standard, and you can get the Murano with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Either way, EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 24 miles per gallon combined (21 city/28 highway), which is better than what you get from most competing crossover SUVs with V6 engines.
In acceleration testing, SUVS.com recorded a 7.5-second time to reach 60 miles per hour that puts it at the top of the charts for front-wheel-drive midsize crossovers.

Value

Spacious and upscale interior; cozy seats; nice balance of power and fuel economy; pleasant ride.

Verdict

Just as in years past, the Nissan Murano is a pleasant and versatile five-passenger midsize crossover. But with this year’s redesign, it’s also more stylish and luxurious. The 2015 Murano is a smart choice if you want an upscale, V6-powered crossover without having to step up to a luxury brand.

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