In a midsize SUV segment increasingly crowded with three-row family haulers, Nissan bucks the trend by offering refined seating for 5. The production Murano did not depart much from the concept model displayed at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The result is a boldly styled exterior with a luxurious interior to match. The Murano is a refreshing crossover sure to make you stand out without sacrificing the utility that draws many buyers to SUVs.
The Murano offers a luxury level interior without the extra costs typically associated with luxury ownership. There’s no need to use premium fuel or pay overpriced maintenance and parts costs. Despite a few known issues, the Murano is still a better buy than many luxury brands in terms of reliability. Add exceptional fuel economy to the equation and the Murano becomes a rather logical value proposition.
Nissan’s 3.5 Liter V6 that’s used in many vehicles across their line is standard in the Murano. It makes 260 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 240lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. It’s paired with Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission, one of the smoothest CVTs in production. This combination is good for an EPA rated 28 miles per gallon highway and up to 21 miles per gallon city, better fuel economy than other 3.5 Liter equipped Nissan and Infiniti models with a traditional six-speed transmission. The tradeoff is decreased acceleration performance. Since the transmission is constantly changing ratios, it can be difficult to access the engine’s power which lies mostly at higher revs without stomping the gas to the floor.
The Murano is best driven efficiently and leisurely, where the smoothness of the transmission really shines. Compared with the previous generation Murano, the handling is uninspiring. Nissan made a conscious decision to trade athleticism for comfort. The ride is comfortable and compliant and is best enjoyed driving moderately. Push the Murano with any kind of verve and you’ll have a hard time maneuvering this SUV. The Murano’s performance profile best suits casual driving well within the legal limits. While sitting in its immaculate interior, you won’t mind driving languidly.
Inside the Murano, you’ll find an interior as breathtaking as the islands for which it’s named. You’d be hard pressed to find an interior this good in anything but a luxury brand. Even the cloth covered seats manage to look upscale, SL and higher trims receive high quality leather seating surfaces with cross stitched contrasting panels. There are silver or Jasper pearlescent toned trim pieces that augment the upscale ambiance. We’re particularly fond of the Cashmere Leather combination. The steering wheel is thickly padded and soft to the touch. The “NASA inspired Zero Gravity” seats are some of the most comfortable around if a bit on the soft side. The rear seats recline to offer equal comfort and provide sufficient head and legroom for adults.
They fold easily with a one touch release lever to provide up to 67 cubic feet of space and some trims have a button to power return the seats. With the seats up, there’s still plenty of space at 31.1 cubic feet. Nissan’s infotainment system has a large, bright display with intuitive controls and dedicated volume and tuning knobs. The system features Apple CarPlay standard to the delight of many reviewers. It’s best paired with the Bose premium audio system that comes with two subwoofers to a phenomenal auditory experience. A handy feature in SL and higher trims is a rear USB audio input that allows a second row to control the music, no six foot long cable necessary for picky passengers! Rear visibility is poor due to the Murano’s concept car styling but there’s a standard rearview camera and optional multi view camera to make up for it. The cabin is monastery quiet with no noise present but an unobjectionable engine tone under hard acceleration. We think the Murano offers perhaps the best interior in the midsize SUV class, with enough utility for drivers who don’t need three rows.
Looking for an SUV that stands out from the crowd? The Murano’s got you covered. It has some of the strangest lines we’ve seen in awhile and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! The front features oddly shaped oversized headlights with modern LED daytime running lamps. A chrome trimmed trapezoidal grille sits between and below there’s a large intake also trimmed with chrome. The aggressive lines carry into the side, where they slope upward toward the rear. The window sills ascend upwards as if they will touch the roof line, then dip down toward the tail lights. The result is windows that wrap from A pillar to A pillar, a rather futuristic design. At the rear, oddly shaped, bright LED taillights contort to bulbous body lines. Below, dual exhaust tips provide symmetry and a nice touch to the modern Murano design. The Midnight Edition adds black rims, roof rails, and mirrors for an even more aggressive appearance. We prefer the rims in black, as the alloys look a little too busy for our taste. Love it or hate, let us know what you think about the Murano’s design in the comments below.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awards the 2017 Nissan Murano a 4-star overall safety rating, with 4 stars in the frontal crash test and rollover categories and 5 stars in the side impact crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives a “Good” rating in all crash tests for 2015 through 2017 Nissan Murano models, with the additional designation of “Top Safety Pick+.” This rating means this SUV is one of the safest on the market. The available front crash prevention technology is rated “Superior,” the highest possible rating. The only weak area in their report was the headlights. The halogen projector type headlamps found in the S, SV, SL, and SL Hybrid trims were rated “Poor,” the lowest possible rating, for inadequate visibility on the left side and during turns. The LED projector headlights found in the Platinum trim after 2016 were rated “Marginal” for inadequate visibility on a gradual left curve and poor visibility with high beams on both straightaways and curves. There aren’t too many vehicles on the market that don’t receive similar ratings. As a result, we’d recommend the Murano as an exceptionally safe SUV.
JD Power and Associates awards the 2017 Nissan Murano a 3.5 out of 5 predicted reliability rating, down from 4 out of 5 in previous year models. Consumer Reports offers a 3 out of 5 reliability rating for 2017 and 2015 year models and just a 1 out of 5 rating for the 2016 model. The main problem reported for the 2016 model was a faulty brake system that led to 2 NHTSA recalls. The first is for a damaged o ring in the antilock brake system actuator that results in a lack of brake fluid pressure control. This causes erratic braking that may result in extended stopping distances or lack of control. Nissan will notify affected owners and will resolve the problem at no cost to the owner. The second is a brake fluid leak from the anti-lock brake actuator pump, undoubtedly related to the aforementioned o ring. A brake leak could result in a fire or loss of braking power. Nissan will replace the ABS actuator at no cost, check the NHTSA site with your VIN to see if your model is affected or if the recall has been resolved.
The 2017 model has a recall for the ABS actuator as well, so make sure this issue has been fixed by a certified Nissan dealer. Additionally, three manufacturer communications have been issued by Nissan to the NHTSA. The first two are irrelevant and the third is for a bad right side drive shaft seal that causes a leak in the transfer case. This affects all AWD model Muranos, Rogues, and Pathfinders. There’s a known issue with the 3.5 Liter V6 in many Nissan and Infiniti models including the Murano. If there’s a rattling or tapping in the front of the engine, it indicates the chain tensioners or guide rails are wearing out ahead of schedule. This problem should be remedied immediately, as it will lead to costly engine repairs if the chain breaks! This usually occurs around 70,000 miles, so be wary when buying used and ensure the parts have been replaced before purchasing if you’re looking at a high mileage Murano. Another known issue with this engine is a propensity for carbon buildup in the throttle bodies. The throttle body should be cleaned by a certified technician or a mechanically inclined owner every 10,000 miles to prevent poor engine performance. If you notice a high idle, erratic idle, or unpredictable power delivery, this is probably the cause. Despite these issues, this engine is known for its longevity and durability when maintained properly. If you’re not the type of owner who stays on top of issues like these, you’re better off considering some competitors who don’t require near as much maintenance like the Ford Edge, Kia Sorento, or GMC Acadia.
If you’re looking for a midsize SUV with luxury aspirations in both design and driving dynamics, the Ford Edge is a better bet. Like the Murano, the Edge eschews the third row in favor of providing a polished 5 seat midsize SUV with luxury leanings. The Murano has a nicer interior than the Edge with more comfortable seats and exceptional trim quality. The Edge isn’t far behind and still delivers a high quality interior, especially in models with leather seating. Both the SYNC 3 and NissanConnect infotainment systems are highly regarded by reviewers, but we’d give the edge to the Nissan for better buttons and more intuitive controls. The Murano comes with a rearview camera and has an available multi view camera system to improve parking ability. The Edge also includes a backup camera but surpasses the Murano with an available autonomous parking assistant that will park the Edge for you! Both have ample room for second row passengers and plenty of cargo space. We prefer the more conservative exterior styling of the Ford, its wide, athletic stance exudes performance prowess.
The Edge Sport runs about 40k, around the price of a Platinum trimmed Murano. At this price, the Edge runs circles around the Murano in terms of driving experience. The 2.7 Liter EcoBoost engine delivers a much more useable powerband that motivates the SUV from naught to sixty in 5.6 seconds, almost 2 seconds quicker than the Murano. Ford sacrificed ride comfort for robust handling. It has a stiff suspension that controls body motion well while cornering, leagues better than the Murano. The road and engine noise are well contained but the cabin isn’t as quiet as the Murano. Choosing between these SUVs largely depends on your driving habits. If you drive leisurely and prioritize comfort, we’d choose the Murano. If you like having a bit more power and prefer an engaging driving experience, the Edge Sport may be the best midsize SUV this side of the luxury brands!
The Murano S has an MSRP of $29,770 including a 3.5 Liter Dual Overhead Cam 24 valve engine, Xtronic continuously variable transmission, Electronic Brake force Distribution, Brake Assist, 18 inch machine-finished split 5-spoke aluminum alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, LED taillights, chrome door handles, power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, UV-reducing solar glass, rear privacy glass, Advanced Drive Assist Display with 7 inch WVGA color display, Siri Eyes Free voice recognition, hands-free text messaging assistant, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, RearView Monitor, fine vision electroluminescent gauges, dual zone automatic temperature control with in cabin micro filter, rear passenger air conditioning vents, steering wheel-mounted cruise control, Nissan Intelligent Key with push button ignition, remote front windows down, tilt and telescoping steering column, variable intermittent windshield wipers, intermittent rear window wiper, dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors with sun visor extenders, stainless steel kick plates, 6-way manual driver’s seat, 4-way manual front passenger’s seat, 60/40 split fold-down rear seatbacks with cargo area accessible levers, reclining rear seatbacks with center armrest, front seatback pockets, cloth seating trim, Jasper pearlescent or brushed silver tone trim, six speaker audio system, auxiliary audio input jack, front USB connection port for iPod interface and other compatible devices, 3 month SiriusXM subscription, streaming audio via Bluetooth wireless technology, illuminated steering wheel mounted audio controls, Nissan advanced air bag system with dual stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt and occupant classification sensors, driver and front passenger seat mounted side impact supplemental air bags, roof mounted curtain supplemental air bags, driver supplemental knee airbag, active brake limited slip differential, zone body construction with front and rear crumple zones, and energy-absorbing steering column. An $890 Navigation Package equips NissanConnect with Navigation featuring Apple CarPlay, HD Radio, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link with smartphone interface, and rear passenger USB connection port. All Wheel Drive is an extra $1,600.
The $32,970 SV trim adds fog lights, black roof rails, NissnConnect with navigation and 8 inch multi touch control color monitor featuring Apple Carplay, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, Nissan voice recognition for navigation and audio, remote engine start system with intelligent climate control, vehicle speed sensing variable intermittent windshield wipers, 8-way power driver’s seat, driver’s seat power lumbar support, 4-way power front passenger’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, rear USB connection port for iPod interface and other compatible devices, HD radio, radio data system, and speed sensitive volume control. The Premium Package installs a Power Panoramic Moonroof with one touch open/close, 11 speaker Bose premium audio system with dual subwoofers, power heated outside mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, and heated front seats for $2,540. The Driver Assistance Package costs $900 and provides an auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink universal transceiver, Around View Monitor, Moving Object Detection, Driver Attention Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Blind Spot Warning. All Wheel Drive can be equipped for $1,600.
The SL trim arrives at $37,300 and provides silver roof rails, power heated outside mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, power liftgate, Around View Monitor, HomeLink universal transceiver, driver’s seat and outside mirrors memory settings, auto-dimming rearview mirror, adjustable ambient interior lighting, heated front seats, leather-appointed seats, Bose eleven speaker premium audio system with dual subwoofers, Driver Attention Alert, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Moving Object Detection. The SL Technology Package adds a Power Panoramic Moonroof with one touch open/close, Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Cruise Control, and Predictive Forward Collision Warning for $2,260. All Wheel Drive can be equipped for $1,600.
The Platinum trim costs $39,610 and furnishes 20 inch machine finished aluminum alloy wheels, LED headlights, NissonConnect with Navigation, 8 inch multi touch control color monitor featuring Apple CarPlay, NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM, steering wheel position memory, power tilt and power telescoping steering column, climate controlled front seats, heated rear outboard seats, heated steering wheel, and power return seatbacks. The Platinum Technology Package costs $2,260 and includes a Power Panoramic Moonroof with one touch open/close, Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Cruise Control, and Predictive Forward Collision Warning. The Midnight Edition package provides black power heated outside mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, black splash guards, black roof rails, and Exclusive Midnight Edition black 20 inch alloy wheels for just $1,195. All Wheel Drive can be added for $1,600.
The $43,065 Midnight Edition installs exclusive midnight edition black 20 inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, power panoramic moonroof with one touch open/close, black power heated outside mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, black splash guards, intelligent cruise control, predictive forward collision warning, and forward emergency braking. All Wheel Drive can be equipped for $1,600.