|Nissan’s Clever Crossover Pampers Passengers||| Print ||
|Thursday, 19 July 2012 15:44|
The 2012 Nissan Murano’s front end features a bold grille and wide front headlights, a wide hood, powerful wheel arches, and an aggressive stance.
By Steve Schaefer
San Leandro Times
The Nissan Murano is what every crossover claims to be — a nice car with the height and utility of an SUV. It gets in some of the “sport” part, too, thanks to a potent 260 horsepower V6. It offers luxurious accommodations as well.
Nissan does a great job with its V6 engines — they are often recipients of industry awards. This one, with 240 lb.-ft. of torque passing through an advanced Xtronic CVT™ continuously variable automatic, knows what to do when a freeway entrance ramp looms ahead, and it never runs out of juice during passing maneuvers. Despite weighing two tons (!), the car feels light through the steering, and the suspension delivers some satisfying road feel.
Driving moderately, I averaged 18.3 miles per gallon. The official EPA numbers are 18 City, 24 Highway (20 mpg average). EPA Green Vehicle numbers come in at 6 for Air Pollution and 4 for Greenhouse Gas — midpack.
The original Murano had a shockingly fluid appearance when it arrived a decade ago, ushering in the burgeoning era of upscale tall people carriers now known as “crossovers.” The new Murano still looks sleek and rounded. The current model, upgraded for the 2011 model year, got an exuberant non-traditional horizontal grille and some oddly proportioned headlamps in the redesign.
Inside, Nissan has brought the Murano more upscale with each iteration. The materials feel good to the touch and have a high-quality gleam about them. The Bluetooth phone connection works very well — not every car can claim that yet. I like the way the 60/40 fold-flat rear seat offers an optional power return feature. Touch a button and the seat goes back to its upright position.
Nissan has positioned the Murano as a rolling high-tech showcase for years, and there’s a long list of available advanced technology features. The Nissan Intelligent Key™ with Push Button Start is one item, along with a standard Interface System for your iPod®. The Bose® premium audio system has 11 speakers, including dual subwoofers, strategically located throughout the cabin. It includes Radio Data System (RDS) information about what’s playing and speed-sensitive volume control. You can order up XM® Satellite Radio and a Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, too.
The Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System offers a unique bird’s-eye view and advanced menu structure and intelligent search capabilities. Sold separately, the XM NavTraffic® Real-Time Traffic Information, XM NavWeather™ and Zagat® Restaurant Survey provides mobile concierge features. I was amused that the weather feature kept warning me about gale force winds within 25 miles when there wasn’t even a breeze outside. I’m not sure where it was taking its reading.
There are plenty of places to stash things — I found a variety of convenient cargo storage areas throughout the interior, including the standard two-level center console, pockets for mobile phones, coins, maps and more, plentiful cupholders, an extra-large glove box, and dual seatback pockets, as well as a capacious rear cargo area.
You can order your Nissan Murano in four levels: S, SV, SL and LE. Pick from front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD). If you opt for the AWD system, it provides increased traction in a variety of driving conditions by distributing engine torque depending on which direction you’re steering and the actual direction of the vehicle. Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with a Traction Control System (TCS) is standard on all Muranos.
If you have to drive on an occasional dirt road or head to the ski slopes in the winter, AWD would be your best choice. As it is, my Brilliant Silver SL tester was front-wheel drive, and it worked great for the highways and byways that constitute my urban life. It’s probably best to save the weight (139 lb.) and expense ($1,600) of all-wheel drive if you don’t really need all four wheels pushing the car.
The SL is the second highest model, so I enjoyed niceties like an eight-way power driver seat wrapped in leather and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. I got the rain-sensing wipers that know when to work and how fast. The power liftgate saved effort. The Bose audio system spoiled me for many of my other test cars. You can get used to this level of pampering.
Prices start at $30,365 for the S with front-wheel drive. My SL tester came to $39,225, including the optional Navigation package and shipping.
There is a market for this car — and it’s a competitive one now. Nissan seems to have a good handle on quality and styling, and the company’s engines are among the best in the industry. The Murano should serve most drivers’ purposes effectively. If you don’t need as much car, both for size or luxurious accommodations, then the Nissan Rogue may fit the bill — starting at just $22,895.