Nissan’s 2017 midsize AWD Murano SUV is a work of art, both inside and out. In fact, Nissan refers to it as a “social lounger” with its sexy sculpted, chiseled exterior styling and suave, comfy interior. There’s few like it on the sensibly-priced SUV market.
While it’s little brother the Rogue and Rogue Sport are giving Nissan big sales numbers, Murano goes a few steps further in enticements by adding personified luxury.
Slipping into the cabin is a treat to the eyes and heart. Almost like love at first sight. The sumptuous heavily padded heated/cooled front perforated leather bucket seats offer at-home comfort on wheels. Even the sides of the console are softly padded, an area many car makers overlook.
All HVAC controls and instrumentation are easy to use and for 2017, CarPlay was added to the Nissan Connect infotainment system that displays on an 8-inch customizable touchscreen. The screen also serves navigation, rearview camera, audio and apps. Plus, Nissan’s 360-degree “birds eye” view of the cars’ surroundings that is accomplished by four cameras. They work in conjunction with Nissan’s Moving Object Detection system, Driver Attention Alert, plus three radar systems to help prevent forward and rear cross-traffic collisions.
Ingress/egress into the heated back seats is an easy 18.5-inch step-in. They too are equally as comfy with good leg and headroom as are the fronts.
Back in the spacious cargo bay and with the 60/40 split rear seats upright, there’s 31.1 cubic feet of space. And with them folded, 65.0 cubic feet. More meaningful, the area with the seats up measures 37 inches deep, 45 wide and 33.7 high. Flip the seatbacks and depth extends to 69 inches. Beneath the cargo floor resides the spare tire that contains the guts of the Bose audio system within the spare wheel. That leaves some small item storage around the left front of the tire.
Murano is offered in S, SV, SL and tested Platinum that you’d expect, was the top-shelf version. It comes standard with 3.5-liter, 260-hp V6 that acts more like a small V8. It was independently tested at 7.5 seconds for 0-60 mph. With 240 lb/ft of torque and coupled to a CVT transmission, EPA rates the combo at 21 city, 28-highway mpg. We should add here that this is an exceptional CVT. Unlike many others, it performs like a traditionally geared automatic, but maintains the smoothness and economy of a CVT. As such, performance was exceptionally potent for around town and highway driving despite its 4,017 curb weight. And it performs in hushed tones.
Handling too is about on par for the class. It’s not sporty like the Rogue, but maintains a secure feeling around sharp turns and cloverleaf’s taken at speed. At that point, there is some body roll. Parking is relatively easy with a 38.7-foot turning diameter. Because of the slanting floating-like roofline, visibility rearward is abbreviated but the cameras do the view for you. And the ride on 20-inch Bridgestone tires was smooth. Tar strips and pock-marked roads were merely rippled within the cabin.
With over 40 standard and safety features, the only options were a Technology Package ($2,260) that added a panoramic sunroof, intelligent cruise control, predictive forward collision warning, and forward emergency braking. Add to that carpeted floor and cargo mats for $225 and delivery of $900 and Murano’s $40,780 base price escalates to $44,164. About on par with others in this luxury SUV class.
To its credit, Murano was awarded a full five stars for the governments overall vehicle score, four each for driver/passenger frontal crash, five each for front/rear seat side crash and four for rollover.
The only demerit we could give Murano is that it didn’t have an AWD lock for when the going gets tough. With an undercarriage clearance of 6.9 inches, Murano is more for on-road than off-road. But the lock feature would be nice to have if getting stuck in snow. Otherwise, Nissan’s top tier Murano is worthy of serious consideration when shopping this crowded field.