There is a lot of competition in the SUV market these days. As the market expands, there are some great deals if you know where to look. The Nissan Murano comes in at one of the lowest priced midsize SUV's on the market. But you don't have to sacrifice all that much if you're looking for something within your budget. Indeed, the price point is not the only thing the Murano's got going for it. A well designed and upscale interior, excellent safety features, and a good amount of tech make the Murano a contender for the jewel in the crown of Nissan's SUV program.
How does the interior feel?
Not only have they not cut back, but they've also added a number of sought-after tech features. The newest model Murano comes in four trims: the S, SV, SL, and Platinum. The standard model S has an incredibly responsive and intuitive infotainment system with an 8-inch display and Apple CarPlay connectivity, a big plus for the price point. In addition, the S's satellite radio, USB drive, and smartphone integration system make the most of the six-speaker audio system. If you move up to the SV you'll have an additional rear seat USB port for passengers; leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, power adjustable front seats, and more safety features on top of the standard suite (which is already pretty great). An $8000 upgrade to the SL gets you an 11 speaker Bose audio system with dual subwoofers as well as tech safety upgrades and allows you to max out on HD radio and the introduction of Apple CarPlay, two new features that the Murano added in 2017. The Platinum goes above and beyond with a power adjustable steering wheel, 20-inch wheels, dual-pane moonroof, and heated and cooled front seats, making it as close to a luxury SUV as you can get without it actually being a luxury SUV.
With all this, have they left room for safety features?
Overall, the Murano proved to be reliable and exceptionally safe and was awarded the 2017 Top safety pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The lowest trim S comes with a rearview camera, always handy for those awkward backward maneuvers, and the SV offers blind spot monitoring. In higher trims, Nissan pulls out all the stops on its safety suite. The SL offers a rear cross traffic alert and driver drowsiness monitoring as standard, and a technology package has adaptive cruise control, forward emergency braking and predictive forward collision warning. In particular, the optional 360-degree camera makes the Murano stand out among its rivals as an optimal safety feature: using a system of cameras to produce a 360-degree image of the surrounding cars, the feature enables drivers to see and avoid potential hazards.
What will my fuel bills look like?
The 3.5L DOHC, V6 engine delivers 260 horsepower and 240lb-ft of torque. This double overhead camshaft system means It can tow up to 1,500lb, which is admittedly light for its class. However, you'll get 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. With a 19-gallon fuel tank on the automatic transmission, all-wheel drive SUV you can expect an average annual fuel cost of about $1,600 (put into context, that's New York City to Baltimore, Maryland for $18! Not bad). If there's one disappointment from the Murano, it's the lack of an available hybrid engine, which competitors like Lexus are already offering (albeit for a significant price jump). All in all, the Murano manages to remain well within the comfort levels for fuel economy, and while it won't astound you (unless you often drive from New York City to Baltimore), it will certainly allow you to remain budget conscious without looking too much like it.
So, how does it drive?
The Murano is a little deceptive: from outside it's a sleek, curvy, sporty looking SUV but once you're in the driver's seat it feels much more predictable and subdued. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as most midsize SUV owners aren't looking for a racetrack experience, and prefer a car that handles well without feeling too heavy or bulky. The Murano does all that, as it's targeted at the driver who wants a plush, comfortable ride that feels safe and new, if not entirely thrilling. The relaxed steering handles well on straights but tends to lean into the corners, forcing you to take advantage of the AWD braking. The Murano is engineered almost to encourage you to drive safely and again, that's what most people who look for this type of vehicle will want. You won't get any fancy modes like sport, performance or off-road, and off the line, the Murano isn't especially quick. However, it picks up speed nicely, and with the additional engine muffling in the newest generation, the Murano is a smooth, quiet and an all round enjoyable ride.