by: Mike Ginsca
For 2015, Nissan has given one of their more popular crossovers a fresh redesign that is more in-tune with today’s stylish and luxury demands. Nissan has taken steps to make the Murano look and feel more like an upscale luxury vehicle but without the “upscale” price.
Performance – While the exterior and interior of the Nissan Murano has gone through drastic changes, the powertrain remains relatively unchanged. Still powered by a 3.5L V6, the Murano is one of the few crossovers that is still offered with a V6 engine rather than a turbocharged inline-4. Like the previous generation, the engine produces 260hp and 240 lb-ft of torque but in this new Murano, the fuel consumption is less. For the front wheel drive variant, the Murano can achieve a fuel rating of 11.0L/100km in a city and 8.2L/100km on a highway with the all wheel drive variant (as tested) being only 0.2 – 0.3 L/100km more. The improvement in the fuel rating is largely due to the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) that is equipped on all trim levels of the Murano. Normally, I’m not a big fan of CVT equipped vehicles because the driving experience doesn’t feel as satisfying as in a normal manual or automatic equipped vehicle. For the 2015 Nissan Murano, Nissan has made this CVT feel and behave more like a traditional automatic. During “spirited” driving, the vehicle’s computer generates virtual shift points that make it seem as though the Murano has a 6-speed automatic. When you’re just driving in a city, it still has those virtual shift points but under cruising conditions, the CVT keeps the engine’s rpms at a very low 1000 rpm to reduce the consumption of fuel.
Although Nissan’s engineers attempted to make the Murano a bit more fun to drive with the changes to the CVT, in reality they did the opposite. Around corners the Nissan Murano doesn’t feel as sporty as it looks and gets left behind the competition from Ford with the Edge and Volkswagen with the Touareg. Steering feel is too light and the suspension is too soft to provide any confidence when entering a corner. However, the upside to soft suspension and light steering is that this is by far one of the most comfortable crossovers on the market right now. The light steering makes maneuvering around city streets a breeze and the soft suspension will absorb the worst bumps that any city in the world can throw at it.
Comfort – Nissan has spent a lot of their efforts on improving the interior of the new Murano and it is clearly visible from the moment you open the door and step in. The redesigned interior still has the familiarity of being a Nissan product but now it looks more elegant and simplistic. There are traditional controls for the climate and the radio but almost everything else is controlled via the 8” touch screen in the center of the dash. All Muranos also have a 7” screen situated between the tachometer and speedometer which displays various vehicle parameters and driver assist programs. There is also a feeling of space in the cabin of the Murano due in part to the larger dimensions of the interior and also the large panoramic sunroof.
One thing that you may not notice initially are the seats of the new Murano. Nissan calls them “zero gravity inspired seats” because they are supposed to contour to the body’s shape when in a zero gravity environment. I personally have never been in a zero gravity environment but what I can say is that these seats are incredibly comfortable. Although I only drove this vehicle for a couple of hours, I was always in a comfortable position and felt as though I was in an upscale luxury crossover.
Odds and Ends – The thing that everyone will notice about the new Murano is how striking and concept-like it looks. In 2013, Nissan unveiled the Nissan Resonance concept which this new Murano is based on. Normally production vehicles only have one or two features that carry over from the concept design but with the Murano, almost all of the exterior design features have been carried over from the Resonance concept. The “V-shaped” grille, the chrome side sills, the boomerang rear tail lights, and the roof that has the illusion of floating on glass have all been carried over on the production version. It is a design that seems like it will age well as time goes on.
Nissan has also taken a page out of Volvo’s book and fitted the Murano with a lot of safety features that make it feel as though the vehicle can almost drive itself. If you opt for the Platinum trim level, the Nissan Murano will come equipped with a 360° camera system, rear cross traffic alert, moving object detection, predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, blind spot monitor, and intelligent cruise control. That’s a lot of electronic safety features and it will cost you a pretty penny for them. The top of the line Platinum trim is almost $45,000 CAD but the standard “S” trimmed Murano starts at just under $30,000 CAD.
There is no denying that Nissan has taken some risks with the design and execution of the new Murano. The fresh and upscale look of the crossover along with the high quality materials used in the cabin help to give Nissan a more luxury feel but the $45,000 price tag of the Platinum version puts it well within the price range of the established luxury automakers such as Audi, BMW, and Volvo.
Thank you to West Coast Nissan for providing the vehicle and visit their website to view this and other vehicles that are available for purchase or lease. www.WestCoastNissan.ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.