Nissan Murano: Curvaceous, Capable Crossover

By Sue Mead, February 15th, 2014

Slightly updated and refreshed for 2014, the Nissan Murano is filled with modern-day technology, a new interior/exterior color combination, as well as the same comfortable, commuter-friendly ride Murano is noted for.

Murano shares its name with the famed city in Italy that produces legendary, colorful glass. Nissan's midsize crossover utility vehicle is more of a pretty bauble than a posh crystal. But like the city of Murano's fine Italian glass art, Nissan's Murano shines no matter what angle you see it from.

The 2014 Murano is an attractively designed five-passenger crossover that gained star power as a result of its curvaceous and windswept profile, when it was unveiled more than 10 years ago. It has become a driving darling, due to its four-wheel independent suspension and class-leading ride and handling, along with its smartly-crafted cargo-carrying ability.

On the outside, one of Murano's surprise-and-delight elements is the availability of high-end features like bi-xenon projector style headlamps, fog lights on higher-end models and panoramic glass on the roof. Eighteen-inch wheels and tires sit underneath big wheel wells that, from a distance, make the vehicle look beefier than it is -- that doesn't mean it's small close up, rather this is just another interesting visual element.

Overall, Murano's shape is a curvy wedge with relatively long front and rear overhangs, with aerodynamic, steep rakes that punctuate the front windshield and rear hatch; at the same time, rounded design cues create an attractive blend of eye-appealing shapes. Chrome accents the horizontally slatted grille and door handles. Roof rails, running boards and a power liftgate, sunroof and second-row moonroof are all available as options.

Inside this four-door crossover is a cabin that looks and feels expansive, thanks to its convex design and wide, wraparound components like the metal-accented center stack and broad center console. The shifter is placed low, but within easy reach next to the driver, while a padded storage unit is designed to hold multiple gadgets. Storage is generous, including a big glovebox, pockets for cellphones and a cargo area that accommodates enough stuff for a family weekend away, as well as large and wide items. For 2014, a graphite interior is now available with Tinted Bronze exterior paint.

Murano gets a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/aux stereo, push-button start, automatic door locks and dual-zone climate control. A 7-inch color screen with navigation and other infotainment features is available.

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 260 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is an automatic continuously variable transmission. Muranos can be ordered either with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The combined fuel economy is around 20 mpg for both all-wheel and front-wheel drive versions; city/highway numbers are 18/24 mpg (FWD) and 18/23 mpg (AWD).

We drove the Murano on a route on bustling freeways and along smaller roadways. Although this 2014 crossover casts a midsize footprint it feels bigger once inside, with a roomy, open feel and good ergonomics for motoring. Its engine has some brawn and the CVT transmission is well-suited to help it move quickly when needed. The Murano is decidedly non-trucky, maneuvers with ease and has strong brakes for stopping power. Our only complaint is the small glass at the back end for visibility rearward.

Four-wheel independent suspension with all-aluminum components helps to give this family car its surprisingly sprightly feel on the road. Four-wheel ABD with EBD is standard, as are traction and vehicle dynamic control systems. Six airbags are standard on the Murano, which has a 5-Star safety rating. Active safety systems, including blind spot warning, moving object detection, and lane departure warning are optional.

Starting at $28,440, the 2014 Nissan Murano is available in eight models: S, SV, SL, and LE trim lines with either 2WD or AWD for each.

Specifications

Base price $28,440 (as tested: $29,300)
Curb weight 3,823 lbs.
Displacement 3.5-liter
Epa mileage rating 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 21.7 gal.
Horsepower (net) 260 at 6000 rpm
Motor type 24-valve DOHC V-6
Overall length 189.9 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 240 at 4400 rpm
Transmission CVT
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD midsize CUV
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