The styling isn't for everyone, but it sure is interesting.

2016 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD Review

A curvaceous, comfortable CUV for cruising

By: Wade Thiel

Web2Carz Senior Staff Writer

Published: June 3rd, 2016

Nissan created a unique offering with the Murano. The CUV isn't for the kid-toting young professionals, it isn't for the off-road enthusiast and it isn't a shoo-in for the luxury vehicle shopper. Instead, it hits a special part of the market by providing an option for people who are in between almost any of the top target audiences. The Nissan Murano is for the empty nester who needs a comfortable vehicle but isn't quite yet ready to retire with a Lincoln. It's for the quirky Aunt who wants a vehicle that is as trendy as she is, or the English teacher who wants something that's fun, practical and comfortable.

Nissan has a knack for slipping vehicles into areas of the market that have been more or less previously untapped. It's doing it with the new Nissan Titan XD and the Murano plays a similar game. Why would Nissan try to compete in an already crowded market of CUVs all claiming to be the best family vehicle?

We recently spent a week with Nissan's Murano and came away happy with the results. It's far from perfect but for the right buyer, the Murano could be extremely satisfying.

  • Driving Impressions

    The first thing we noticed about the Murano is that it's smooth. Driving along in the Murano, it was clear that this CUV was built with comfort at the top of the list of priorities. The steering, acceleration, and overall ride were all very smooth and pleasant, though we did notice a lack of road feel.

    In city streets, the Murano is easy to handle, though parking proves to be a bit of a challenge because the car feels bigger from the inside than it actually is. Luckily, Nissan equipped the Murano with a 360-degree camera and plenty of sensors, mitigating most of your parking worries.

    • Ride Quality: Very smooth even over rough city streets and highways.
    • Steering: Light and responsive, though lacking road feel.
    • Acceleration: Faster than we expected. The Murano can really get up and go when you ask it to.
    • Braking: Smooth, progressive and plenty powerful enough to slow and stop the CUV quickly.
    • Handling: The Murano feels a little tall when cruising around corners and there is a fair amount of body roll, though it is not uncomfortable.

  • Technology & Safety

    Nissan didn't skimp on technology for the Murano, with a Bose Premium audio system, Homelink universal transceiver, auto-dimming rearview mirror, ambient lighting, several charging stations, Sirius XM radio Sirius traffic and travel link and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. While there is a lot of tech in the Murano, the operating system of the infotainment system was slow and cumbersome. It took a while to find out where things were located and much of the system was not intuitive.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: The screen size was more than adequate and the graphics of high quality.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: Phones paired easily via Bluetooth and reconnected upon entry.
    • Voice/Sound Quality: Call quality was very good with no interruptions. The Bose sound system also sounded great when playing music.
    • Controls: The buttons and knobs on the dash of the Murano felt solid and worked well. While the touchscreen functioned fine, we found the system wasn't very intuitive and was mildly cumbersome. Something as simple as putting an address into the navigation system seemed to take longer than it should have.
    • Safety: Front, side, side curtain and knee airbags, 4-wheel ABS brakes, vehicle dynamic control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, vehicle security system, hill start assist, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, around view monitor with moving object detection.

  • Exterior Design & Styling

    The styling of the Murano is somewhat polarizing. Some people love it and other don't like it at all. The Murano brings concept-car-like curves, a floating roof, chrome accents and large wheels to a segment that is dominated by vehicles that more or less look the same. There are a lot of curves and creases on the sides and front of the vehicle and no surface is flat, giving it a very fluid look.

    • Front: The front is dominated by the Murano's black grille and a large swoop of chrome. LED headlights and running lights, as well as low fog lights, help draw the eye to other areas of the vehicle's nose.
    • Rear: The rear isn't quite as busy, but it still features a number of curves and the Murano's odd C-shaped taillights.
    • Profile: From the side you really get the full effect of the sweeping curves and floating roof. The Murano looks like it's moving even when it's not - a skill Nissan may have lifted from Mazda, though Mazda does it better.

  • Driver & Passenger Comfort

    From the outside, the vehicle doesn't seem like it could be as roomy as it is. The materials in the Murano feel high quality, although the color scheme and the odd design on the plastic by the shifter and trim on the doors and dash give the Murano a tacky look. The silver color Nissan picked for the secondary accent color in the cabin also looks tacky and both elements together cheapen the feel of the interior quite a lot. We imagine many shoppers will be turned off of the Murano based on interior alone.

    While we were mildly repulsed by the color scheme and overall look of the interior, there's no denying that the Murano is comfortable. Ergonomically everything was well-placed, and long drives are enjoyable.

    • Front Seats: The zero gravity front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive. The lumbar support and other seat adjustments allow you to make the seat fit your body, and the ability to heat or cool the seats makes them even more comfortable.
    • Rear Seats: The heated rear seats are plenty spacious enough for three adults, though the seats don't feature as many adjustments as the front.
    • Visibility: There's good forward and rear visibility, and the Murano sits high enough for you to easily survey the road.

  • Storage & Cargo Room

    The Murano utilizes its space well, with a generous storage area and cargo space. The CUV actually has more cargo room than both the Lexus RX 350 and the BMW X5 - two of its main competitors. The center console is also spacious and the door pockets adequate to carry whatever you need.

    • Storage: Spacious glove box, center console and cup holders mean you'll never have an issue bringing along your things.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: The large truck space edges out the competition with 39.6 cubic feet of space in the cargo area and 69.9 with the seat area.

  • Final Impressions

    The Nissan Murano is a comfortable, spacious and interestingly styled CUV that will appeal to people who need the utility of a vehicle that sits higher and offers more cargo space than a sedan but still want a smooth car-like ride.

    When we first drove the Murano, we weren't sure who the vehicle was for. After taking in its pros and cons, it became clear that Nissan is hitting the CUV market from a different angle to attract a different kind of buyer. The Murano's upscale interior and polarizing styling don't make it the go to CUV for families or off-road enthusiasts, but that's what the Nissan Rouge and Pathfinder are for. The Murano stands out because it's different, and it's different in a good way.

  • Price & Specifications

    Engine: 3.5-liter V6

    Transmission: CVT

    Drivetrain/Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive

    Power Output: 260 hp / 240 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 21 city / 28 highway

    Base Price: $40,700

    As Tested: $44,070 (incl. $900)

    Standard Features: 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, all-wheel drive, driver and front passenger, side-side impact and side curtain airbags, driver knee airbag, lower anchors and tethers for children, ABS brakes, vehicle dynamic control, traction control system, tire pressure monitoring system with easy-fill tire alert, vehicle security system, hill start assist, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, around view monitor with moving object detection, NASA-inspired zero-gravity seats, 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, driver's seat power lumbar support, 4-way power front-passenger's seat, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats with power return, leather-appointed seats, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, driver-side memory for seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, auto-dimming inside mirror, Homelink universal transceiver, BOSE premium audio system, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA in-dash changer ambient lighting, cruise control, NissanConnect with navigation, 8" multi-touch color display, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Sirius XM traffic and travel link, HD radio, front and rear USB connection ports, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, streaming audio via Bluetooth, voice-recognition for navigation and audio, hands-free text message assistant, 7" advanced drive-assist display, dual zone automatic temperature control with front and rear vents, Nissan intelligent key with push button ignition, remote engine start system with intelligent climate control, power windows with front window one-touch auto-up/down and auto-reverse feature, three 12-volt DC power outlets, LED signature and daytime running lights, LED low and high beam headlights, automatic on/off headlights, fog lights, heated outside mirrors with LED turn indicators and reverse tilt-down, LED taillights, rear tinted privacy glass, silver roof rails, power liftgate

    Options on our test vehicle: Technology Package: power panoramic moonroof, intelligent cruise control, predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking; floor mats and carpeted cargo mat.

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