Whistler, BC – When the Nissan Murano first arrived over a decade ago, “crossovers” were a new term. Introduced in 2002 for the 2003 model year, the original Murano shook up the then-new category with its curved lines and unique look.
Love it or hate it, the Murano has truncheoned on for the past 12 years and is now on its third generation platform.
A select group of auto journalists, including yours truly, were invited to drive the all-new Murano from Vancouver to Whistler, BC via the Sea-to-Sky highway, arguably one of the West Coast’s best twisty roads to drive on.
Styling is obviously a big part of what made and continues to make the Murano a standout in the marketplace.
In fact you can tell that styling was high on the priority list from the origin of the model name itself. The original vehicle was inspired by the elegance of the famed Italian Murano glassware.
Nissan’s research has shown that Murano owners are more likely to carry two extra adult friends in the back versus kids.
Whereas the typical Nissan Pathfinder owner is likely to be 34 years of age, married and with two kids, Nissan expects that the Murano owner will be 45 years of age, married and likely an empty nester.
Appropriately, the theme that the Murano’s interior designers adhered to was that of an upscale social lounge with an inviting and comfortable atmosphere.
To that point, there is even a rear compartment that houses the rear occupants’ smartphones, and an available USB port for the rear seats that allows for separate control of music and display.
Rather than the traditional wood or metalized interior accents, Nissan also offers the use of two different and unique pearlescent glossy trims. I was more of a fan of the accents that were paired with the Graphite colour theme rather than the Cashmere (light beige).
Nissan also made a big deal about their next generation NASA-inspired advanced Zero Gravity seats. The 2015 Murano is the first Nissan vehicle in which both front and rear outboard positions have these seats.
How are they different from traditional seat designs? Nissan’s Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, Didier Marsaud, explained that the Zero Gravity seats adhere to an even higher level of quality control from the parts suppliers.
The level of padding, the type of foam, and the seat designs themselves are there to help to support a neutral posture, ensuring hours of fatigue-free driving and comfort.
My driving partner, Regina Chan, and myself arrived at our Whistler destination back pain-free despite spending over two hours on the road.
Since Nissan considers the Murano to be a premium vehicle, there are quite a few niceties offered as standard or available equipment.
LED projector headlamps are available, as is an 11 speaker Bose premium audio system. Advanced safety features that were previously only available on Infiniti vehicles have also propagated to the Murano.
Flanking the centre console is Nissan’s new 8.0 inch capacitive touch display with smartphone-like configurable icons.
While we didn’t get much opportunity to play around with the system, suffice it to say that from our limited experience, it was a big step up from Nissan’s previous infotainment system.
The Murano is powered by Nissan’s corporate 3.5-litre DOHC V6 engine producing 260 hp and 240 ft-lbs of torque. This is the only engine choice available.
Nissan’s latest Xtronic CVT transmission has also been retuned for quick response and smoothness. This latest iteration adds new D-Step Logic, adding the sensation of gears in a traditional stepped automatic transmission.
Largely thanks to the 145 pound diet, fuel economy is projected to increase by 20 per cent versus the outgoing Murano.
Ride, Handling, and Comfort
Like previous Muranos, the 2015 model offers relatively responsive handling and a comfortable ride through its front Macpherson strut/rear multi-link suspension.
My only complaint is an electric steering feel that seems overly boosted for my personal taste. But I suspect that Murano customers like it tuned this way.
Providing easy front-to-rear conversations was one of the goals set out by the engineering team.
2015 Murano pricing starts at $29,998 for the front-wheel-drive only Murano S trim level. Nissan expects that most customers will opt for the SV trim (with optional all-wheel-drive for $2,000 more), or for the SL trim at $38,398. The latter comes with all-wheel-drive, Bose audio system, and leather seats as standard equipment.
This top spec model includes a set of (larger and better looking) 20” machined aluminium wheels, LED headlamps, climate-controlled front seats and heated rear seats, as well as all of the advanced safety features mentioned above.
The Nissan Murano has always stood out from the crossover crowd with its daring and futuristic design. The third-generation model continues to kick it up a notch with its concept car styling and new premium interior appointments.
Look for a more through review in an upcoming full road test of the Murano.