What to Look for When Buying a Used Nissan Murano

2020 Nissan Murano

If you want to buy a really affordable used midsize crossover SUV you’re probably going to have to buy something relatively old, and we all know that vehicles beyond a certain age can look very dated and pretty unappealing. Here I’m going to discuss a used midsize crossover that’s been around since 2003 where even the very earliest versions still look good today, and that vehicle is the Nissan Murano.

How many generations of the Nissan Murano are there?

There have so far been three different generations of the Nissan Murano. When the Murano first appeared at the 2002 New York International Auto Show it made quite a splash with its unique, futuristic exterior styling. The Murano was Nissan’s first crossover SUV for the US and Canadian markets and it went into production in May 2002 and was marketed as a 2003 model year.

Although the Murano is a Japanese vehicle designed, engineered and manufactured at Nissan America in La Jolla, California, the name actually comes from the Italian city of Murano.

First-generation Nissan Murano (2003-2007)

2003 Nissan Murano
2003 Nissan Murano

I wouldn’t normally get excited about a first-generation model of any vehicle dating back as far as 2003 but I’m a bit shallow sometimes and how a vehicle looks is very important to me. In fact, I’m more bothered about how a vehicle looks than just about anything else and there aren’t many vehicles around that are coming close to 20 years old that have styling that still looks good after that amount of time.

If you’re a little cynical about my initial claim about how well the first-generation Murano’s styling has held up, just take a look at something like a 2003 Kia Sportage or a 2003 Toyota Highlander and then you’ll see what I mean.

First-generation Murano’s were powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine producing 245 horsepower and 246 lb.-ft. of torque, and it was available in both front- and rear-wheel-drive formats. It was also one of the largest vehicles at the time that used a CVT transmission, and if you’d like to know more about the CVT you can check out an article I wrote recently about them.

You may also come across a high-performance version of the first-generation Murano badged as the Murano GT-C, and this one used a high-output version of the V-6 engine that developed 305 horsepower that was also found in the Nissan 350Z of the time.

Second-generation Nissan Murano (2009-2014)

2010 Nissan Murano
2010 Nissan Murano

In 2007 Nissan started building a new second-generation of the Murano, but it skipped the 2008 model year so you’ll only find this one from in 2009-2014 model year versions. This new second-gen Murano retained the same overall shape as its predecessor, but for me, the styling isn’t as appealing and I think it just looks a bit odd and nowhere near as appealing as the first generation.

This one was first offered in S, SL and range-topping LE trim levels with S and SL models being standard front-wheel-drive, while the LE came standard with Nissan’s Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive (iAWD) system that was optional for the other two trim levels.

Performance was improved this time around with a revised version of the 3.5-liter V-6 engine which this time put out 265 horsepower and could get the Murano from 0-60 mph in just over seven seconds.

Nissan really stuck its corporate neck out for the 2011 model year with a Murano CrossCabriolet which was billed as “the world’s first all-wheel-drive crossover convertible.” It was only sold in the top LE trim and featured a fully automatic, hydraulically operated cloth top. It didn’t hang around long though and 2014 was its final model year before being put out to pasture.

Third-generation Nissan Murano (2015-Present)

2015 Nissan Murano
2015 Nissan Murano

A third generation of the Murano went into production in 2014 for the 2015 model year, and I think this was a bit of a return to form for the exterior styling even if is a lot more conventional than the original Murano and it fits very neatly into Nissan’s current corporate design.

It has to be said that America likes the Murano a lot more than the rest of the world and the third-generation is only built in left-hand-drive form after being discontinued in markets like the UK and Japan.  

To Nissan’s credit, it has refrained from dropping some small-displacement turbo-four into the Murano and to this day it has always been offered exclusively with a V-6 engine. This third-gen model got a mid-cycle refresh for the 2019 model year that brought in updated front and rear fascias and some revisions to the standard specifications.

There was a hybrid version of the Murano offered by Nissan but it arrived for the 2016 model year and didn’t appear again after that.

In its best year for US sales (2016), Nissan sold 86,953 Murano models and there have only been a couple of full years since 2003 when sales fell below 50,000. Even in 2020 when the market was severely disrupted by measures to combat coronavirus, Nissan sold 58,255 units of the Murano in America so it does make you wonder how many more would have been sold if everything had been normal.

Does the Nissan Murano hold its value?

The Nissan Murano does hold its price reasonably well compared to many of its rivals. The earliest versions had MSRPs of just over $28,000 back in 2003 but you’ll struggle to find a good one today for less than $5,950. Using the caredge.com online depreciation tool you’ll find the Murano loses around 17% of its value after a year and around 33% after three years.

Is the Nissan Murano reliable?

The Nissan Murano has a patchy history of reliability. Overall, the Murano is fairly reliable, but the problem is some of the most common problems are related to the transmissions and they also tend to be among the most expensive to fix. There’s no track record of niggly little problems to look out for, but when you test drive a used Murano you really must pay particular attention to the transmission.

Does the Nissan Murano have transmission problems?

Transmission problems are the Achilles heel of the Nissan Murano but this really only applies to models up to and including the 2011 model year. If you buy one from 2012 or newer then you’ll probably be getting a seriously reliable midsize crossover as Nissan certainly learned its lesson from some really bad years for transmission problems before then.

What Murano model years should you avoid?

If you’re searching for a used Nissan Murano to buy it would probably be wise to avoid a 2009 model. The Car Complaints website has almost 800 complaints listed from Murano owners for that model year. The most common problems reported are a soft brake pedal that costs around $2,400 to fix, a faulty ABS controller that will cost you something like $1,600 to sort out, and a full-blown transmission failure that will set you back at least $5,000 to fix.

What’s the fuel economy of the Nissan Murano like?

With its powerful V-6 engines, fuel economy has never really been the strong point of the Nissan Murano. The first-generation Murano is rated by the EPA at 18 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined. The good news is it doesn’t make any difference whether you have all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive as both offer the same fuel economy.

Things improve with the third generation and a 2015 Murano gets EPA ratings of 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined. Later models are slightly worse due to an improved new testing regime and a 2020 Murano is rated at 20/28/23 mpg respectively with either drivetrain.

How many seats are in a Nissan Rogue?

The Nissan Murano was a five-seat midsize crossover SUV when it launched in 2002 and it has remained a five-seat model ever since. Nissan has thankfully resisted the temptation to squeeze one of those ridiculously tiny third-rows of seating into the Murano and that means there’s a decent amount of passenger and cargo space inside.

2007 Nissan Murano
2007 Nissan Murano

Is the Nissan Murano AWD?

The vast majority of Nissan Murano models since launch have been standard front-wheel-drive with AWD available as an option. There have been some top-spec models that came standard with all-wheel-drive, but you’ll find a good number of both drivetrains in the market for every available model year.

How safe is the Nissan Murano?

The Murano has always been equipped with a good level of standard safety features at every trim level and the NHTSA has often given the Nissan a full five-star rating for overall safety. The IIHS finally awarded the Murano Top Safety Pick status with the arrival of the second model year in 2009, but that lapsed again in 2011 when the Nissan was first tested for roof-strength.

Although the ratings were a bit of a mixed bag for the second-generation Murano, things got better from the 2015 model year when the IIHS gave the Nissan its coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating for the first time. The Murano isn’t the highest-rated model in its class for safety but it’s certainly not the worst, so I’d say there isn’t anything to worry about at all with the Murano in this area.

Is the Nissan Murano fast?

The Murano isn’t particularly fast by some of today’s SUV standards, but always being powered by V-6 engines means every model is fast enough. Most versions can get you from 0 to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds and some versions have managed to get that time down closer to 7 seconds.

What are the Nissan Murano competitors?

The main competition for the Nissan Murano includes the Ford Edge, Honda Passport, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Mazda CX-9. You might also want to consider the Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Tiguan, and possibly even the Toyota Venza.

Is the Nissan Murano comfortable?

The interior of the first-generation Murano isn’t the most impressively appointed and it’s not the most comfortable in its class either, but the situation certainly got better with the second-generation in 2009. There’s a decent amount of head and legroom in the second-gen Murano and the seats are comfortable, if not exactly luxurious.

If you’d like the most comfortable Nissan Murano you’ll need to get a third-generation model as Nissan really upped its game with the Murano interior from 2015 onwards. Thecarconnection.com website said of the third-gen in 2015, “With impressive ride comfort, a quiet cabin, and uncommonly comfortable seating for those in back, the 2015 Nissan Murano is a great pick for those who have traveling companions.”

What’s the highest trim level of Nissan Murano?

The Murano LE was the top trim level in the early days of the Murano but these days the top trim level is the Platinum. If you’d like to know exactly what trim levels had what features over the years to help with choosing the right used Nissan Murano for you, here are Murano brochures in pdf file format from 2009 to the 2021 model year to download for free.

How much should you pay for a used Nissan Murano?

You can get a first-generation Nissan Murano for less than $2,000, but I’d suggest that good ones start from closer to $5,000. For around $6,000 you can get a used Murano that still looks good and will still have some life left in it, but stay away from cheap examples with more than 150,000 miles.

Here’s a table showing the minimum and maximum prices you should expect to pay for each model year based on vehicles in decent condition for their age and the range of trim levels.

Model YearMinimum Used PriceMaximum Used Price

If you’d like the opportunity to buy a used Nissan Murano or any number of other used vehicles at incredible prices then you really should check out government auctions. These are auctions where federal and local authorities dispose of the vehicles they are replacing and you will also come across vehicles confiscated from criminal enterprises, and you can find out where and when they’re being held by subscribing.

2019 Nissan Murano
2019 Nissan Murano

Should you buy a used Nissan Murano?

I think the best value to be had with a new Nissan Murano is to be found with first-generation models. If you want a midsize crossover SUV that looks good, stands out from the crowd and you don’t want to spend a lot of money then you can put a first-gen Murano outside your house and still look at it proudly.

The second-generation models are probably better vehicles, but at this stage in Murano’s lifespan, I’d say there are much better and much better-looking rivals you should buy instead.

Third-gen models are definitely the best in terms of being good all-round SUVs and they’re much more attractive and desirable than second-gen Muranos, but once again, I’d suggest there are plenty of alternatives that are better for similar or less money.

The latest Murano does stand out from the midsize crowd more than most and there aren’t as many of them around as some rivals, but there are better alternatives you could buy instead.