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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2010 NISSAN MURANO REVIEW


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2010 Nissan Murano

See Also: Nissan Buyers Guide
See Also: E-Carmony: Is The Nissan Murano Your Perfect Match?


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE MURANO VEHICLE

The 2-row, 5-passenger Murano remains a popular crossover vehicle for a very simple reason: it has the driving characteristics of a car but the space benefits of an SUV. The Murano is known for having a roomy, car-like second row and a surprisingly generous rear cargo area.

I drove a 2010 Nissan Murano is the base S trim starting at $28,340 and featuring simple standards like 18-inch wheels, a 6-CD audio system, dual climate control and a push-button ignition. The vehicle is powered by a 265-horspower 3.5-liter DOCH 24-valve V6 engine with 248 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. The advanced Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) transfers power by choosing the best or lowest gear ratios and rpm to create one of the smoothest and most comfortable automatic transmission systems on the market. The Murano also comes in a mid-level SL trim ($30,460) and a more luxurious LE trim ($37,100).

Originally introduced six years ago, the Nissan gave the Murano a significant redesign last year to enhance interior, exterior and performance components. Therefore the 2010 model gets just the icing on the cake in the form of more standard equipment for the various trims such as roof rails for the SL and the Dual Panel Moonroof for the LE. But I would say purchasing either this year’s model or last year’s model would make anyone a happy Murano owner.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The best thing about the Murano is that you don’t have to move up a trim or load it down with expensive optional packages to like it. Nissan primarily does this by using higher quality materials for both the seating and surfaces, followed by excellent construction and use of space. The driver’s seat is positioned perfectly for maximum visibility with a headrest that is supportive to the neck. The second row is designed much like a sofa with the ability to slightly recline. If you do step it up, I’d go with the SL trim’s 360-degree Value Package for a total vehicle price of $34,250, which comes with a Dual Panel Moonroof, Bluetooth capability, an interface system for an iPod and unique roof rails and alloy wheels.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2010 Nissan Murano a top rating of Good performance in frontal, side impact and rear crash protection tests. However, roof strength tests received Marginal ratings. The vehicle earned five-star crash ratings in side driver and side rear passenger from the National Highway Safety Transportation Association (NHSTA) with four-star crash ratings in rollover and frontal driver and passenger. J.D. Power and Associates awarded the crossover just three out of five stars for Predicted Reliability. The 2010 Nissan Murano is a recommended vehicle by Consumer Reports although Reliability is also cited as average.

Cost Issues: The base Murano S trim will keep passengers happy and allow plenty of cargo room for a weekend getaway for just $28,340.

Activity & Performance Ability: After a half’s day journey, there were no comfort complaints from my four passengers. The Murano’s powertrain stayed aggressive during quick highway maneuvers and on inclined city streets. Brakes were responsive and commanding. The advanced Xtronic CVT is an excellent replacement to a conventional transmission; even with the gas pedal pushed to the floor, the Murano still delivered a satisfying surge forward while the gears searched for the perfect ratio to match each climbing power demand. The Murano also has a very intuitive advanced all-wheel drive system that adjusts to road conditions in a tenth of a second. The standard four-wheel independent suspension adds to create this perfectly predictable ride. The only driving complaint is a very small rear glass window that makes visibility troublesome when backing up.

The Green Concern: The Murano accurately achieves an average of 20 mpg. Fuel economy estimates are the same for either drivetrain (FWD or AWD) at 18 mpg city and 23 mpg.

FINAL PARTING WORDS

Nissan has perfected this cornerstone crossover so my advice has more to do with choosing the best trim and drivetrain, which is either the base Murano S or the Murano SL with the 360-degree Value Package – both with AWD since fuel estimates are the same at 20 mpg. Enjoy!

©2010 Katrina Ramser