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Heels on Wheels: 2012 Nissan Murano Review


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2012 Nissan Murano

HEELS ON WHEELS: 2012 NISSAN MURANO REVIEW
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE MURANO VEHICLE
The Nissan Murano is a five-passenger crossover welding utility performance, a sedan-like ride and something savvier that what’s found on the smaller CUVs. The Murano receives much popularity for hitting its mark as that stylish, risk-adverse choice for drivers hesitant to pull the trigger when contemplating the leap from a light-duty car into a vehicle with more bulk.

I drove a 2012 Nissan Murano with the standard 260-horsepower 3.5-liter Dual Overhead Cam V6 engine with 240 pound-feet of torque, Intelligent Xtronic CVT and front wheel drive (all-wheel drive is optional). My very equipped Murano SL trim – from a lineup that includes the base S, SV, SL, LE and the new CrossCabriolet – came with the following standard equipment: Bluetooth connectivity; leather upholstery with heated and powered front seats; and upgraded nine-speaker Bose audio system; XM Radio; push-button start; dual-zone climate control; dual panel moonroof; and an automatic remote liftgate. With a $1,850 navigation package that includes a seven-inch monitor featuring voice-recognition and touch-screen technology, total vehicle price came to $38,445.

Changes for the model year are minor. Like-minded and similarly styled competitors include the Ford Edge, Toyota Venza and Hyundai Veracruz.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: One of the Murano’s major interior highlights – aside of firm and supportive seating that will have your rear passengers enthralled – is the very intuitive infotainment system that features the complexity of layered screen commands while remaining quick to navigate through. The dual moonroof, push-button start, remote liftgate and dark cabin and leather color scheme for the SL trim are must-have conveniences not to be skipped over. Steering wheel adjustment is woefully limited. In regards to exterior style, the Edge and Venza do a more dazzling dance with twisted metal than the sedate Murano.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Murano ratings of “Good” in frontal offset and side impact crash tests, but roof strength of just “Moderate.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found the Murano capable of earning an overall rating of 4-Stars. The Murano features your usual list of standard safety equipment like a traction control system, advanced airbags, LATCH, but doesn’t really feature any additional safety options like a blind side monitoring system found on the Edge.

Cost Issues: Although the base S starts at $29,960, to be satisfied I recommend the higher-end SL trim. If you’re looking to spend less, I would step down from this snazzier mid-size class and go with more economical and smaller crossovers like the Kia Sportage and Honda CR-V for real value (but less space).

Activity & Performance Ability: The Murano’s road agility – which shines under strenuous handling especially at the steering wheel – and a Continuously Variable Transmission that doesn’t endlessly whine are defining performance highlights. Most of the Murano’s adventuring will take place in busy mall parking lots, and here maneuverability isn’t as deft as I’d like it to be as the crossover’s dimensions – further plagued by limited rear visibility – require constant thought. Hence the grand price of $38,445 with all the necessary accoutrements to feel content in your classier mid-size crossover.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy for the Murano’s 3.5-liter V6 engine is 18 miles-per-gallon city and 24 highway for a combined 20 without all-wheel drive. To be more competitive, Nissan should consider giving the Murano a powerful and efficient turbo like the Edge’s four-cylinder EcoBoost that delivers V6 performance but at a combined fuel economy of 24 MPG.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The only risk associated with the 2012 Nissan Murano is the offset chance several competitors can come off as slightly more refined. Otherwise, the agility and modern conveniences offered make drivers feel this mid-size crossover captures the best in car-like comfort and sport utility performance.

©2012 Katrina Ramser