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Heels on Wheels: 2015 Nissan Murano Review


PHOTO
2015 Nissan Murano

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

INTRO TO THE MURANO VEHICLE
Welding utility performance and crossover convenience, the redesigned mid-size Murano turns up the luxury and styling for 2015 to create a take-notice SUV that actually outshines many fancier nameplates. Existing in a very competitive class, I would slot the Murano near the top of your shopping list.

I drove a 2015 Nissan Murano with the standard 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with 240 pound-feet of torque, an Xtronic CVT transmission, and optional all-wheel drive. Available in four trim grades – the base S, SV, SL and Platinum – my fully loaded Murano Platinum came with the following standard features: NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats; heated and powered front seats with lumbar support; leather upholstery; upgraded nine-speaker Bose audio system; Bluetooth connectivity; XM Radio; NissanConnect with navigation and apps; eight-inch multi-information display; seven-inch advanced drive-assist display; remote engine start; push-button start; dual-zone climate control; roof rails; fog lights; LED head and taillights; twenty-inch wheels; and an automatic remote liftgate. Total vehicle price as described came to $40,600.

Always impressive and pleasing, the Murano is positioned next to like-minded and similarly styled competitors such as the redesigned Ford Edge and Toyota Venza; however, the increased level of luxury and comfort now puts this vehicle on par with the Lexus RX350 and Acura MDX.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The sleeker and more aerodynamic shape gives the Murano a more modern feel, and that quality extends inward beginning with the NASA-inspired seats that are as finely crafted as they are comfortable – in fact, the cream leather combined with the wood inlay trim contrasted against the black instrument panel delivers overall better fit-and-finish than what I’ve recently experienced with the Lexus RX line and Acura MDX. My test drive also featured a $2,260 Technology Package (moonroof, cruise control, Forward Collision Warning).

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 continues to earn just “Moderate.” Note the Pathfinder and Rogue are both Top Safety Picks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the model year as of this review. The Murano features your usual list of standard safety equipment Murano like anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, hill-start assist, and an advanced airbag system and a rearview camera. Forward Collision Warning is an option.

Cost Issues: Although the base S starts at $29,560, to be really wowed with a Nissan I recommend the Titanium trim that priced out with options at $43,070. That’s a bargain next to the $53,430 fully loaded 2015 Lexus RX 350 test drive I had before the Murano – and as I stated before, I was more impressed with the Murano’s take on the interior.

Activity & Performance Ability: Nissan might have given the Murano a whole new stylish shape and attitude, but the powertrain stats have remained the same. Not that the Murano lacked in road agility – any Nissan V6 has always shone under strenuous handling and as a highway ride, this will be your best workhorse yet. Most as far as tight parking lots, maneuverability is limited and doesn’t necessarily addresses dimensions as well as I’d like.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy for the Murano’s 3.5-liter V6 engine has improved and is now 21 miles-per-gallon city and 28 highway for a combined claim of 24 with all-wheel drive. Now that’s a draw. However, real-life fuel economy averaged just 20.2 combined for my equally mixed driving – still noticeable for a V6, but not what the packaged promised.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2015 Nissan Murano makes a solid effort to attract shoppers in the competitive mid-size SUV class by crafting an extremely appealing top-of-the-line trim, toting unique features like NASA-inspired seats and soft-touch materials more impressive than what you can find on many fancier nameplates. You likely won’t get 24 miles-per-gallon combined with all-wheel drive as claimed, but you will average better than most V6 engines.

©2015 Katrina Ramser