Motoring: Meandering in the Murano
Taking a look inside the Nissan Murano.
Before the Murano, there were some vehicles that could have been called crossovers, but the manufacturers tried to push them off as SUVs.
The marketing guys at Nissan did the right thing and not only got the buying public used to the idea of a CUV (crossover utility vehicle), but so did the other manufacturers who started offering CUVs.
You see, a CUV blends elements from a few vehicles. It is part station- wagon, part SUV and part minivan. Station wagons and minivans have been uncool for the longest time, while SUVs started getting a bad reputation for their awful ride quality and thirsty fuel consumption.
For most buyers, a CUV made sense because it was practical, looked cool and, thanks to their high ground clearance and all-wheel drive, they made great year-round vehicles.
The original Murano offered pretty much everything, and it brought along a new feature: a CVT gearbox.
CVT is a continuously variable transmission, which means that you don't get any shift-shock from the transmission as it works its way up the gears.
Personally, I hated this gearbox. It felt unnatural, like a sewing machine, or a single-speed moped, and while Nissan said this gearbox would help improve fuel economy, in reality it didn't.
But that was then — how is the current Murano, the one that has been on sale for a few years already?
For a start, it still has a CVT gearbox, to which they have thankfully made some improvements. I would have still preferred a much more conventional six-speed automatic gearbox instead, but this latest generation CVT is not bad, and if I can get used to it, so can you. The fuel efficiency has improved also, as my week's average was 11.4 litres/100km, which is very respectable for a vehicle of this size.
The Murano also has a very good engine. It's the familiar 3.5- litre V6 you get in pretty much all of Nissan's vehicles, from the Altima to the latest Pathfinder. In the Murano, however, it produces 260hp, which is plenty for most occasions. Its all-wheel drive system coupled with 240lb/ft of twisting torque enables this vehicle to accelerate from zero to 100km/h in around the eight-second mark, which is not bad at all. I just wish the CVT gearbox didn't whine like a generator when under hard acceleration.
If you ignore the gearbox, which can be pretty hard at times, the Murano is a good vehicle. The ride is comfortable, the seats are fantastic, the interior layout is superb, the quality of the fit and finish is excellent, and you get plenty of gadgets in it too (including a heated steering wheel, as on my Platinum edition tester).
As for the styling, I don't mind it, but it looks like two different people were assigned to design this vehicle: one did the front, the other did the back. The guy who did the front was very bold and imaginative and came up with a face that features chromed “teeth” on its grille. However, the guy who did the back just photocopied the rear of the smaller Nissan Rogue and grafted it on here.
Pricing for the Murano starts from $34,498 to nearly $48,000, so when compared to its competition, it offers good value for money.
If I was in the market for a luxurious CUV, I would seriously be looking at the Murano. However, I'd be looking at a different version of the Murano, a model that is not available in Canada. I'm referring to the Murano CrossCabriolet. This is a unique, convertible version of the Murano, which is currently only available to our friends in America. You can, however, import one of these into Canada, and plenty of Nissan dealerships have done that. I took one on a short drive and loved its cheerful personality. It might not appeal to everyone, but I just love the fact that a big manufacturer like Nissan has a sense of humour and did a model not for the mass market, but just to have something different.
Nissan Canada, if you're listening, can we get the CrossCabriolet officially in Canada, even as a oneyear, limited edition model? I think it'll be worth your effort.