It’s no secret that SUVs have been following an evolutionary path from rugged off roaders to all-weather family haulers. But that steady progression sped up a little when the unexpectedly refined and stylish Nissan Murano arrived for 2003. Now midway through its 3rd generation, does Murano still have the power to shake things up?
The Nissan Murano was one of the first utilities to really embrace its crossover status. Instead of loading it up with off-road hardware, or tacking on rugged-looking cladding; Nissan packed it full of comfort and luxury, and wrapped it in sleek, modern packaging. And that theme continues for 2019.
It’s not all-new, but Nissan has spread a healthy dose of updates both inside and out to keep appeal high, and attract eyes away from attention grabbing entries in the segment like the Chevrolet Blazer, revised Ford Edge, and reborn Honda Passport.
A new front fascia includes a more exaggerated version of Nissan’s V-motion grille. On either side, are redesigned LED headlights, as well as different LED fog lamps. Fresh lighting in back as well; while new wheel choices, and some additional paint colors, round out the updates.
There are updated materials inside, but it’s here in top Platinum where you’ll see the biggest transformation, attempting to make it worthy of the name. That mostly means new Bentley-flavored quilted leather seats and door panels.
So it’s up a notch from already being one of the most comfortable midsize crossovers you can buy; with front and rear seating that welcomes you better than the majority of luxury utilities.
Though it’s not one of the most cargo capable. Behind the motion activated power lift gate, load space is decent. At 32.1 cubic-ft., expanding to 67.0 with the rear seat backs folded. But, Murano towing maxes out at only 1,500–lbs.
Nissan Connect infotainment, with multi-touch control, continues to get better and better.
Finally, there are new standard 2nd row side airbags; and updates for safety systems include available Nissan Safety Shield 360, which features both front and rear automatic emergency braking.
No hard choices to make when it comes to powertrains. All Muranos are fitted with a carryover 3.5-liter V6 with 260-horsepower and 240 lb-ft. of torque.
Standard flow is to the front wheels through Nissan’s Xtronic CVT transmission; intelligent all-wheel-drive is available with all trims.
Having traction at all four tires helped us get off the line cleanly, if a little slowly, hitting 60 in 7.4–seconds. The CVT keeps it from being the quietest ute around, but it does a good job of keeping the 3.5-liter in the heart of its power band.
And it moves quite well through the ¼-mile; feeling solid, finishing the pass in 15.7–seconds at 90 miles-per-hour.
The comfort-first priority of the suspension was readily apparent in our slalom. The Murano is soft and wallowy; and just when you think you really get a sense of what’s going on through the over-boosted steering, the overanxious traction nannies step in and take over.
None of these are complaints, really, and it does make the Murano genuinely family friendly and safe. There is still plenty of room in the SUV field for one with a plush and luxurious ride. It is a bit of a throwback to a time before every SUV felt a need to handle like a BMW; or at least deliver a stiff enough ride to fool you into thinking it does.
Most impressive of all Murano performance was braking. Stops from 60 averaged just 101–feet; with excellent consistency and minimum fade.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for all models are 20-City, 28-Highway, and 23-Combined. Our average; right on, at 23.7 miles-per-gallon of Regular. That’s an average Energy Impact Score, with consumption of 14.3-barrels of oil and C02 emissions of 6.4-tons annually.
Murano’s base S trim starts at $32,315, ranging through four trim levels to arrive at our Platinum tester, which starts at $44,575; all-wheel-drive adds $1,600 more.
After years of carmakers going all-in with SUVs that looked rugged, while they were actually bluffing; Nissan proved with the Murano, that such tactics weren’t really necessary. Most people are just looking for some all-weather capability, and a high seating position, with plenty of comfort and style. The 2019 Nissan Murano delivers that better than ever; and will continue to be a winning hand for Nissan, no matter what the competition lays on the table.
Engine: 3.5 liter
Torque: 240 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.4 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.7 seconds @ 90 mph
EPA: 20 mpg city / 28 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 14.3 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.4 tons/yr