The Nissan Murano arrived in 2003 and it ushered in a new era for Nissan. It was Nissan’s first crossover for the States, and it was supposed to be a more luxurious alternative to the utilitarian products the company offered like the Xterra. It used the same VQ engine that is found in the Maxima and the 350Z, and it was offered with AWD. In 2007 Nissan introduced the second-generation car that was more luxurious, had a pile more standard and available features, and it had some nicer looks. I had a chance to review a 2012 model and I thought it was wonderful to drive. While it was pretty, it didn’t stand out much from the competition, and the available equipment was only on par.

Now for 2015 Nissan has bestowed upon the world an all-new Murano, and it is the mot radical change Nissan has made to any of its models in about it a decade. It makes use of an all-new design that looks to set the future design direction for the whole company, and it looks like a concept car that accidentally hit showrooms. New interior design, a modified CVT transmission, and new standard and optional equipment all come together to create a crossover that is not only the best in Nissan’s lineup, but potentially the best one on sale today.

Nissan gave me the chance to spend a whole week with one of these new five-door family haulers to see if it still drives as good as the old one.

Continue reading to learn more about the all-new 2015 Nissan Murano

  • 2014 Nissan Murano - Driven
  • Year:
    2014
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Transmission:
    Xtronic CVT
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    260
  • MPG(Cty):
    21
  • MPG(Hwy):
    28
  • Torque @ RPM:
    240
  • Displacement:
    3.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.8 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    140 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front engine/ FWD
  • Price:
    36950
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2014 Nissan Murano - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 611988
2014 Nissan Murano - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 611996
2014 Nissan Murano - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 611995

When it comes to the looks of the new 2015 Murano, Nissan has created an abstract, stunning and all together beautiful machine that sets the course for every Nissan yet to come. The nose is a mix of fluid shapes and crisp lines. The grille is surrounded but the large chrome ‘V” you see on other Nissan models like the Pathfinder, but rather than the bland plastic honeycomb material that fills the grille, the Murano has a decreasing set of internally nested “V”s in gloss black that mimic the shape of the chrome bit. Outside that, there is more black chrome trimming with cut vents. The V shaping continues with the headlamps, but this is a fairly common trait on most new Nissans.

The lower fascia of the nose has deep cuts on both sides that hold large trapezoidal openings for the fog light housings, below that there are graceful chrome wings on the outside, and then lower center there is a large cooling vent with a lower front lip to reduce drag. That lower grille also features an active shutter to reduce drag further and increase fuel economy on the highway.

It is the kind of design that you would see on a concept car

While the front end looks great, the profile of the new Murano is even more amazing and attractive thanks to is marvelous “floating roof.” Nissan has surrounded the windows with a thick chrome ring that follows the shape of the glass through all of its kinks and bends, but at the back, there is a open cut. See the D-pillar and rear wing are blacked out, making it look like the roof and fenders don’t actually touch, giving the presentation that the top of the car is just floating there. It is the kind of design that you would see on a concept car, but one that would be deemed too risky for a production car. It was a perilous move on Nissan’s part, but I think it paid off in spades.

2014 Nissan Murano - Driven Exterior
- image 611982
2014 Nissan Murano - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 611975
2014 Nissan Murano - Driven Exterior
- image 611993

The rest of the car’s profile is far from boring as the fenders and doors feature deep cuts and sculpting with a large plastic side skirt that has chrome trim were it meets the door. As a final touch there are satin finished roof bars that run the length of the top.

Nissan even found a way to make the rear of the new Murano look great. The dark rear spoiler wraps around in an elegant fashion that looks sporty while reducing drag. The swoops and cuts from the side of the car carry on to the back and all gather towards the center line in a collection of gentle arches. More chrome trim cleaves the back in half to separate the dark bumper from the body-colored panels. A pair of large oval exhausts finish the lower flanks. The best part is the tail lights though. The same V shape from the front lamps are found here in the back, but the cuts are longer, and the combination of chrome and red interlaced Vs add an unsurpassed level of dynamism to the lighting.

Even wrapped in the handsome, but subtle, Arctic Blue Metallic paint this crossover garnered heaps of double takes, questions, and compliments. With the possible exception of the 911, this may just be the most attractive car I have driven in the last 12 months.

Interior

2014 Nissan Murano - Driven Interior
- image 612011
2014 Nissan Murano - Driven Interior
- image 612019
2014 Nissan Murano - Driven Interior
- image 612015

The inside of the new Murano is equally attractive, but it lacks some of the visual impact provided by the outside. That said, there is still plenty to like. The largest and most noticeable change to the interior is the trim on the dash and door panels. Nissan has used a plastic trim that almost looks like fake brushed aluminum. On closer inspection though, you can see that the texture looks like wood. It’s basically a plastic interpretation of metallic wood grain, and it looks amazing. When you combine the interesting texture with the huge pieces Nissan has integrated into the doors and center console it makes the interior feel very modern. The silver trim also frames the front of the cabin as it arches up smoothly towards the windshield. This draws the eyes forward, segments the cockpit and makes everything feel a bit more open.

The inside of the new Murano is equally attractive, but it lacks some of the visual impact provided by the outside

Other interesting touches for the interior include the deep carving and shaping of the dash materials. To keep the design flowing front side to out, you will notice that the silver plastic surround of the center controls mimics the shape of the grille surround, and the lateral vents on the dash are in trapezoidal openings that mimic the fog light housings. The gauge cluster rather than being enclosed in a plastic cave like most cars instead features a large leather-covered panel that appears to hover over the binnacle to keep harsh light out. It features the same leather and stitching as the seats.

On the luxury front, my tester came with leather on the seats, steering wheel, arm rests and door panels. The color pallet for the Murano is stylish and contemporary with Mocha leather, black dash materials, the silver trim pieces and the beige headliner. To help add that extra touch of style, the seats are held together with a bronze stitching that contrasts the leather, but matches well with the overall color pallet.

2014 Nissan Murano - Driven Interior
- image 612010
2014 Nissan Murano - Driven Interior
- image 612009
2014 Nissan Murano - Driven Interior
- image 612006

Technology equipment on this SL tester includes an eight inch center infotainment unit with NissanConnect apps, satellite navigation, SiriusXM radio, and more. Nissan’s fancy AroundView camera tech is here, along with adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and remote engine start. For the realty cold days, the Murano has heated seats and a very effective dual-zone automatic climate control system. There is also a huge panoramic sunroof overhead to fill the cabin with light. When the darkness of night arrives, the bright gauges and subtle accent lighting make the cabin still feel cozy.

The Murano beats out the Ford Edge and Jeep Grand Cherokee in terms of cargo space

The seats are comfortable with plenty of room for adults in the front or back. While the front seats use Nissan’s “Zero Gravity” seat design that debuted a few years ago on the Altima, the Murano uses the same technology for the rear seats as well to make sure back seat passengers experience class-leading comfort. In a nod to the current state of our society and our love of gadgets, Nissan included a USB port for the rear seats to charge devices. Those rear seats don’t slide, but they do recline and the fold down center armrest garnered praise from many passengers for its high level of padding.

Behind those seats is one of the largest cargo holds in the segment. At 39.6 cubic feet of space, the Murano beats out names like Ford Edge and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Fold those seats down and you have access to 70 cubic feet of room.

Drivetrain


This six cylinder engine is good for 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of twist

Powering the Murano is the same venerable 3.5-liter V-6 the car has relied on since its inception. In its current iteration this six cylinder engine is good for 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of twist. The Murano comes exclusively with the latest version of Nissan’s Xtronic transmission. Nissan has added something it calls “D-Step Logic” that makes the CVT feel much more like a traditional automatic, and it really improves the drive. The CVT is here to help with fuel economy, and it certainly delivered on paper. The new Murano is rated for 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. That is an improvement of nearly 20-percent over the previous model. The transmission is not the only thing responsible for the increased fuel economy. Thanks to a use of more advanced materials, the new Murano is 175 pounds lighter than the old model, and that new body is very aerodynamically efficient.

During my time with the Murano I was seeing fuel economy numbers around the 24 mpg range which makes it comparative to many competitors, but it’s not amazing. Nissan does offer the Murano for sale with all-wheel drive, but my tester was just a FWD model.

Chassis

2014 Nissan Murano - Driven Exterior
- image 611980

One of the best parts of the old Murano was how well it drove. Nissan is hoping to retain that characteristic with the new model. The suspension is a four-wheel independent setup with struts up front and a multi-link design in the back. This should make for a ride that is comfortable but responsive. Braking is taken care of thanks to a full four-wheel ABS braking setup

To keep you from crashing your new crossover, the Murano is sold with blind spot monitoring, collision alert, adaptive cruise control and forward emergency braking. Tied to the cars AroundView monitor system for reversing there is a rear cross traffic alert too.

Price

2014 Nissan Murano - Driven Emblems and Logo Exterior
- image 612030

This test car sadly did not come with an official pricing sticker, so I had to take my time and play with the builder tool on the Nissan USA’s website. This appears to cover every option that my car had, so the pricing should be pretty exact. To pick up a base Murano you will need $29,560 to snag a brand new one. If you want the more luxurious SL trim like mine, the price jumps to $36,950. My only options were the $2,260 SL technology package and the floor mats and cargo protector which carried a price of just $210. After the $885 destination fee, I am looking at $40,305 to take this thing home.

Driving Impressions

2014 Nissan Murano - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 611988

For a crossover, I loved the way the old Murano drove. It was comfortable and stable at speed, while managing to not feel like it was going to roll over every time you hit a turn. The new car carries on the tradition of being a great thing to drive, even if it does feel a bit softer than I remember the old car being. The steering wheel is light, but the car changes direction quickly, and the large wheel feels good to hold in the hands. The buttons on the wheel that control the various functions of the infotainment and safety systems are smartly positioned and easy to use. It took me just a few seconds to get acclimated to where they all resided.

If you can be careful with your weight distribution, you can really fling that thing around a few bends

If you are feeling frisky and decide to throw the Murano into a corner you will get some lean, but the body motions are minor compared to the car’s size. Understeer will appear in spades if you really push it, but I had to really lean on that thing hard to get it to start misbehaving. Nissan has done wonders with the chassis under that sleek new body. If you can be careful with your weight distribution, you can really fling that thing around a few bends. I see no reason why anyone under normal circumstances should ever reach the limits of the new Murano’s mechanical grip.

Power from that 3.5-liter V-6 is not astonishing, but thanks to the CVT’s ability to keep it in the thick of the torque curve, it never feels inadequate. Acceleration is as brisk as you will get in most of the competition, and thanks to the huge spacing in the ratio belt, at highway speeds the car is barely turning any revs which helps fuel economy and NVH. It’s a good thing too, as this engine may be smooth and relatively powerful, it sounds a bit harsh in the higher registers.

Like all recent Nissans, the included safety tech like blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control work flawlessly with no serious issues in controlling, altering or disabling them. The AroundView monitor system is just as amazing as it used to be, and now it features moving object detection to prevent you from potentially running into someone who may be walking behind the thing.

If there is anything the Murano doesn’t excel at, I couldn’t find it. One highway cruises it was a great companion of comfort and refinement, when things got twisty it handled the road with aplomb, and every single passenger that got in it commented on how comfortable it was, how quiet it was, and how much space there was inside. The exterior looks did generate some negative buzz when I first posted photos of it on my various social media profiles, but everyone who saw it in person was taken aback by just how pretty it is in the flesh. Even the paint is stunning with its deep metallic gloss that makes it change colors ever so slightly when the light hits it.

The navigation unit worked great, the climate control actually kept the cabin a comfortable temperature, and the 11-speaker Bose stereo was up to the task of filling the cabin with any kind of music I could throw at it. There could still be some improvements to the sound as it’s a bit muddy at times, but it sounded better than I expected from a car in this class.

Competitors

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 574537

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is one of my favorites from the current crop of two-row family crossovers. It looks great, has a powerful turbo engine, and plenty of options for a great price. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is just slightly more powerful than the Murano’s V-6 at 265 horsepower, but with a highway fuel economy rating of just 27 mpg, it falls behind the Nissan at the pump.

From a pricing perspective, you can get a similarly equipped Santa Fe Sport Turbo for about $36,400, or $4k less than the Nissan. While you save some money with the Santa Fe Sport, the Murano is nicer inside, rides better, handles better, and has better NVH. The Hyundai hits back with extra options like ventilated front seats and a larger sunroof opening.

If it was my money, I would have a very hard time taking the Santa Fe over the Murano unless there were some serious pricing incentives from the dealer. I just like the driving feel and higher level of luxury that is found in the new Nissan. Plus I still can’t get over how much better the Murano looks in comparison to the Santa Fe.

Acura RDX

2015 Acura RDX High Resolution Exterior
- image 547542

Acura gets a lot of flak for failing to change, upgrade, and innovate fast enough, but if you want a solid luxury SUV with reputable handling and a good collection of technology, the luxury division of Honda is a good place to start. While the RDX makes use of a 3.5-liter V-6 engine just like the Murano, Honda’s engineers have squeezed extra power from the mill to the tune of 273 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. One big downside of this powerful engine is that Honda recommends you fill it with premium; not an issue with the Murano. The RDX does still manage to match the Murano’s 28 mpg highway rating, so there shouldn’t be much extra fuel cost for the extra power, aside from the jump to premium.

On the equipment and pricing front, the RDX is a touch a cheaper (about $1,100) than the Murano when comparably equipped, but some of those features don’t quite match up. For example, both cars have a sunroof, but the Murano’s panoramic sheet of glass far outshines the RDX’s small sunroof panel. With just 26.1 cubes of cargo behind the rear seats, the RDX also loses out in practicality.

Conclusion

2014 Nissan Murano - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 612001

The old Nissan Murano was one of my favorite crossovers. The all-new 2015 Murano improves on the old model is almost every single way to create a wonderfully usable crossover that doesn’t suck to drive. It has looks that feel modern and futuristic, it has one of the largest cargo areas in its class, is available with an incredible list of equipment, and it manages to stay competitively priced. Nissan didn’t just create the best Murano ever with this new model; they may have just created the best overall crossover on sale today. Comfortable, well equipped and just enough handling ability to be entertaining. If you are looking for a crossover on the more luxurious side of things, I see no reason why the 2015 Nissan Murano shouldn’t be on your must-drive list.

  • Leave it
    • * CVT can still drone under hard acceleration
    • * Fuel economy is just average, not exceptional
    • * Swooping roof line makes larger blind spots
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: