An SUV that covers all the bases well but doesn’t excel in any of them

The Nissan Murano has been around for quite some time now and is fairly popular in the market. It isn’t the best-selling SUV in the segment, but it rakes in decent sales numbers for the Japanese automaker.

Named after an Italian city, the Murano slots between the Rogue and the Pathfinder in Nissan’s lineup. The Murano’s last generation change came back in 2015, which means the next-gen is on the horizon. The company has given the SUV a few facelifts that make it look fresh, though. The Murano arrived at TopSpeed’s HQ recently, and here are our impressions about this SUV.

Nissan Murano Driving Impressions

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The Nissan Murano comes with a single-engine option – a 3.5-liter, V-6 mill that makes 260 horses and 240 pound-feet of torque.

It comes with a front-wheel-drive configuration as standard, but all-wheel-drive is optional. Unless you put the pedal to the metal, the power seems sufficient. However, the CVT just makes things worse. The engine is smooth and refined, but the transmission feels rubbery and takes out all the fun. It even has the infamous rubber-band effect. As long as you go easy on the A-pedal, you won’t have any complaints. But, if you create a sense of urgency and try to unleash all of the horses at your disposal, you will be disappointed.

The suspension is soft and supple, which is good for the passengers during long journeys. The suspension damping is also taken care of very well. On highways, the Murano’s steering wheel weighs up well and the system itself offers good feedback to the driver. It is fairly light and easy to operate when puttering around the city or cautiously driving at parking speeds. The overall handling is good and the body roll is contained as well.

Overall, the Murano is a good urban commuter and can munch miles on the highway with ease. But, if you have an adrenaline rush and get adventurous with the Murano, it won’t reciprocate and will expect you to drive it in its comfort zone.

How Fast Is The Nissan Murano?

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The Nissan Murano is not the quickest vehicle out there. It takes 7.5 seconds to hit the 60 mph from a standstill. It weighs 4,068 pounds and isn’t one of the heaviest SUVs in the segment, but you can point your fingers at the CVT for the slow performance. The top speed is rated at 130 mph.

Nissan Murano Fuel Economy

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The Murano is one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs in the segment today. The fuel economy is rated at 20 miles per gallon in the city, 28 miles per gallon on the highway, and 23 miles per gallon combined. In comparison, the Highlander delivers 19 mpg in the city, 26 on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. The Acura RDX’s fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg combined.

The ratings are the same for the front-wheel-drive as well as the all-wheel-drive models. The Murano fuel tank is also the biggest when compared to its rivals. It comes with a 19-gallon tank, whereas the Highlander and the RDX come with 17.9- and 17.1-gallon tanks respectively.

How Much Can The Nissan Murano Tow?

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The Nissan Murano can tow 1,500 pounds. The Acura RDX is also rated the same. But, the Highlander takes the cake here. The Toyota product’s towing capacity is rated at 5,000 pounds! If towing capacity ranks at the top of the list for you, then the Highlander is a no-brainer. The Highlander’s younger sibling, the newly launched Venza, can tow up to 3,500 pounds. Nissan needs to up the ante with its next update as people are adapting the adventurous lifestyle more often than before.

Nissan Murano Exterior Design

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The Nissan Murano is a stylish vehicle and there’s no doubt about that. The SUV looks sharp and bold from all the angles. Up front, you have the trademark chrome V-Motion grille that makes it unmistakably Nissan. The black honeycomb detailing behind it looks neat as well. The bumper is quite busy with a lot of cuts and creases, and different elements all around. Tiny square LED fog lights are placed in a housing surrounded by the honeycomb grille elements. The huge air dam at the bottom is complemented with a chrome streak that runs across the bumper. The pointy, triangle headlights come with integrated Daytime Running LEDs that are bright even under sunlight.

When viewed from the side, the bumper protrudes out sharply. It looks proportionate overall, but it feels very curvy and rounded. In the top trim, there is generous chrome applique. The bling is there on the window sill, on the door strip, and the door handles. The wheels look smart and range from 18 inches to 20 inches, depending on the trim.

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If not for the boomerang-shaped taillights, the Murano looks boxy from the rear. More than half the bumper is comprised of black plastic cladding, which not only looks sporty, but is also abuse-friendly. A chrome strip is present here that gives the SUV a premium feel. Two rectangular exhaust pipes with chrome tips can also be seen on either side. Overall, this SUV has enough pizzazz to turn heads, but may seem a bit too much to people who love minimalistic designs.

How Many Colors Are Available On The Nissan Murano?

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It varies based on the trim, but in the top Platinum trim, the Murano is offered with the maximum number of colors; eight to be precise. They are:

  • Mocha Almond Pearl
  • Cayenne Red Metallic
  • Sunset Drift Chromaflair (Which is essentially the signature Nissan Orange)
  • Deep Blue Pearl
  • Super Black
  • Gun Metallic
  • Brilliant Silver Metallic
  • Pearl White Tricoat

How Big Is The Nissan Murano?

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The curvy design philosophy hides how big the Nissan Murano actually is. You realize it when you see it in person. It measures 192.8 inches in length, which is slightly less than the Toyota Highlander’s 194.9-inch length, but much longer than the Acura RDX, which is 186.7 inches long. The Murano is 75.4 inches wide and is on par with the Highlander and the RDX which measure 76 inches and 74.8 inches respectively.

2020 Nissan Murano exterior dimensions
Length 192.8 Inches
Width 75.4 Inches
Height 67.8 Inches
Wheelbase 111.2 Inches
Front Track 65.0 Inches
Rear Track 65.0 Inches

In terms of height, the Murano is slightly shorter than the Highlander but almost two inches taller than the RDX. The Murano measures 67.8 inches, the Highlander 68.1, and the RDX measures 65.7 inches. Speaking of the wheelbase, the Highlander ranks first with 112.2 inches, followed by the Murano’s 111.2 inches, and lastly the Acura RDX’s 108.3 inches. Mind you, the Highlander is a three-row SUV.

If you talk about the track width, the Murano is as balanced as it can get. Both the front and rear track measure 65 inches. The Highlander front track is 64.4 inches wide and the rear track is 64.2 inches. As for the RDX, it has a wider rear track measuring 64.7 inches compared to its front track of 64.2 inches. The unsaid benefit of a wide track is less vulnerability to body rolls and better handling around the corners.

Nissan Murano Interior Design

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The cabin of the Murano is a hit or a miss. The beige treatment with a black dash and a very busy center console with certainly draw polarizing opinions.

Some may find the design to be dated as well. The black steering wheel is chunky and feels good to hold. The controls mounted on it are spread out well. The instrument cluster is clear and easy to read even under harsh sunlight. The MID screen in between the speedometer and the tachometer throws up the drive-related data. The black leather-wrapped cowl looks nice, but since it is in contact with the beige bits of the cabin, it looks a little odd.

The wide center console is wrapped around by matte silver bezels that resembles the V-Motion grille. This portion is very cluttered. It has buttons, knobs, and a touch screen, all stuffed into one area. Other than the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, it also houses the dual-zone climate controls. Below this there is a 12V socket, and a couple of USB ports and USB C-ports. The engine start/stop button is also placed here.

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The seats are comfortable and you won’t feel any fatigue even after a long journey. The lower trims come with cloth upholstery which doesn’t look premium, but is soft and feels durable. The top-trim is available with optional leather seats. Nissan has offered Panoramic roof on the top-trim of the Murano which takes up two inches off the headroom.

Is The Nissan Murano Spacious?

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The Murano is not bad in terms of space, but better designing and engineering could’ve made it even more spacious. Take the Acura RDX, for instance. That SUV is smaller than the Murano in terms of length, width, height, and has a wheelbase three inches shorter, too. However, it offers more space in almost half the aspects despite a smaller footprint. The Murano offers 40.5 inches of legroom in the first row, whereas the Highlander and the RDX both offer 42 inches. In terms of first-row headroom, all three SUVs are evenly matched and offer roughly 40 inches.

2020 Nissan Murano interior dimensions
1st Row Headroom 39.9 Inches
1st Row Leg Room 40.5 Inches
1st Row Shoulder Room 59.5 Inches
1st Row Hip Room 55.4 Inches
2nd Row Headroom 39.8 Inches
2nd Row Leg Room 38.7 Inches
2nd Row Shoulder Room 58.9 Inches
2nd Row Hip Room 55.2 Inches

In the second row, the Murano offers 39.8 inches of headroom, which is a tad bit more than the Highlander’s and almost two inches more than the RDX. Blame the Acura’s sloping roofline for this. The Highlander offers the best legroom in the second row – 41 inches. This is surprising because it is a three-row SUV and measures almost as long as the Murano itself. This is why the third-row is cramped and best-suited for kids. The Murano offers 38.7 inches of legroom in the back and the Acura RDX 38 inches.

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Speaking of the hip room, the Murano offers 55.4 inches at the front and 55.2 inches at the back. The Highlander measures 57.2 inches at the front and 57 inches in the second row. The RDX, however, measures 55 and 50 inches at the front and back respectively. In conclusion, if the ferry more than two people often, the RDX won’t be the most comfortable pick. The Murano is well balanced in all the angles, but it could’ve been more spacious given its overall dimensions. Hopefully we’ll see the next-gen Murano pull a Chevy Tahoe kind-of-a-move and offer maximum space vis-à-vis the exterior dimensions.

Nissan Murano Technology

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The infotainment needs are taken care of by an eight-inch touchscreen system with Nissan Connect. It supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Sirius XM, and a variety of handsfree recognition systems. The only thing missing here is Amazon Alexa, which is slowly picking up pace. Murano’s newly launched rival, the Toyota Venza, has it and it will soon become a mainstream feature like the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Nissan has equipped Bose Premium Audio System in the cabin. In total, there are 11 speakers including dual subwoofers. The Murano also features Nissan’s navigation system. With all these features, the tech-heads will be happy.

Nissan Murano Cargo Room

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With all the seats in place, the Nissan Murano offers 32.1 cubic-feet of cargo space. This is more than the RDX’s 31.1 cubic-feet and the Highlander’s 16 cubic-feet. But, when you flip the second row, it offers 67 cubic-feet of space, as compared to the Acura RDX’s 79.8 cubic-feet and Highlander’s 84.3 cubic-feet. The cargo space in the Highlander is created with the second and third-row flipped.

Nissan Murano Safety

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The Nissan Murano comes with a suite of safety features and has a good NHTSA rating as well. The 2020 model received five stars from the agency in all the categories except for the rollover, where it received four stars. Automatic Emergency Braking received a ‘Superior’ rating from the IIHS and Nissan offers it as a standard feature on all the trims. The other safety features include:

  • Airbags
  • Blind-spot Monitors
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Alerts
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Active Lane Control
  • Surround-View Camera System
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Nissan Murano Pricing

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The Nissan Murano starts at $31,530. It is offered in four trims in total and each trim is available in a front-wheel-drive configuration as well as all-wheel-drive. Nissan charges $1,600 premium for the all-wheel-drive versions of all the trims. Here’s how each trim is priced:

2020 Nissan Murano prices
S FWD $31,530
S AWD $33,130
SV FWD $35,160
SV AWD $36,760
SL FWD $39,680
SL AWD $41,280
Platinum FWD $43,730
Platinum AWD $45,330

Nissan offers the Murano with the New Vehicle Limited Warranty, which includes 36-month/36,000-mile basic bumper-to-bumper coverage, and 5-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain coverage.

What Are The Optional Packages Available On The Nissan Murano?

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Nissan offers three optional packages for the Murano – Technology, Premium, and Moonroof.

The Technology Package is priced at $650 and it includes:

  • Blind Spot Warning
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection
  • Rear Automatic Braking
  • Rear Sonar System
  • Intelligent Lane Intervention
  • High Beam Assist
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The Premium Package costs $2,350 and it includes:

  • Dual Panel Panoramic Moonroof
  • Intelligent Around View Monitor
  • LED Fog Lights
  • Front and Rear Sonar System
  • Leatherette-Appointed Seats
  • Heated Front Seats

The Moonroof Package includes just the panoramic moonroof and costs $1,420.

Nissan Murano Competition

Toyota Highlander

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The Highlander is a veteran and knows how to cater to the highly volatile market. After spending almost two decades in the segment and transforming from a mid-size SUV to a three-row family hauler, the Highlander, today, is one of the most versatile SUVs on the market. The Highlander’s USP is its comfortable and practical cabin. It comes with stuff like power-adjustable front seats, three-zone automatic climate control, moonroof, etc.

The Highlander is powered by a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that makes 295 ponies and 263 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to either the rear wheels or all of them via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The Highlander is available in the Hybrid avatar as well. It starts at $34,600.

left right
Nissan Murano vs Toyota Highlander
Nissan Murano Toyota Highlander
Engine 3.5-Liter V-6 3.5-Liter V-6
Fuel Regular Regular
Horsepower 260 HP 295 HP
Torque 240 LB-FT 263 LB-FT
Transmission CVT Only 8AT
Drive FWD/AWD RWD/AWD
Towing Capacity 1,500 LBS 5,000 LBS
Fuel Economy 20/28/23 19/26/22
Curb Weight 4068 LBS 4,370 LBS
Fuel Capacity 19 Gal 17.9 Gal

Read our full review on the Toyota Highlander

Acura RDX

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The Acura RDX is a stylish SUV and was completely redesigned in 2019. Even in the base trim, the RDX is loaded with all the basic creature comforts, thus making it a value-for-money offering if you’re on a tight budget. Acura even offers a 10.2-inch touchscreen as standard on all the trims. However, it doesn’t support Android Auto. The IIHS awarded the 2019 model with the Top Safety Pick+ rating, which is the best a vehicle can score. The 2020 model doesn’t see a whole lot of changes, so the same rating can be applied to this as well.

It used to come with a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that produces 279 horses and 252 pound-feet of torque. However, now it is available with just a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged mill that churns out 272 ponies and 280 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels as standard via a 10-speed automatic gearbox. All-wheel drive is also available for $2,000 extra. The Acura RDX starts at $37,800.

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Nissan Murano vs Acura RDX
Nissan Murano Acura RDX
Engine 3.5-Liter V-6 2.0-Liter Four-Cylinder
Fuel Regular Premium
Horsepower 260 HP 272 HP
Torque 240 LB-FT 280 LB-FT
Transmission CVT Only 10AT
Drive FWD/AWD FWD/AWD
Towing Capacity 1,500 LBS 1,500 LBS
Fuel Economy 20/28/23 21/27/23
Curb Weight 4068 LBS 4026 LBS
Fuel Capacity 19 Gal 17.1 Gal

Read our full review on the Acura RDX

Final Thoughts

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As a family man, the Nissan Murano is a product that you cannot go wrong with. It is practical inside out, reasonably priced, comes with a spacious interior, has a decent cargo area, good tech specs, soft suspension, and a fuel-efficient, smooth engine. However, this is not an enthusiast’s car.

The CVT sucks out all the fun. If you want something that is fun-to-drive and you’re fine with compromising on the second-row comfort, the Acura RDX will suit your needs. Overall, the Murano is a neutral SUV that is the jack of all trades but master of none. Also, watch out for the upcoming Toyota Venza. The revived moniker shows a lot of promise and could very well become one of the top sellers in the segments if priced well.

  • Leave it
    • Not a fun-to-drive SUV
    • Looks are hit-or-a-miss
    • Poor tow rating
Philippe Daix
Obsessive and Compulsive Automotive Expert - phil@topspeed.com
Always on the lookout for the latest automotive news, Philippe Daix is our most senior editor and founder of TopSpeed.com. He likes to see himself as a consumer advocate with a mission to educate motorheads of all ages.  Read More
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