2012 NISSAN MURANO REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $47,990 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 10.9 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 13.7 l/100km
Facelifted in the middle of last year and upgraded with a modest increase in standard equipment, not much has changed with the second-generation Nissan Murano.
That’s not such a bad thing. From the outset, the second-gen Murano has impressed us with its classy interior and good performance.
None of that has been messed with; Nissan has simply made its good qualities better.
Quality: This is one of the nicest interiors in the mid-size SUV class. There are plenty of soft-touch surfaces and high-quality plastics; and the seats are upholstered in soft, perforated black leather.
The solidly-built Murano feels quite upmarket for a sub-$50k SUV.
Comfort: The front seats are like armchairs - incredibly comfortable and quite commodious.
The driver’s seat in the ST is eight-way power-adjustable, including for squab height and lumbar support. The steering column also adjusts for tilt and reach, so getting comfortable behind the wheel is easy.
The front passenger seat features four-way power adjustment, and leg and headroom is generous. The rear bench is also amply cushioned, but the centre position would only provide enough comfort for a small child.
The 60/40 split rear backrests can be adjusted for rake, and B-pillar mounted air outlets provide additional comfort on long trips.
Equipment: Standard features on the Murano ST include dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth phone integration, cruise control, xenon headlamps, an 11-speaker Bose premium audio system with two subwoofers, keyless entry and ignition, a reversing camera and 18-inch alloys.
It’s certainly well-equipped but the large touchscreen display for the phone and audio system doesn't work as well as it should ergonomically - it's just a little too far away from the driver.
Storage: The Murano’s boot is smaller than the average mid-size SUV wagon, although there’s enough room for a pram and a few other odds and ends. It may be a little too small for some families.
In-cabin storage is plentiful thanks to the multitude of cubbys, storage bins and door pockets - not to mention an enourmous drawer under the centre console.
ON THE ROAD
With exceptional refinement, power and torque, the Murano’s 191kW/336Nm V6 is more than muscular enough to motivate the car’s 1800kg frame with gusto.
The engine is paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission, but, unlike other CVTs on the market, this one is both impressively smooth and quick to respond to driver inputs.
While some CVTs can be slow to adjust their 'gearing' to the driver's driving style, the Murano’s transmission responds rapidly and decisively, picking the right ratio nearly every time.
More abrupt demands for extra power (such as when overtaking) are met with swift kickdowns.
The downside of having such a powerful naturally-aspirated engine in such a heavy car is poor fuel economy. Nissan claims the Murano will use 10.9 l/100km on the combined cycle, but we couldn’t get our tester to dip below 13.7 l/100km.
Refinement: Noise and vibration suppression is excellent. The Murano’s engine is whisper-quiet at cruising speed, and its CVT exhibits none of the chain whine that plagues some other CVT gearboxes.
Suspension: The Murano rides reasonably flatly (if a little taut down below), and has excellent roadholding for an SUV. It also deals well with corrugations with a ride that isn’t jarring despite its firmness.
The Murano’s AWD drivetrain ordinarily has a front-wheel bias, but can be locked in 4WD mode to help get through slipperier terrain.
It automatically disengages the 4WD lock at speeds over 40km/h though, so that particular drive mode is only really meant to help get you out of the occasional sticky situation, not for genuine off-roading.
Braking: We had no complaints with the Murano’s powerful brake system. With ventilated discs at each corner, it has no trouble slowing the 1800kg Murano.
ANCAP rating: Not rated
Safety features: Standard safety features include ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control and stability control.
Passenger safety is provided by three-point seatbelts (pretensioning for front seat occupants) and anti-whiplast front headrests, as well as front, front side and full-length curtain airbags.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Service costs: Under Nissan’s myNissan capped price servicing scheme, all scheduled services for the first six years or 120,000km of ownership have a fixed price.
A basic service costs approximately $248, while the cost of a major service can be up to $650.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Ford Territory TX AWD diesel ($48,240) - It’s a big car, the Territory, and its powered by a grunty turbodiesel that’s more economical than the Murano’s petrol V6
It’s more expensive and less well equipped though, but families will surely appreciate its more spacious boot and cabin. (see Territory reviews)
Toyota Kluger KX-R AWD ($44,490) - The Kluger KX-R doesn’t carry as many standard mod-cons as the Murano.
However, its squarer cabin dimensions endow it with a more usable boot space and unlike the Murano, it has a seven-seat option.(see Kluger reviews)
Mazda CX-9 Luxury AWD ($56,225) - The CX-9’s 3.7 litre V6 is more powerful and more torquey than the Murano’s 3.5 litre, and it offers seven seats as standard. It’s massive inside too, with plenty of sprawling space.
It guzzles fuel though, and the high price of entry for the AWD models makes the 2WD variants a better value proposition. (see CX-9 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With its quasi-luxurious cabin feel and excellent drivetrain/powertrain combo, the Murano could best be summed up as a jacked-up Maxima (funnily enough, both cars share their chassis architecture).
It’s a thirsty beast, but, sitting under $50,000, it represents quite decent value in a solid package.
For quality and the driving experience, we'd put the Murano is at the pointy end of the pack.