Review by Dan Heyman and Brendan McAleer. Photos by Dan Heyman and Brendan McAleer.
While being a jack-of-all-trades when you’re a muscle car or sporty roadster may not be that important, it’s an important aspect to consider when we’re talking mid-size crossovers.
Webster’s online defines “Platinum” as a “precious grayish-white non-corroding ductile malleable heavy metallic element that fuses with difficulty and is used especially in chemical ware and apparatus, as a catalyst, and in dental and jewelry alloys.” “Titanium”, meanwhile, is a “silvery-gray light strong metallic element obtained from ilmenite and rutile and used especially in alloys and combined in refractory materials, pigments, and coatings.”
So, basically, one can be found in grandpa’s mouth or on grandma’s wrist, the other in the structure of the tennis racket Djokovic just used to defeat FedEx, or within the paint used on the trucks from the delivery company of the same name.
Either way, I’m not sure either element screams “mid-size crossover”, but here we are with two cars that have nevertheless been labelled as such: The 2015 Ford Edge Titanium, and the 2015 Nissan Murano Platinum. For the Nissan, precious metal signifies top trim (there aren’t even any available option packages), while Ford’s entrant falls to the Sport in the “King Edge” sweepstakes, if we’re talking price and price alone.
That is an important consideration, because it suggests that perhaps one of these is a better jack-of-all-trades than the other, and while being a JOAT when you’re a muscle car or sporty roadster may not be that important, it’s an important aspect to consider when we’re talking mid-size crossovers like this.
Indeed, that distinction may be what separates places one and two in this comparo.
Just the briefest of comments here, as presumably you own eyeballs and have already made up your own mind about which of these two look best. However, there's still something here to be learned.
The Murano's futuristic, cut-and-carved look seems cribbed from the BMW i8, and is far edgier than the Edge's more conservative look. We've seen the former starting to spread through the Nissan lineup, first in the Maxima, and now in the facelift for the Altima. It's something of an acquired taste, and will doubtless age rather quickly, but it's quite a likable look overall. It's significantly less berserker-aggressive than the current RX lineup, for instance, and the new Altima in particular looks pretty good.
The Edge favours a more lantern-jawed, American approach, and this too is pleasing. It's also pretty much the only argument out there that there might be room for Lincoln to exist above top-level Ford products: it's not added features, for the Titanium has pretty much every gee-whiz option you'd wish for, nor is it a badge-based premium (because Lincoln hasn't had much for years). Rather, it might be some extra added style. For now, the Murano is the more daring of the two offerings.
Ride, Performance and Handling
If we were to use styling – and styling alone – to determine which of these was the better handler, the answer is pretty obvious: the Murano, with its flared surfaces, sliced-up bodywork, “floating” roof (the blacked-out d-pillar providing the mirage), aggressive fascia, two-tone rims and generally aggressive stance would be the car I’d pick. If the new Maxima is being labelled as a “four-door sports car”, then – again, based on styling alone – the Murano is the gentleman racer’s crossover.
The Edge? Well, it gets the new grille and headlights seen throughout the Ford line-up (the “New Face of Ford”, as it were), some slightly modified tail lamps, and that’s really it when it comes to the styling changes over the outgoing model. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily; the silhouette is muscular, the overall styling handsome, if not that exciting. Go for the bright colours and blacked-out 21-inch wheels on the Sport if you want a little more flare.
Thing is, the Murano does, indeed, walk the walk.
First of all – and I think Brendan will agree – the seating position is excellent. You sit low but not too low, with the wheel angled perfectly towards you and the dash keeping everything close at hand. This may get said a lot, but I really did get the sense that I was sitting in a car. Will the tall dash make things tougher on shorter drivers? Perhaps, but my wife would fall into that classification and she had little problem with it.
Once you get seated comfortably, which doesn’t take long thanks to the NASA-developed Zero Gravity seats, and set off, you’re immediately treated with a responsive steering rack and chassis that does well to hide the Murano’s 1,891 kg curb weight.
We took both cars on a particularly curvy road, and while we had the Murano’s tires squealing a little more than we did the Edge’s, we attributed that mainly to the Edge having wider tires. What those wide tires can’t compensate for, however, is body roll and the Edge displays a little more of that than we’d have liked. The Murano by comparison is much tighter and does well to maintain that feeling of being in a car we got when we first sat in it.
Of course as is so often the case in comparisons like this choosing from these is almost as simple as knowing what it is you want from your car’s ride.
For its part the Edge provides the softer ride; sharper bumps like railroad crossings are swallowed up with ease and the Murano’s firmer chassis (and multi-link rear set-up as opposed to the Edge’s integral-link rear) will get a little more out of sorts in these situations. It’s hardly a deal breaker, however, as the Nissan’s ride quality is not as compromised as you’d think considering its manners during more aggressive driving. However, as Brendan will explain in the next section, there are other aspects of the Edge that help its stake its claim as the softer of these two cars.
It also clips the Murano in the power department, and what’s great is that since they both go about making their power in different ways, an interesting cross-section of the midsize crossover segment is provided. The Nissan gets its motive force from a naturally-aspirated V6 (your only choice), the Ford from a 2.0L EcoBoost four, although a brand-new 2.7L EcoBoost is available on Sport models, and there’s the old – but thirsty – V6, too.
Power for the Murano is rated at 260 hp and 240 lb-ft, while our Edge sees its hp count lowered to 245, with torque growing to 275 lb-ft Those aren’t huge discrepancies, but you do feel it in straight-line force once you get past the turbo lag manifested early on in the rev band. Ford has put a lot of stock in their EcoBoost technology and here it provides a clear look at what a turbocharged four-banger is able to do.
However once you’re up to speed both cars feel equally quick with the Murano providing a little more confidence during high-speed passes thanks to the quick to rev-and-deliver V6. You are, however, stuck with Nissan’s Xtronic Continuously-Variable Automatic transmission (CVT) as your only transmission choice, with the Ford getting a more traditional six-speed auto with paddle shifters, the latter a feature you can’t get on the Murano.
That’s too bad, because I recently sampled the latest Nissan Maxima – which gets the same powertrain as the Murano – and it has paddle shifters, which did well to bring some life to what is otherwise a fairly bland transmission. I think those would have a place behind the wheel of the Murano. Then again, at the Murano’s launch in March, Nissan claimed that it's fifty-year-old empty-nesters that the Murano is aimed at, and I guess they don’t care so much about driving thrills.
What they must care about, then, is a smoothly-operating transmission and the CVT is that; after all, that’s a big reason why so many manufacturers are going that route.
Comfort and Utility
Despite feeling surprisingly willing on the road, the Murano is indeed a car for the older customer. That's good, because young people don't have any money, and if they did they'd probably spend it on beard oil or tattoos.
The upscale-but-not-too-upscale crossover segment is ideally suited for someone whose come up through a series of family sedan Altimas, and now has the desire for something with a bit more panache. Thus, while the younger family turns to Rogue or Pathfinder depending on seating requirements, those who want something a little nicer and might be carrying adult passengers on the regular will find much to like about the Murano.
It's certainly a very comfortable car, especially Nissan's seats. Time and again we've been impressed by these and the longer we spend in 'em, the better we like 'em. That's true front-and-rear, with rear-seat passengers getting a more comfortable ride than they would in the Ford.
Up front, the driver faces a more cockpit-like feel, and steering that's weirdly heavier than the Edge's. Not more feelsome, just heavier.
The Edge isn't harsher by any means, and in fact delivers a slightly smoother ride than the Murano. Mind you, I'd imagine any advantage the Ford enjoys in smoothing out the smaller, harsher impacts would be lost if you optioned the Edge Sport with its gargantuan Ludacris-approved wagon wheels. The 20s on the Titanium car roll easy.
Cargo capacity between the pair is simply too close to call. The Edge has more space when the seats are all down but 10L less than the Murano when they're up. Both are perfectly acceptable, and capable of hauling everything from hockey bags to the weekly groceries.
Given the closeness in size, the tip goes to the Murano, which has the slightly better seats and a smoother driving experience. Its suspension is nearly as compliant as the Ford's but the way it keeps an even keel through the corners and still manages to iron out the rough stuff makes for a relaxing drive. Covering distance back from the hill apres-ski in this thing would be just about ideal.
This one, right here, is about as cut-and-dried as it gets. Why? Because the Edge – it’s 2015, now, remember – still uses MyFord Touch with Microsoft SYNC, which just can’t keep pace not only with the Murano, but with pretty much anything else out there, right now. I mean that literally: it’s just so darn slow. Slow to receive inputs, slow to calculate routes, slow to switch music sources, slow to pair Bluetooth – and it’s a shame, because the quadrant system is not a bad idea; tap the bottom left for entertainment, the top right for navi and so on, but it’s all lost in a mess of dim graphics and dim wits.
The Nissan, for its part, hits a massive home run in this department.
The 7-inch (17 cm) screen is bright and easy to read, the graphics and fonts are modern and clear, and the knobs and buttons on either side of the screen are easily reached and look good, having been given a chrome finish. The centre stack stands heads-and-tails above the plasticky affair on the Edge, although it should be noted that the 2015 model does get proper buttons instead of the touch panel from the previous model. That, dear readers, is a very good thing.
Where the Ford does, well, “edge” the Murano, however, is in the driver aids department. Our trim was specced with the 302A equipment group ($3,800) that provides blind-spot alert, second-row inflatable seatbelts and lane-keep assist. More than simply sounding a tone when you begin to drift, it’s an active system that will first send pulses through the wheel, then steer you back on course if you still aren’t correcting. Or, if you choose, you can deactivate the auto-steer portion, and keep the haptic wheel alert, which can be set to three levels of intensity.
Lane keep assist isn’t an option on the Murano, but you do get rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot alert, and forward collision alert. You also get the Around View monitor which makes parking and navigating tight spaces a breeze, thanks to the ability to choose which angle is displayed on the monitor. We’re starting to see similar systems appear elsewhere in the market, but Nissan was one of the pioneers, and they do the job rather well.
Having said that, the 302A Package on our Edger we talked about earlier does provide enhanced park assist, which doesn’t really require any cameras at all. Why? Well, because it’s pretty much all done by computers, that’s why. If you’re thinking of parallel parking, just drive slowly alongside a row of parked cars, activate park assist with the press of a button, and the system will tell you when it’s found a spot big enough in which to park. Then, brake, select reverse, and Bob’s pretty much your uncle; all you have to do is cover the brake, and the Edge does the rest. No cams required. As a bonus, this being the new model, there’s a perpendicular park assist as well, which works just like the parallel park system does.
I’m also a fan of the modifiable gauge cluster on the Ford. The centre dial is static, but the TFT screen either side of it can be set to display all sorts of useful info, like the next GPS instruction, a tachometer (that looks analogue, but is digital), your trip computer and more, all easily navigated through wheel-mounted buttons. It’s well-implemented, and you have to wonder: if this is so good, how’d they get infotainment so wrong?
Luckily, there is hope on the horizon: SYNC 3 is already being rolled out on some, and I can say from experience that it’s a very good system, worlds ahead of what we have here. Trouble is, we’ll probably be waiting until late 2016 before we see it across the board, meaning right now, if you’re looking at an Edge, what you see here is what you get.
Otherwise in the tech department, it’s pretty much a wash between these two; they both get heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, dualzone climate control, navigation and heated steering wheels. You gotta love the panoramic sunroofs on both, too. Makes for a nice, bright interior and a proper luxury feeling to the environs. You do have to drop an extra $2,000 for navi and panoramic roof on the Edge, however; both come as standard on the Murano’s Platinum trim level.
Value and Economy
It's a funny thing – price these two out in US currency, and the Edge has a clear, um Edge. Here in Canada, though, the base prices are much closer, and the Ford quickly runs away on options. Our two precious-metal-package machines appear neck-and-neck at first, but check a few boxes and the Ford is soon about 10 percent more expensive. That's a lot.
Thing is, this isn't so much a case of one vehicle simply being cheaper than the other as it is the appearance of a good deal. Ask your dealer for a quote on a top-level Murano and the margins aren't huge. Nissan isn't shy about putting cash on the hood, but it's nowhere near as aggressive as Ford when it comes to incentivization.
Your mileage may vary, but right on Ford's own online configurator, the Blue Oval is eager to knock nearly five grand off the price of a vehicle. Incentives and financing rates don't always figure into a comparison test because they're moving points and hard to nail down, but Ford's made “Employee Pricing” and other deep discounting part of their sales strategy for some time now.
However, I still think the Murano offers slightly better value for money. For one thing, it'll do better on resale, simply because it's not going to be up against discounted 2018 models in two years.
For another, and this ties in with fuel economy scores too, there's something about a V6 which a 2.0L turbo can't quite match as a long-term proposition. Sure, the Edge's power-packed four-banger has torque to beat the Murano's V6 and horsepower to meet it, but the real-world fuel economy of the Edge sits at a greater gap from its actual performance than the Murano. If asked to prognosticate, I'd guess that the Nissan's less stressed V6 and CVT combination will have fewer quirks outside the warranty period and will likely rate better in the used market.
Official results for the Edge's 2.0L EcoBoost in AWD form are 11.8 L/100 km city and 8.4 L/100 km highway. The Murano rates at 11.2 L/100 km in the city and 8.3 L/100 km on the highway. Granted, that's regular for the boosted engine and premium for the Murano (you can also run regular, for a mild penalty), but the Nissan doesn't appear thirstier at all. And, if emissions are the culprit, doesn't VW's lesson show that maybe boosted isn't best when it comes to thrift?
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of most of Ford's range. The F150 EcoBoost actually returned acceptable economy on a roadtrip, and both the Fiesta ST and the Focus ST were excellent performers. Add in a deep and abiding love for the Mustang GT and even a fondness for the Fusion, and Ford can seemingly do little wrong.
However, in this case Platinum trumps Titanium. The Murano is nicer to drive, more economical to run, and it manages to look more daring while still being cheaper. The looks might be its Achilles' heel, actually, as many of the values it represents would be attractive to more conservative buyers.
The Ford looks to be the more conservative ride. But, with an older and trickier Sync system, turbocharged power that doesn't always deliver on its economy promises, and a surprisingly high price tag, there are a few risks.
Thus, we suggest putting your money in Platinum. It's flashier, yes, but this time it's also more valuable and precious.
|2015 Nissan Murano Platinum Warranty:
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 5 years/60,000 km roadside assistance
|2015 Ford Edge Titanium Warranty:
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 5 years/100,000 km roadside assistance
|2015 Nissan Murano Platinum||2015 Ford Edge Titanium|
|Base Price $43,498||Base Price $41,119|
|Optional Equipment $300 – Pearl White paint $300||Optional Equipment $7,750 – Equipment Group 302A (Blind spot monitoring system, remote start, auto-dimming exterior driver’s mirror, heated steering wheel, lane departure warning system, enhanced park assist, split-view camera, HID lights, rain sensing wipers, heated rear seats, heated/cooled front seats, 2nd row inflatable safety belts) $3,800, Canadian Touring Package (panoramic roof, voice-activated navigation) $2,000, Bronze Fire clear coat paint $450, rubber floor mats $150, class II trailer tow package $500, 20-inch wheels $850 Warranty: 3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 3 years/60,000 km roadside assistance|
|A/C Tax $100||A/C Tax $100|
|Destination Fee $1,750||Destination Fee $1,690|
|Price as Tested $45,648||Price as Tested $50,659|