Take a good, long look at the two-row crossover segment and the designs that are available. Most are generic boxes with curved edges, differentiated only by grilles and lights. Not the Nissan Murano. The latest third-generation machine, launched last year, offers stand-apart styling without sacrificing the interior or cargo space that buyers demand.
While the Murano carries over unchanged for 2016, its effects on Nissan's lineup noticeable. The crossover's bold styling has cascaded down through Nissan's lineup of sedans, inspiring the updated Sentra, Altima, and the all-new Maxima. The "boomerang" headlights and taillights are neat, as is the zig-zagging beltline. The flowing fenders and blacked-out pillars also add to the cool factor. Most Muranos ride on 18-inch wheels; the Platinum trim's forged 20-inch wheels look fantastic.
One drawback to the Murano's bold styling is a lack of outward visibility. It's more compromised than its conventional rivals, though a reverse camera comes standard. Starting with the SL trim, Nissan's 360-degree parking camera is standard, as is Nissan’s Moving Object Detection proximity sensing system, and rear cross-traffic alert; hopefully, this feature will trickle down to lesser versions soon. Radar cruise control with forward collision warning and emergency autonomous braking are offered on the Platinum trim level.
Despite the fact that the Murano wears a Nissan badge on its nose and tailgate, and sells at down-to-earth prices, it has a distinctively upscale look and feel. The cabin feels airy, its minimalist design accented by Mercedes-style frosted wood trim, and a standard 8.0-inch infotainment system with navigation.
NASA-inspired "zero-gravity" memory foam seats provide all-day comfort and are fitted to both the front and rear seats. The range-topping Platinum model gets further premium amenities including a heated and ventilated front seats, and a power tilt and telescoping steering column. Rear-seat passengers are treated to rear seats that recline, and when equipped a full-length panoramic sunroof which bathes the cabin in natural light.
Cargo capacity for the Murano isn’t as compromised as you might expect given the swoopy styling. Overall capacity is 908 L with the rear seats up, and 1,897 with the rear seats folded – slightly less than the Ford Edge or Jeep Grand Cherokee. All trims but the most basic S receive a standard power liftgate.
Since day one, the Murano has been powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine and uses a CVT transmission. In this latest iteration, the VQ-series engine produces 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. The base S and SV trims feature front-wheel drive; the SL and Platinum receive standard all-wheel drive. It’s an option on the SV. Overall fuel economy for front-drive Muranos is 11.0 L/100 km city and 8.2 L/100 km highway. Opt for the optional all-wheel-drive system and it climbs only slightly to 11.2 L/100 km city, 8.3 L/100 km highway.
Pricing for the 2016 Nissan Murano starts at $29,998 for the front-drive S, with the Platinum trim level selling for $43,998.