The Nissan Murano skipped a model year back in 2008 but came back to us recharged and revitalized for 2009. It hasn't been long since its refresh, but the contemporary midsize crossover will once again be altered with changed looks and a new SV trim.
Gracing the 2011 Nissan Murano's exterior is an altered front end that has already debuted in other parts of the world and is finally making its way to the U.S. Nissan is going for what it calls a "modern art" feel and look. The front fascia features a new grille, more pronounced lines on the lower bumper cover, and redesigned foglight housings. The Murano's signature chromed vertical grille bars are reduced in number and the net effect is a more defined nose that might earn a second look from the local valet.
A new set of taillights are arguably the most significant difference at the rear. More triangular than in the past, the premium LED design closes the appearance gap to the Murano's kin that wear Infiniti badges. Further changes are humble but don't go completely unnoticed: The rear glass has a new shape, and a roof spoiler promotes the stylish soft-roader's sporty theme. The back is aided in overall looks by a helping of chrome on the dual exhaust outlets and Graphite Blue, as pictured, is a classy addition to the color palette.
Furnishing a pleasant and comfortable interior is essential to earning the customer's good graces (and return business), and Nissan approaches this important area with fresh center stack colors and more amenities. The gauge cluster incorporates white rings and lighting rather than the red of old, while optional aluminum and wood accents give the Murano's interior a cleaner presentation. An available dual-panel, power-sliding glass moonroof with a second-row skylight allows natural lighting to enter the cabin, and the confines also can be fitted with a 60/40 flat-folding and heated rear seats.
The new, mid-level SV trim comes equipped with a driver's seat with power lumbar support, a seven-inch LCD screen with Nissan's RearView Monitor system, standard iPod connectivity, and Bluetooth. Step up to the SL-grade Murano and you'll get a heated steering wheel, a nine-speaker Bose sound system, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated HomeLink and a compass. Buyers of the top-end LE trim are treated to a new wood-grain hue in the cabin.
Mechanical changes are modest as the Murano once again employs the services of Nissan's VQ-series 3.5-liter V-6, albeit with lower-rated specifications at 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque on regular-octane gasoline. The 2010 model has 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque but requires premium-octane for those numbers, and the scant drop may possibly be recouped by fueling with octane rated 91 and up. The transmission of choice continues to be Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmission, driving either the front or all four wheels. Don't expect noteworthy fuel economy changes from the EPA ratings of 18 city and 23 highway mpg currently shared throughout the lineup.
Should you find yourself drawn to the revised Murano, it can be had at dealers starting mid-October. With its S, SV, SL, and LE trims, the fashionable crossover continues to generate waves in the auto industry, just as it did when it first arrived.