Since its arrival in 2003 (as an '04 model), the Nissan Murano has been one of the better crossovers. Stylish inside and out, relatively roomy (for passengers, at least), fairly nimble, and surprisingly economical, the Murano was in a pretty solid position before undergoing a redesign for 2009. My main question upon getting into the new car was, did Nissan screw it up?
At first look, maybe they did. I can't say I'm a fan of the busy new front end or the exaggerated wheel arches. Inside, though, there's been a pleasant upgrade in quality. The soft seats and deeply cushioned armrests first seen in Nissan's Versa (of all things) have migrated to the Murano, and they make for a comfy cabin.
A glance at the EPA numbers on the window sticker suggests that gas mileage has suffered, dropping to 18/23 from 20/24 in a comparison of four-wheel-drive models. But that's only due to the EPA's more stringent - read, more realistic - testing procedures. In an apples-to-apples comparison, the AWD Murano has actually gained 1 mpg city.
That's probably because the Murano didn't get all huge trying to accommodate a third-row seat (there is none). Seating for 5 is pretty good, though. A rear-view camera is a worthwhile new option. And Nissan seems to be the only company that can make a continuously variable transmission feel almost as normal as a conventional automatic.
So, overall, Nissan didn't screw up the Murano.