Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 and the continuously variable transmission work well here. Hammer it from a standstill and the initial acceleration won't blow you away, but the Murano builds speed smoothly, and it's kinda cool to watch the tachometer needle move toward 6000 rpm without a single hiccup, by which point you're going 80 mph. Nissan has its CVT technology pretty well figured out.
Our test vehicle was not fully loaded, so it had cloth upholstery, and I didn't mind it. The instrument cluster features three round overlapping gauges ringed by illuminated orange stripes that are clearly meant to evoke a bit of BMW sportiness. The Nissan navigation interface is, as usual, excellent.
I'm not a big fan of the cargo area. The opening is big, but the load height is fairly high, and because of that, the distance from the load floor to the ceiling seems rather short. And the cargo compartment itself seems shallow.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor