I like the fact that, when I got in the Murano, the ergonomics were all so transparent. I needed to adjust the sideview mirrors, and my left hand went up to the door panel and immediately found an easy-to-use twist dial for adjusting the mirrors. I needed to adjust the steering wheel, and my left hand immediately found a power tilt-and-telescope button on the left side of the steering column. I needed to adjust the seat, and my left hand then immediately found the seat control on the outboard edge of the seat bottom, and there was no fumbling around trying to figure out how to use it; it was immediately obvious. I wanted to turn on the seat heater, and I found the seat heater button in a microsecond. I wanted to hook up my phone to Bluetooth, and that took only about 15 seconds. These things go a long way toward everyday usability.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The Murano is one of the most stylish SUVs on the market today. Its lines are fluid and organic but still have plenty of attitude; a characteristic that is missing from competitors like the plain Honda CR-V and the odd-looking Toyota Venza. Even more important, Nissan designers refrained from adding fussy details or too many chrome bits on the exterior so it has a very clean, modern look. The front end is still a bit tortured but thankfully the large, chrome teeth were pulled in favor of thinner, more subdued chrome arms.
Driving the Murano is no revelation but it does everything a mid-size crossover is expected to. The rear seats can easily hold full-size adults, and although the cargo area is a bit compromised because of the sharp angle of the rear hatch, it's still fairly commodious. The only thing that would make me consider a newer offering such as the recently redesigned CR-V is its fuel economy. The Murano only manages 18 mpg city/23 mpg highway, while Honda expects the AWD CR-V to achieve 22/30. The Murano does have a much roomier cabin -- 36 cubic feet more room for passengers -- but the CR-V's cargo area is 5.5 cubic feet larger.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
Nissan has been offering some of the most user-friendly interiors in the business for a while. There is usually a little too much hard plastic, which keeps the critics from offering up Nissan as the industry-standard when it comes to ergonomic and logical interiors. The Murano is no exception -- I found everything easy to use and well-placed.
Nissan embraces the CVT more so than any other automaker and it works well with the Murano's AWD system. The vehicle never hunts for traction and power delivery is very smooth. Sure, if you're always putting the pedal to the floor the engine hangs in the upper reaches of the tachometer and it sounds weird never hearing a shift, but I sincerely doubt many mid-size crossover shoppers spend much time around the redline.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
The Murano is a very nice midsize crossover that for some reason hasn't resonated with the buying public in the way that the Toyota Highlander, the Ford Edge, and even the Subaru Forester have. Still, Nissan will sell about 55,000 of them this year, so it's not like the Murano is a losing proposition for the company. One wonders just what it is that the Murano lacks, and it's pretty hard to put a finger on it when you look at the example we drove and see everything you get: power-adjustable steering wheel, navigation system, backup camera, Bluetooth, a power liftgate, twenty-inch wheels, leather upholstery, heated seats and steering wheel, and the list goes on. Admittedly, this particular Murano is the very top-of-the-line model, but you can still get a nicely equipped version in the mid-$30s.
Like most mid-size crossovers, the Murano provides a high enough seating position for the driver to give a nice view of the road ahead. Rear seat passengers get plenty of legroom and in addition can recline the rear seatbacks. Once underway, the driving experience can't be described as stimulating but the engine has decent power and the CVT provides for smooth acceleration. All in all, the Murano is a vehicle that someone looking for a midsize crossover should put on their list. It may not have any single attribute that makes it stand out in its class, but it's a competent vehicle has all the features a mid-size crossover should have.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor