Nissan's never been reticent to push the boundaries of style, which they did when introducing the Murano in 2002 as a 2003 model.
The vehicle exhibited dramatic lines not before seen in the mid-size crossover/SUV segment, and the intervening years have been good to the distinctive shape, which remains modern and sleek-looking.
For 2013, the Murano gains Nissan's new safety shield group of technologies, which includes Moving Object Detection (MOD), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) systems. This cluster of "avoidance" programs was added to our tester, the LE Platinum Edition of the Murano.
Unfortunately, these systems, good as they are, can't overcome the visibility impediment imposed by the Murano's massive A-pillars and adjoining side-view mirrors. The visual intrusion affects sightlines when turning, requiring the exercise of extra vigilance. (The Murano isn't the only vehicle suffering this malady -- many others do as well, to varying degrees.)
Despite similar exterior dimensions, the Murano is not equipped with third-row seating, as are the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. Still, if five perches suffice, those roosting will do so in comfort and with plenty of room to stretch appendages.
The Murano's cabin is logically laid-out with switches and controls that are easily sorted through and attractively pack-aged. In my view, Nissan has always had a bit of an edge over other manufacturers in producing instrument panels that are intuitive and easily adapted to.
But, on the road, I found the absence of a manual-mode to be a shortcoming, despite the presence of a Sport setting to administer Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). I'm still unable to utter words of praise for CVTs, that resistance isn't logical. What I'm really saying is that I like an assortment of gears. I anticipate gear changes, and enjoy self-initiating them when I choose to.
Despite my old-school mechanical ethos, I know that CVTs are highly effective at leaching the greatest efficiency and performance from an engine. Nissan has advanced this technology greatly, and I doubt any manufacturer makes a better CVT. The 2013 Murano was always eager to deliver, blending performance with economy better than a conventional transmission likely could.
I was also impressed with how effortlessly the Murano's 3.5-litre 260 horsepower DOHC V6 engine propelled the vehicle. In fact, it was a little too effortless. The Murano's throttle progression was too sharp for my liking, often leading to more get-up-and-go than I had anticipated. I imagine this sort of calibration is intended to create a heightened sense of power and responsiveness, but it can lead to over-acceleration if one is clumsy on the throttle or wearing winter footwear, as I did en-route to a ski day.
The Murano's stiff chassis and fully independent suspension enabled it to meet my ride-quality expectations. It rewards its occupants with an absorbent ride without becoming mushy in the handling department. Corners were dispatched with confidence and suitable athleticism for this sort of vehicle, which made quick work of a twisty mountain road.
In my mind, safely and efficiently facilitating recreation is the main purpose of the SUV/crossover segment, and the Murano meets this standard, except for the A-pillars.
What I take away from my time with the Murano is its ability to expedite and simplify most any automotive tasking, from recreation to commuting, and from cargo-hauling to travelling. Thanks to its intuitive all-wheel drive setup and straightforward functionality, the Murano easily and delightfully fulfils such assignments.
While it's limited to a team of five, it serves the quintet with great appeal and competence. Highway passing ability is outstanding, and handling dynamics are confidence-inspiring.
Regrettably though, my tester missed its fuel-economy ratings of 11.5L/100 km and 8.5L/100km city and highway respectively. My city average was in the 13-14L/100 km range, which is typical of the segment.
The Murano has a decade of maturing under its belt. Along the way, Nissan learned a thing or two about refinement and serving the needs of an active lifestyle while maintaining the Murano's youthful, stylish persona.
-- Postmedia News
-- TYPE OF VEHICLE: All-wheel drive compact SUV
-- ENGINE: 3.5L DOHC V6
-- POWER: 260 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 240 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
-- TRANSMISSION: Continuously variable
-- BRAKES: Four-wheel disc with ABS
-- TIRES: P235/55 TR20
-- LENGTH: 482.3 CM
-- WHEELBASE: 282.5 CM
-- FUEL CONSUMPTION (L/100 KM): 11.5 CITY, 8.5 HWY.
-- BASE PRICE: $34,498