Friday, December 19, 2014

2015 Nissan Murano....Comfortable & icebreaker

The flamboyant, head-turning exterior design of the 2015 Nissan Murano is quite the icebreaker. This mid-size crossover is at once a charming outlier and a carefully calculated inside job that, no matter how you see it, breaks free of the utility-vehicle mold in several meaningful ways.

Elegance, style, and luxury-like ambiance—not ruggedness and trail prowess—are the focus of the Murano. It’s not aimed so much at diaper-changing parents and carpool duty, either; those are the roles of Nissan’s Rogue and Pathfinder, after all. And performance might take second stage to comfort; but to the older, albeit style-conscious empty-nester couples Nissan is targeting more than ever with this redesigned Murano, that’s quite alright.

The 2015 Murano takes some of the style statement for the Pathfinder and amplifies it—essentially arriving to dealerships with much of the look of the Resonance Concept that Nissan rolled out at auto shows less than two years ago. And it’s a dose of what we hope the upcoming Maxima will have even more of.

Nissan designers aimed to counter the heavy, chunky look of traditional sport-utility vehicles with the Murano, and we think they brilliantly succeeded—not only in that, but in producing a vehicle that’s nearly everyone will agree is one of the best-looking contemporary crossovers.

With the fully realized ‘V-motion’ grille and its lines continuing upward and onward into the hoodline, ‘boomerang’-style headlights and taillights that frame some of the most expressive creases and curves in any production model today, and to top it all off, a unique ‘floating’ roof with blacked-out pillars and a distinct ‘arc’ in the beltline pinching it upward near the tail, the Murano looks like no other crossover on the market from the outside. Inside, it’s not quite as daring, but its ‘jet-age’ inspiration and ‘panorama’ layout is grander, swoopier, and a little bit more daring than in rival models, all while keeping the layout simple and accessible.

To some, the Murano’s very expressive exterior may hint at a very engaging, emotional driving experience; but that’s not so much the case. The empty-nester types that the Murano is taking aim at want confident performance, but things like ride quality and cabin quiet take priority over that. What powers the Murano is a version of what’s powered mid-size Nissan cars and crossovers for years—the 3.5-liter double-overhead-cam V-6, making 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired to the latest iteration of the automaker’s ‘high-torque’ continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), here omitting things like a tow mode or a low range. In front-wheel drive or AWD form, the Murano delivers what matters to its target buyer: strong, confident, refined performance, all without sacrificing too much comfort along the way.

Although the exterior is as extroverted as can be, it doesn’t cut into interior space and usability. Inside, you’ll find a lot of passenger space, reasonably good cargo versatility, and a quiet, refined ambiance throughout. The driving position is just right, and the rather low-set dash should allow even shorter drivers to feel comfortable in this model, while there’s plenty of headroom above, even for tall drivers with the available moonroof. Not everyone will love the so-called Zero Gravity seats, but the outboard back seats in the Murano are true comfort zones, contoured for adults and with plenty of space—ideal for the double dates and Wine Country touring that Nissan profiled as targets.
The flamboyant, head-turning exterior design of the 2015 Nissan Murano is quite the icebreaker

In addition to a safety set that’s already solid, the Nissan Murano SL and Platinum models include standard Blind Spot Warning, as well as Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which can at parking speeds warn you of vehicles approaching from the side, while the available Around View Monitor system has Moving Object Detection, helping you spot vehicles or objects with a warning chime and notification. Blind Spot Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, and Predictive Forward Collision Warning use information from four cameras and three radar sensors to spot issues ahead and help react to them quicker; they’re optional as part of a package on those SL and Platinum models.

The Platinum, with features like heated-and-cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and power-folding rear seats, is indeed new to the lineup for 2015, and it’s Nissan’s attempt to offer an even better-equipped, top-of-the-line model that, as we see it, truly competes with luxury-badged models like the Lexus RX 350 and Acura MDX—in all but the cachet of the luxury badge itself, of course.

For the S and SV models, the feature list is quite robust—especially if you gauge it on value, as the Murano comes with a price tag that undercuts the Lexus RX and Acura MDX by ten grand. Move up to the SL and new top-of-the-line Platinum models, and you get a lot more, albeit at a price that approaches those luxury-badge models.

We appreciate the simplicity of the Murano’s interfaces, overall, as they’re clean and well-conceived, with some physical buttons where they make sense. All models except the Murano S include an upgraded infotainment system with a larger eight-inch multi-touch screen, voice recognition for navigation and audio, and SiriusXM Travel Link services for fuel prices, weather, movie listings, stock information, and sports scores.