The Nissan Murano was one of the first midsize crossovers introduced in the United States. At its debut, it instantly became a popular alternative to the traditional SUVs of the time thanks to its carlike ride, spacious interior, powerful V6 engine and distinctive styling.
Since then a second-generation Murano has bowed. It follows a similar formula, though it's classier inside than the older model and has a more responsive transmission. New or used, the Murano is definitely worth a look for those shopping for a midsize crossover.
Current Nissan Murano
The Nissan Murano brings liberal helpings of style and performance to the crossover segment. All trims are available in either front- or all-wheel drive. A 3.5-liter V6 good for 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque puts its power to the pavement through a continuously variable transmission (CVT)
The Murano is offered in four trim levels. The base S model is reasonably well-equipped, including keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control and a six-CD changer, but many desirable items are grouped into packages not available on the S. The SV adds features like power seats, a color 7-inch display, an iPod interface and Bluetooth. The SL trim gets you a sunroof, a power liftgate, a premium audio system and leather upholstery. The top-of-the-line LE pours on the decadence, offering as standard just about every option on the Murano's list, including xenon headlights and heated rear seats. A navigation system, a rear-seat entertainment system and added safety features are the Murano's main options for the top trim levels.
In reviews, our editors have generally praised the current Nissan Murano's sophisticated appearance, stylish and comfortable interior, strong V6 engine and sharp handling characteristics. Our only concerns regard the Murano's middling cargo capacity and poor rearward visibility. Competing models may be better on one or both of these counts, but they won't likely offer the Murano's combination of performance and style.
Used Nissan Murano Models
The current, second-generation Nissan Murano debuted for 2009. A restyled exterior was accompanied by numerous upgrades under the skin, including a more responsive CVT and higher-quality interior materials.
If you're shopping for a used second-generation Murano, there are a few changes to keep in mind. For '09 only, all-wheel drive came standard on the top-of-the-line LE trim. Until 2011, the Murano's engine actually had a slightly higher rated output of 265 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. Also, the SV trim level was introduced in 2011, coinciding with restyled taillights and an updated navigation system. Muranos from 2013 and up saw the advent of a few advanced safety options (blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and rear cross-path detection).
The first-generation Nissan Murano was produced from 2003-'07 and it set the pace for the segment soon known as crossovers. (The Murano was on hiatus for the 2008 model year.) At the time, its combination of an SUV-like high driving position, ample cargo room and sedanlike handling and acceleration was virtually unprecedented.
The original Murano's styling -- an unmistakable offspring of Nissan's alliance with French automaker Renault -- was nothing if not distinctive, inside and out. Fortunately, it offered impressive hardware as well. All first-generation Muranos came with a 3.5-liter 245-hp V6, and a CVT was the only available transmission. Two trim levels were initially offered: the luxury-oriented SL and sporty SE. A price-leading S model was added in 2005, offering fewer features for less coin. Even the S came well-equipped with dual-zone climate control, a CD player and (as of 2006) a 7-inch LCD display. The SL added niceties like a power driver seat with adjustable lumbar support, while the SE rode on an exclusive sport-tuned suspension. Options included a roof rack, adjustable pedals, a Bose stereo, a sunroof and a DVD-based navigation system.
In our reviews of the first-generation Nissan Murano, low-grade interior materials were among the few nits we could find to pick. Our most serious complaint was that the sluggish CVT dampened spirited driving -- a flaw rectified in the second-generation car. Beyond those two shortcomings, though, the first-generation Murano was generally a class act. It was stylish, powerful, handled well and had plenty of optional pleasantries.
Consumers interested in a used first-generation Murano should note that little changed mechanically throughout its years of production. An update for 2006 brought subtle changes to the exterior trim, as well as new instrumentation and more elegant materials and color schemes. Prior to this, Nissan made only minor equipment and trim level adjustments.
Read the most recent 2014 Nissan Murano review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Nissan Murano page.