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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 a bit classier than the older model and has a more responsive transmission. New or used, however, the Murano is worth a look for those shopping for a midsize crossover.
Used Nissan Murano Models
The current, second-generation Nissan Murano debuted as a redesigned model for 2009. A slight cosmetic face-lift was accompanied by numerous upgrades that addressed the shortcomings of the previous-generation's CVT operation as well as its lower-quality interior materials. For that first year, all-wheel drive came standard on the top-of-the-line LE trim. Until 2011, the Murano's engine actually had a slightly higher output of 265 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. That year Nissan also upgraded the Murano's navigation system.
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 Murano should note that little changed mechanically on the first-generation Murano throughout its years of production. An update for 2006 brought subtle changes to the exterior trim and, for the interior, introduced new instrumentation and more elegant materials and color schemes. Prior to this, Nissan made only minor equipment and trim level adjustments.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Nissan Murano page.