2015 Nissan Murano

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Quick Summary
The 2015 Nissan Murano gets a full redesign to put it on firm footing in the midsize crossover SUV segment. Its length increases by a few inches but it's not as tall as its predecessor. With improved fuel economy and admirable on-road manners, it's now one of the best two-row SUVs in the class.

What Is It?
The 2015 Nissan Murano is a two-row midsize crossover that offers standard V6 power and either front- or all-wheel drive. Standard equipment for the Murano is comparable to other midsize crossovers like the Ford Edge, with a few exceptions. It received an overall rating of "B" from our editors.

The base S trim level starts at $30,445 with feature highlights that include 18-inch wheels, NASA-inspired zero-gravity seats and NissanConnect Mobile Apps (hands-free text capabilities, limited Facebook integration and Internet streaming radio).

We tested the top-of-the-line Murano Platinum, which comes with 20-inch wheels, LED headlights, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats. Our front-drive tester cost $42,145, including the Tech package, which adds a power sunroof, active cruise control and autonomous braking.

The SV and SL trims provide a middle ground for features and cost between S and Platinum models. All-wheel drive is a $1,600 option across the line.

How Does It Look and Feel in Person?
Compared to its predecessor, the new 2015 Murano benefits from a much-needed dose of excitement. The body panels are heavily sculpted with sharp chrome accents, and the grille is much more pronounced. Headlights and taillights also adopt Nissan's current boomerang shape.

One of the more prominent features is the floating roof design that creates the illusion that the rear roof section is suspended only by glass. This element, along with the aforementioned items, gives the new Murano a more athletic appearance that makes it unique in the class.

On the inside, the Murano feels considerably bigger than its exterior suggests. It sports a wraparound cockpit with surface sculpting that mimics the body. The center stack is cleaner than before, with only the essential physical buttons present, and it blends more gracefully into the center console. When it comes to style and quality, the Murano is certainly one of the nicer crossovers without a luxury badge.

How Does It Drive?
The 2015 Murano gets its power from the same 3.5-liter V6 used in the previous model, producing 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Power is channeled through a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but unlike other CVTs that tend to keep the engine speed high and droning, this one simulates a conventional automatic with seven stepped "gearshifts."

Power is adequate but not outstanding. We measured a 7.5-second 0-60 time, which is average for the segment. Accelerating to highway speeds or passing slower traffic quickly requires a deep dip into the throttle, and the engine sounds a bit coarse in the process. Still, ample torque prevents extended periods at full throttle, which minimizes the tiresome engine drone often associated with CVTs. In fact, Nissan's pairing of the V6 with a CVT is among the best on offer when it comes to intuitive and practical use.

Though the Murano lacks any performance intentions, it is a well-mannered SUV in normal driving. Even the 20-inch wheels that come with the Platinum trim don't degrade the ride quality. The steering is very light at low speeds but responses are predictable. Steering weight builds to a meaningful level by highway speeds but there still isn't much actual road feel. Overall, the Murano fills its role as a family hauler effectively, with a comfortable ride and predictable manners.

How Comfortable Is the Cabin?
In addition to the Murano's smooth ride, comfort is further enhanced by a well-executed interior. The typical touch points have ample padding and the leather surfaces are well grained and stitched for an upmarket appearance. The armrest bin is cavernous and is supported by additional smaller pockets in the doors and center console.

There is also a small tray with a USB port to hold smartphones, but it's not large enough to conceal one. The lid itself is flimsy and represents one of the few interior missteps. A heavily swept front roof pillar also tends to obstruct the forward view through tighter turns.

As noted earlier, the cabin is roomier than you'd expect from its compact exterior. Nissan's "zero-gravity" seats seemed gimmicky, but we found them to be among the most comfortable in any SUV. We drove the Murano three hours straight and could have easily continued.

The rear seats also feature this technology, so the seats themselves feel accommodating at first. With a short seat cushion mounted low to the floor, however, some taller adults might find it a bit cramped on longer trips.

There's also an additional USB port in the rear, and it is fully functional for when those passengers want to share their music. Operation of the audio and navigation systems no longer relies on the large dash-mounted dial. A touchscreen is now coupled with two knobs for volume and tuning. Two more knobs are utilized for individual temperature adjustments.

How Practical Is the Murano?
When it comes to hauling cargo, the 2015 Murano can hold up to 39.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 69.9 cubes with the seats folded. This is about 8 and 5 cubic feet larger than its predecessor, respectively, and puts the Murano on par with its primary competitors.

In everyday driving, the Murano is easy to park thanks to its compact footprint, which is about 2 inches narrower than other midsize crossovers. The rear window doesn't afford a very good indication of how close you are to objects when backing up, but the standard rearview camera and around-view monitor (on higher-trimmed models) remove any guesswork.

What Safety Features Are Offered?
Along with the customary safety features found in other crossovers, the 2015 Murano also comes with a driver-side knee airbag and active head restraints for the front seats.

SL and Platinum trims further benefit from a standard around-view camera system with moving object detection, a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alerts.

The high-end models are also eligible for the adaptive cruise control option that is paired with a forward collision warning and intervention system that can monitor two cars ahead. Our tester stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, which is good for the segment. Brake feel remained confident and consistent over five panic stops.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Can You Expect?
Regardless of whether you choose front- or all-wheel drive, the 2015 Nissan Murano is estimated by the EPA to return 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway). Thanks to lighter construction and the new aerodynamic improvements, it bests the last-generation model's 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway) rating, which is also similar to other crossovers currently available.

We measured 20.7 mpg over 542 miles of mixed driving. It produced 26.5 mpg on our standardized test loop, which includes both mountain and highway driving.

What Are Its Closest Competitors?
The 2015 Ford Edge has also received a makeover this year and should be arriving at dealers early in 2015. The Edge is available with three engines, including a less costly four-cylinder. It offers both front- and all-wheel drive and cargo space equivalent to the Murano.

Similarly equipped, the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee is slightly more expensive than the Murano, and its fuel economy estimates aren't quite as good unless you get the diesel model. The interior is surprisingly luxurious for a Jeep, and it also has greater off-road capabilities if properly equipped.

The 2015 Volkswagen Touareg receives a freshening with updated styling and more features that bring it up to date with the latest crop of crossovers. The base Touareg costs as much as a fully loaded Murano, however.

Why Should You Consider This Car?
It's competitively priced, over-delivers on luxury and is a pleasure to drive. It also has styling that stands out in a class seldom known for interesting designs.

Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
With a greater emphasis on luxury versus child-friendly features (rear entertainment and scuff-/spill-resistant materials), the Murano may not be as well suited to family duty as other crossovers — some of which cost less.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.