2015 Nissan Murano: Damped Ride for the Dog
July 27, 2015
Warning: Gratuitous puppy content ahead.
A few years back, my daughters were searching for a charity to support. After some research they settled on Guide Dogs for the Blind, an organization that breeds, trains and ultimately deploys guide dogs. The pups aren't mature enough for formal guide training until they're 14 or 15 months old, and they need to learn socialization and basic obedience before they're eligible. This "puppy-raising" phase is where my daughters enter the picture.
The breeding compound is in San Rafael, California, and the fresh puppies are usually delivered to puppy-raiser families across the western U.S. via the Puppy Truck, perhaps the happiest vehicle on earth. But things would be different this time. Our newest pup was to be handed over during the finale of the Fun Day open house event at GDB headquarters.
San Rafael is 425 miles from our front door, so we'd need to bring a vehicle with enough room for the four of us, overnight luggage and doggie-related paraphernalia including a collapsible crate. It also needed to be something with a nicely-damped ride that wouldn't make our new pup puke.
Our 2015 Nissan Murano ticked all the right boxes. But how would our new canine react? After all, this hours-long trip would be its first car ride of any kind.
Guide Dogs names all of their dogs, and they never use the same name twice unless the dog has left the program. The name is always a big secret that's revealed at handover. It's a thing. All we knew is we'd be getting a female Golden Retriever with a first name beginning with the letter "F." Our guesses were all over the map.
This is Flora. She's nine weeks old.
How'd she do? Just look at that face.
She came through it like a road trip veteran. For various logistical and practical reasons, we pretty much drove straight through for 7 hours and she was into it. Most of the time she wanted to play mountain goat and stand on the center armrest, but we mostly wouldn't let her.
My wife and girls passed her around to keep her busy, and she watched Sarah's iPad intently for a while as Goat Simulator played across the screen. Don't ask. It's as ridiculous as it sounds.
We brought along a stack of faded beach towels for obvious precautionary reasons. But we needn't have bothered. Flora committed no runs, drips or errors.
Oh, right. The Nissan.
It all went well in part because the Murano's ride remained pleasingly flat and well-damped throughout, even with our somewhat full load. I was happy with the weight and feel of the steering and the chassis' inherent tendency to go arrow-straight down the road despite cross-winds, ruts and passing semis. And even though the Murano's exterior does strike me as somewhat busy and over-styled, it did manage to slice its way through the air in a more-or-less quiet fashion.
But our Murano may just have the world's most maddening cruise control. It's so awful I'll save that rant for another post. If you're on the verge of buying, all I'll say for now is our Murano has the optional adaptive cruise system. Save your money.
Flora and the girls liked the backseat's air conditioning ducts. There's a USB port back there that ties into the stereo, and Flora was only tempted to chew on Sarah's attached iPad cord once or twice.
My first impression of the cargo space is it's a bit of a reverse Tardis; it's smaller than you'd expect on the inside. But it held our weekend's-worth of stuff well enough. I'll reserve final judgment until I haul a larger load.
Would I choose it again? Absolutely. Flora seemed to like it, too.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 9,985 miles