The Nissan Murano was introduced back in 2003, well before the term "crossover" meant anything. At its debut, it instantly became a popular alternative to the traditional SUVs of the time thanks to the Murano's carlike ride, spacious interior, powerful V6 engine and distinctive styling.
The Murano has since had two major redesigns, both of which have moved it upscale while retaining its five-passenger layout. The current generation offers futuristic styling and a roomy, classy interior. New or used, the Murano is definitely worth a look for those shopping for a midsize crossover.
Current Nissan Murano
The Nissan Murano has long been a testing ground for Nissan's advanced styling, and the latest iteration is no exception. From the outside, the Murano looks like an SUV from a sci-fi movie. On the inside, it's as posh and polished as the SUVs offered by Nissan's luxury brand, Infiniti. Nissan hasn't tried to stuff in a third row, so the Murano offers plenty of space for five passengers. All Muranos are powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that develops 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque that is connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
The Murano is offered in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and Platinum. The S is very well equipped, with dual-zone climate control, a touchscreen stereo, keyless entry and ignition, and an optional navigation system. SV models add power seats, roof rails and other features, as well as a plethora of option packages. The SL's equipment list reads much like that of a luxury SUV, with leather, a power tailgate and a 360-degree parking camera, while the Platinum adds even more creature comforts. Like other Nissan models, a Midnight Edition package with blacked-out wheels and trim is offered on the Murano Platinum.
Our editors praise the Murano for its mix of performance and economy. Handling is not particularly sporty, but the Murano feels comfortable and competent. We also like the exceptionally comfortable front seats and the roomy and well-finished interior, but outward visibility is poor. Between the tall hood and the small rear windows, it's just not the easiest crossover to see out of. Blind-spot monitoring is optional on the SV and standard on SL and Platinum, and it's a good feature to have.
Used Nissan Murano Models
The latest Murano represents the third-generation Murano, which made its debut for the 2015 model year. This Murano introduced a new styling language for the Nissan brand, including the "floating roof" motif that has since appeared on the Maxima. There were no significant changes to the Murano until midway through the 2017 model year when the so-called 2017.5 Murano had its option packages shuffled a bit and added a new Midnight Edition with blacked-out wheels and trim.
The second-generation Nissan Murano ran from 2009 to 2014. Compared to the original Murano, it had a restyled exterior accompanied by numerous upgrades under the skin, including a more responsive CVT and higher-quality interior materials.
All Muranos of this vintage had a 3.5-liter V6 good for 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque and put power to the pavement through a CVT. It was offered in four trim levels. The base S model was reasonably well equipped, but many desirable items were grouped into packages not available on the S. The SV had features such as power seats, a color 7-inch display, an iPod interface and Bluetooth. The SL trim upgraded to a sunroof, a power liftgate, a premium audio system and leather upholstery, while the top-of-the-line LE poured on the decadence, offering as standard just about every option on the Murano's list. A navigation system, a rear-seat entertainment system and additional safety features are the Murano's main options for the top trim levels.
In reviews, our editors generally praised the second-gen 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.
If you're shopping for a used second-generation Murano, there are a few changes to keep in mind. For the 2009 model year only, all-wheel drive came standard on the top-of-the-line LE trim. From 2009 until 2011, the Murano's engine actually had a slightly higher-rated output of 265 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque (later models, including the current Murano, offer 260 hp and 240 lb-ft). Also, the SV trim level was introduced in 2011, coinciding with restyled taillights and an updated navigation system. Muranos from 2013 and later saw the advent of a few advanced safety options (blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert).
The first-generation Nissan Murano was produced from 2003 to 2007, and it set the pace for the crossover segment. (The Murano skipped the 2008 model year.) At the time, its combination of an SUV-like driving position, ample cargo room and strong performance was rare.
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. Two trim levels were initially offered: the luxury-oriented SL and the sporty SE. A price-leading S model was added in 2005, offering fewer features for less money. 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 features such as 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 model. Beyond those two shortcomings, though, the first-generation Murano was generally a class act. It was stylish, powerful, handled well and had plenty of options.
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.