The 2015 Nissan Murano is on the road and it’s turning heads with an aggressive design and an improved, near-luxury cabin.
Here are five reasons I recommend you add the new Murano to your list of test drives as you consider your next vehicle.
Reason #1: Nissan’s Flagship SUV
The Murano is Nissan’s flagship SUV and offers near-luxury interior features and a stylish exterior that separates it from Nissan’s fleet and the Murano’s competitors.
Like the Nissan Rogue, the Murano offers only two rows of seats but feels much larger. At the same time, the Murano is smaller than the three-row Nissan Pathfinder, but feels more luxurious than Nissan’s second best-selling crossover SUV.
The Murano looks more stylish than either of those vehicles. It starts with the revised grille that has a large “V” element smack-dab in the middle. Give it a “V” for a victorious upgrade over the old grille. More controversial are the boomerang-shaped head and taillights. You’ll either like them — or not.
I took multiple co-workers for rides this past week and solicited design opinions from each of them and headlight reviews were mixed. What wasn’t mixed was that nearly all drivers liked the rear styling of the Murano. It simply is more expressive and stylized than nearly every other vehicle in its class. And the “floating roof” concept that essentially hides the B and C pillars to create an illusion that the roof is floating on glass is another interesting and visually arresting development.
Reason #2: Excellent Fuel Economy Ratings
Nissan anticipates the new Murano should return a 20 percent improvement in fuel economy. That’s impressive, particularly when you consider that the new Murano comes standard with the same 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine as the outgoing model. The difference is Nissan’s improved and latest version of its Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The CVT exists to improve fuel economy and the proof is in the numbers. The 2014 Murano returned 18 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway. The 2015 Murano elevates expected city mpg to 21 and highway mpg to 28. That’s a huge increase and Nissan achieved these numbers even while they added more than 100 more pounds to the Murano. That’s like going to Subway and eating their lardiest meat sandwich each day and somehow becoming more slender and attractive in the process.
The 3.5-liter V6 and the CVT work well together and I was initially surprised by available torque. Acceleration causes the engine to drone like all other CVTs, but it never becomes obnoxious. Think about this: the less the engine drones, the better the fuel economy. I covered more than 250 miles during my test and averaged 21 mpg.
Reason #3: 2015 Nissan Murano is a Top Safety Pick+
Safety is another area where the new Murano bests its competition and last year’s model. The redesigned cabin and enhanced safety features helped the Murano earn the top score of “Good” in all categories from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That ensured the Murano earned a “Top Safety Pick” designation. Importantly, however, with available and optional safety features, the Murano earned the institute’s “Top Safety Pick+” designation. As I write this review, only the 2015 Nissan Murano and Toyota Highlander have earned the “Top Safety Pick+” rating.
A bevy of airbags and rigid construction helps protect occupants in a collision. But I strongly recommend you upgrade to gain valuable safety features, including predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, a blind spot warning system and my favorite Nissan safety feature, the Around View Monitor with 360-degree moving object detection. These systems work together to ensure you have a clear view of what’s around you and alert you to risks before those risks become a painful and expensive reality.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the new Murano a four-star overall rating, though the crossover did earn a five-star side-impact rating.
Reason #4: A Comfortable and Spacious Cabin
The best part of the new Murano is the cabin and the best part of the cabin are the seats. My wife and kids experience more than 50 new cars each year and they instantly proclaimed that the Murano’s seats are excellent, particularly the front seats. Though heated seats are available on the SL and Platinum models, you must upgrade to the Platinum model to gain heated and cooled front seats, plus heated rear seats. You can even opt for a heated steering wheel on the Platinum model, which is recommended if you live in cold climates.
The tech features work well, though that’s nothing new for Nissan. The control panel is updated and simplified and I quickly connected my iPhone and streamed a few podcasts via Bluetooth. Satellite radio is also available as is a navigation system, which is standard on all models except the entry-level S trim. My test vehicle (the Murano SL AWD that starts at $38,550 and was just under $42,000 after upgrades) included an optional panoramic moonroof that bathed the vehicle in sunlight and elicited the following comment from a co-worker on the way to lunch: “This glass roof is huge!”
Storage space is not massive, but works well enough for most daily needs. You’ll find 39.3 cubic feet of space behind the second row, which, surprisingly isn’t much larger than the capacity of the Nissan Rogue. Fold the rear seats flat and the Murano can handle up to 69.9 cubic feet of coolers and food for a tailgate party.
Reason #5: Good on the Driveway and on the Road
So you’ve heard plenty about the features that all make the Murano comfortable and attractive while it’s sitting in your driveway. But how does it drive? Quite well, actually.
Though front-wheel drive is standard, my test model featured all-wheel drive and it was appreciated during a week of nearly non-stop spring rainstorms in Utah. The Murano felt solid and composed even blasting through large puddles and pools of water on the freeway. We experienced the same sure-footed driving experience in a front-wheel-drive model during our first test, which means the Murano should be steady in most driving situations.
The Murano looks athletic and, for the midsize SUV class, it is. But no, it never feels like a sport SUV even though the suspension is relatively firm. The Murano exhibited body roll as I zoomed around corners, but not at alarming levels. And steering is improved compared to many other Nissan and Infiniti vehicles that tend to roam a bit.
I enjoyed my time behind the wheel and the Murano leaped into the list of midsize SUVs I recommend, alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Toyota Highlander.
A Strong Upgrade Makes Murano a Compelling Choice
A comfortable cabin and excellent safety ratings makes the Murano a great place to spend time and the improved fuel economy helps you justify spending more time on the road. The design is stylish and the Murano makes good sense for a family of four or five, but works just as well for the single driver who enjoys the higher driving position of a crossover SUV mixed with a capable, stylish design.