While many SUVs look like they were styled with a straight edge, the Murano designers made extensive use of French curves. The front-end features a wide grille flanked by stacked headlights. With its standard 18-inch alloy wheels wearing enormous 235/65R18 inch all-season tires, the side view of the Murano is quite muscular. The rear of the Murano is a particularly strong styling statement. Between the flared fenders and the backswept D-pillars, there is no mistaking the Murano for anything else on the road.
The Murano also gets high marks for interior design. The instrument cluster is a three-pod affair. The center of the dash contains the stereo and climate controls. They are grouped together in a pod that places them much closer than they would otherwise be, thus making them easier to reach. The fit and finish of the interior is excellent and the choice of materials is good.
Nissan has constructed a gem of a motor when they put together their 240-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine. It's extremely flexible with strong power across the rev range. Step hard on the gas and the tachometer needle rises to the torque peak and just hangs there. The Murano comes equipped with a buttery smooth continuously variable transmission that is especially impressive.
Standard four-wheel disc brakes have anti-lock circuitry, brake assist, and electronic force brake distribution. That pedals adjust back and forth, and the driver's seat has an four-way power adjuster. The seats are very good, and the ease with which the rear seatbacks folded was exceptional. Besides providing a flat load floor there is also a hefty storage area under the cargo floor.
The Murano lineup consists of the S and SL on 2WD models, and S, SL, and SE trims on the AWD models. The SL gets automatic headlights, fog lamps, HomeLink, an alarm system, two extra speakers, an electrochromic rearview mirror, and a rearview camera. The SE comes with a manual shift mode on the CVT, tuned suspension, unique alloy wheels, and high intensity discharge headlights.
A number of packages add various equipment to the Murano, such as a six-disc CD changer, a Bose audio system, satellite radio, a sunroof, leather seat trim, seat memory, heated mirrors, traction and stability controls, a tire pressure monitor, a navigation system, and chrome wheels.
Driving the Murano is a delight. The steering is almost like a sports car in its immediacy and reliable feedback. Acceleration and braking are both very good, and the ride is far superior to any truck-base SUV. Overall the Nissan designers have done a fantastic job of blending the traditional SUV demands into a visually exciting package.