By on March 13, 2015

2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Front-001.CR2

If you look at the numbers, sales of the Murano are on fire with a 72% sales jump in January of 2015 vs 2014 thanks to the new model. Looking more closely however, you’ll see that there was practically nowhere to go but up as the Murano barely outsold the now-dead Venza. Putting that in perspective, Nissan’s compact Rogue is the 6th best-selling SUV in America and the Murano is 26 rungs lower on the sales ladder. Nissan sells more Rogues in 6 days than Muranos in an entire month. Rather than killing the model as Toyota did with the Venza, Nissan decided to re-invent the formerly bland soft-roader into a flagship crossover. This actually makes sense, because it helps keep the mid-sized 5-seat CUV from being the awkward “middle child” between the 7-seat Rogue and the 7-seat Pathfinder. Does the all-new and all-curvy Murano have what it takes to compete with the Edge, Grand Cherokee or even the RX 350?

Exterior

The exterior of the 2015 model is a sharp departure from the last generation and is as head-turning as the last model was bland. I wasn’t sure what to think about the Murano when it was announced, the first pictures looked like someone had confused a product launch with a concept car. While much of that had to do with the dramatic angles and color of the launch vehicle, the Murano certainly looks more exciting than Ford’s Edge or it’s Korean look-alike (the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport). Thankfully the engineers responsible for the 2015 model didn’t let the questionably styled Juke influence them.

The first clue that the Murano is a production car is the long front overhang since it remains a FWD crossover with optional AWD. Contrary to what some folks I met during the week thought, there is zero relation to the RWD Infiniti QX70 (the artist formerly known as FX37 / FX50). Helping disguise the overhang is a tall hood, pointy snout, heapings of chrome, and angles that draw the eye rearwards. The dramatic lines gyrate up and down and culminate with bulging tail lamps at the rear. As polarizing as the Murano seems in pictures, in person reactions were entirely positive and garnered more looks than most cars I’ve driven in the last 12 months.

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Center Console.CR2-001

Interior

With a starting price of $29,560, Nissan was able to equip the interior with more soft touch plastics than most of the competition save the luxury and near-luxury cross shops. This helps even the top-level Platinum we tested feel more harmonious than, for instance, top-end trims of the Grand Cherokee where a leather dashboard and real-wood are nestled next to hard plastic center consoles and questionable faux-metal finishes. As with the exterior, Nissan took some bold steps inside as well with a “floating” pleather hood over the gauge cluster and dramatic shapes galore.

Out tester was outfitted with “mocha” leather and trim panels that were a cross between silver-colored faux wood and brushed metal. (Faux-brushed-wood?) Meanwhile the light “cashmere” interiors get trim panels with brown “spots” tossed in giving it a white-washed birch appearance. You’d better like the trim, because there’s a ton of it. The faux-brushed-wood starts with large panels on the doors, a band running across the dashboard, and a large expanse covering the center console and a strip bisecting the center armrest. The overall style is decidedly funky, but to my eye is barely escaped crossing over into “bizarre.” Unlike some reviews I have read, the cashmere interior is my favorite because the lighter color and dashboard shapes make the interior feel cavernous.

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Seats.CR2

As with many of Nissan’s latest products, front seat comfort is exceptional, scoring easily above the Lexus, Cadillac and Lincoln competition for my 6-foot frame. Seats in the 2016 Edge and Santa Fe miss the mark slightly, and the Grand Cherokee’s seats are probably the stiffest of any crossover giving you the impression you’re sitting “on the seat not in the seat.” Sadly the passenger seat lacks the same range of motion as the driver’s seat and you should know that lumbar support is of the 2-way variety.

The Murano’s new 7-inch LCD  instrument panel is standard on all trims including the base “S”.  Unlike Jeep, Nissan keeps analog dials for the tachometer and speedometer leaving the LCD for navigation, infotainment, trip computer functions, and other read-outs. Also standard is dual-zone climate control and 39.6 cubic feet of cargo room. I was surprised to find that despite being smaller and “swoopier” than the Pathfinder, the Murano has nearly as much room behind the second row as the larger CUV (third row folded.) The generous cargo hold and comfy front seats are the prime reason to get the Murano over compact crossover options.

2015 Nissan Murano Nissan Connect Radio

Infotainment

While the 7-inch LCD disco-dash is standard, Nissan reserves the 8-inch touchscreen NissanConnect infotainment system for SV trims ($32,620 starting) or as an $860 option on the S trim. Making a different system just for base S trims strikes me as an odd choice, especially since the functionality is largely the same except that it lacks some touch gesture suopport and navigation. The software is a revised version of what is found in the Altima and Rogue with visual and functional refinements, built-in apps and certain smartphone-app integrated features.

In addition to the screen-size bump, the 8-inch system supports multi-touch gestures and built-in navigation software. Regardless of the version you get, Nissan has expanded the voice command library to be competitive with MyFord Touch and Chrysler uConnect. The software proved to be responsive and easy to use, although some features were less intuitive than competitive systems. Our model had the up-level 11-speaker Bose system which is among the best in this class. Unlike many systems, rear USB port link to the head unit and may be used as a media source. (Most rear USB ports are charge-only.)

2015 Nissan Murano Engine.CR2-001

Drivetrain

Sideways under the hood you’ll find the same 3.5L V6 (VQ35DE) as a variety of Nissan vehicles mated to one of Nissan’s continuously variable transaxles (CVT). Because of the CVT, power is tuned down from the high-output variants to 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. Despite sharing engines with the Pathfinder, the transmission is apparently different and more similar to the last generation Murano. The result is a tow rating of just 1,500 lbs vs 5,000lbs in the 3-row Nissan. While towing in mid-size SUVs and CUVs has fallen out of vogue, that’s 500lbs less than the 190 horsepower four-cylinder Santa Fe Sport and on par with a RAV4. Nissan tells us that few tow with vehicles in this category, and they are probably right. Mid-size utility owners like me that do tow should limit their search to the Grand Cherokee, the only option in this segment capable of towing over 7,000lbs.

Thanks to the CVT and a slippery coefficient of drag, fuel economy has improved dramatically for 2015 coming in at 21/28/24 (City/Highway/Combined). Despite AWD adding some mechanical loss and 130lbs to the picture, the EPA numbers remain the same as the FWD variant. You will find more power in the competition, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better fuel economy even in the 2.4L non-turbo Santa Fe Sport. Our FWD tester barely beat the EPA average at 24.2 MPG.

2015 Nissan Murano Interior Instrument Cluster Gauges.CR2

Drive

Driving dynamics weren’t the forte of the last generation Murano and this acorn hasn’t fallen too far from the tree. Nissan chose to tune the chassis toward the softer and more comfortable side of this category giving it a plush ride despite the 20-inch wheels our model sported. As you’d expect, the CVT is an efficient but not especially engaging companion. Thanks to the softer suspension,  235-width tires and plenty of body roll, certain models of the Grand Cherokee actually score higher when it comes to handling, and I’m not talking about the SRT model. The Murano doesn’t handle poorly, in fact I expected less grip than I received on my favorite mountain roads, just don’t expect the curvy Nissan to dance with the new Edge Sport. The steering is numb but accurate, the brake pedal is moderately firm and the action linear.

Thanks to the CVT and a 3,800lb curb weight, our front wheel drive model ran from 0-60 in 7 seconds flat which is a little faster than the V6 Grand Cherokee and on par with the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T and the V6 and turbo versions of the Ford Edge. Obviously the Edge Sport and its 2.7L twin-turbo V6 and the two different V8 Jeeps are in a separate category in this regard.

2015 Nissan Murano Exterior Side.CR2

Spanning from just under $30,000 to $43,745, the Murano is one of the less expensive options in this tiny segment. Only the Sotrento (available as either a 2-row or 3-row crossover in most trims for 2016) and Santa Fe Sport manage to undercut the Murano when adjusting for feature content. Despite the high value, the Murano’s flagship status ends up working thanks to the quality and consistency of the interior, something that can’t really be said of the Edge or Grand Cherokee despite those vehicles offering high-end options and features not found on this Nissan.

When viewed as the budget alternative to the Cadillac SRX, Lincoln MKX or Lexus RX 350 the Murano also fares well despite not offering the same level of high-end features. While the luxury set offers improved leather, real wood, hybrid options and luxury service, the Murano fights back with a polished ride, higher fuel economy, superb front seats and a sticker that is at least $6,000 less. While I’d personally buy the new MKX, I can’t say the $6,500 extra for a comparably equipped model is entirely “worth it.”

If you’re looking for the crossover with the most capable 4WD/AWD system, that’s easily the Grand Cherokee. If you want the best handling option, that’d be the Grand Cherokee SRT and Edge Sport. The Santa Fe Sport is the discount player delivering high value with me-too styling. The Murano, unsurprisingly, strikes a comfy balance in the middle of the segment with exceptional fuel economy. If you’re looking for the best highway cruiser for a wine-tour weekend in Napa for four, the Murano is exactly the tall Maxima you’re looking for.

Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.37 Seconds

0-60: 7.07 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.44 Seconds @ 95 MPH

Average Economy: 24.2 MPG over 649 miles

 

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38 Comments on “Review: 2015 Nisssan Murano Platinum (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    210delray

    With a wild beltline highly reminiscent of the finned 1960 Dodge!

  • avatar
    wmba

    How is the V6 tuned down? It’s the standard one they’ve used for a decade in Nissans and that mini funeral hearse lookalike Infiniti JX35. They pretend to add or subtract 10 hp depending on marketing and model.

    The 350Z,the G37 and M series etc. (sorry I refuse to remember their new names before two cups of coffee) have DI and VVEL engines, which work like BMW Valvetronic – no throttle butterfly except for startup.

    That’s a much more expensive set of cylinder heads you’re not going to find in a relatively inexpensive Nissan like this one.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      This VQ is tuned down, currently in the Maxima it makes 290hp. In ’06 it was making about that in the G and Z cars w/ manual transmissions w/out DI or VVEL, so 240hp is significantly less. Clearly though, they upped the efficiency.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I’m not even a little bit of a fan of Nissan design language, but this is a pretty decent-looking vehicle. Except for the hideous door panels and steering wheel that you’d have to stare at every minute of your driving life. I couldn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I could live with the wheel, not so much the door panels. The rear quarter looks like a giant leaned on the roof and squished it. Not a fan.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It’s very Citroeny. I bet if they sold it here as a Citroen-branded DS-XV people would love it. Of course with Nissan it would have to be a Renault, and that doesn’t work as well.

    • 0 avatar
      nichjs

      If you’re staring at the steering wheel “every minute of your driving life”, you’re doing it wrong.

      And – you’re not going to live very long. :)

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    24.3 MPG…. my 350Z weighs about 1000lbs less and has about 60% the frontal area and struggles to get 20 MPG mixed. That’s really amazing.

    That said I hope Nissan moves to hot-V turbocharging on their V6s. This thing could gain some MPGs and be a legit alternative to something like an X5 or V8 JGC. Looks good aside from that bland center console.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Perhaps you’re being cynical. Because this MPG isn’t at all impressive. Just like TCain speaking rather positively about the Kia in his last review, these likewise are unimpressive.
      Isn’t this the reason for keeping that old engine and CVT in new model?
      In a review of the next gen Edge, the impressive 2.7 ecoboost is 20 MPG
      City MPG:17 Highway MPG:24
      And I think the new AWD (up to 100 percent shift to rear wheels)system in the Edge can be exciting considering the poor system they have been using.

      And as for the new Nissan rear look. I can’t handle this disappearing rear view any more. And this is really bad. I think I read the review well but see NO impression of the view, if any, out the back or the rear D.
      Is it me or are these getting worse.
      Perhaps Nissan is planning on introducing their soon to market rear cameras for side mirrors soon.
      I read a story on this several months back and Nissan has something big coming soon for this.
      This car really seems to need it.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    I like that gauge cluster… How does it work in bright light?

  • avatar
    shadow mozes

    But it’s so UGLY.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Is this the oldest V6 engine series in production? The VQ must’ve been way ahead of it’s time since it’s still a decent engine. I’m trying to think of an older V6, when did Honda’s J-series come out?

  • avatar
    baggins

    Will be a contender for the largest blind spots on the market.

    Interesting looking tho.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    We kept our ’03 Murano for 13 years and liked it, despite snarly comments here about its looks and CVT. It gave good service needing, besides routine items, two alternator replacements, one under warranty, one not. (To replace the alternator, the radiator had to be removed. Costly.) We held off buying a replacement until the new one appeared. It’s probably a decent car, but the design! Where did those rear quarter fins migrate in from? The late ’50s and early ’60s? And the big tooth chrome grill thingy? Maybe it was just Murano exhaustion, but we went elsewhere for its replacement.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Say what you want but damn that leather looks inviting…

    Like you could spread it on a cracker.

  • avatar

    I think it’s a pretty cool design. And you’re right. Compact CUVs are growing in size and content and giving their mid-sized 5-seater brethren a proper run for their money. The new Rogue offers 90% of what the Murano—up to now—has been able to offer, and for far less money. Ditto for the Escape versus the Edge. So the Edge and Murano, at least, appear to justify their existence by offering an increased level of styling and luxury.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Excellent tunes on the radio.

  • avatar
    immortalsix

    Nissan: we upsized the Rogue into a midsized crossover, we dumbed down the body-on-frame Pathfinder into a midsized crossover, and just wait ’til you get a load of our new Murano!

  • avatar
    fleeno

    I had a 2012 Murano, which was a great car. I was disappointed to see that they lowered the tow ratings, which is why I now have a 2015 Pathfinder. I really enjoy the Pathfinder, and I hope they update the interior electronics to be on par with the new Murano.

    The outgoing Murano was rated for towing 3500 lbs with 350 lbs on the tongue. It effortlessly towed my a-frame camper. I did add air bags to level it out. I had to do that with the new Pathfinder too, even when towing well under the limits.

    As for the engine being old, it is an old design, but it’s been on that Ward’s 10 best list many years in a row, though not recently. I’ve had 8 Nissans/Infinitis with variants of this same engine, and I’ve never had a single problem. I’ve had many of their CVTs a well, with no trouble. I do prefer the “real” transmission in my Infiniti, but I also like how my Pathfinder doesn’t hunt for gears when towing. It just goes!

  • avatar
    stodge

    Is this the same engine that leaks coolant in the Maxima?

  • avatar
    Nukester

    Nissan is WRONG regarding the tow issue. I for one was more than excited to purchase this vehicle but reducing the tow rating from 3500lb to 1500lb was inexcusable for me and automatically removed this otherwise exceptional vehicle from any consideration for me. Nissan removed the utility from SUV.

  • avatar
    MadOx75

    Why couldn’t they match the HP/Torque numbers from the Maxima? 290/261, I believe? The Maxima also uses a CVT.

  • avatar
    bd2

    The new Murano has consistently been getting pretty favorable reviews.

    The styling is not for everyone, but in its own manner, more cohesive than some of Nissan’s recent stylings.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Checked out one of these at the dealer recently. Wife has a ’10. Looking to possibly upgrade. You def sit “in” the 15 versus the previous gen where you sat a little higher. Not sure that is better or not. I want to say the wheelbase may be a little longer as well to smooth out the bumps. At the dealer, it showed the HP as 260 for ’15 versus the previous gen’s 265. Nor sure where the misinformation is, just going on what I saw. It’s nice looking but I think the new Rogue is better looking in and out.

  • avatar

    I came here to say that I thought this review was really well done Alex. Concise and balanced, critical where it matters.

    As for the car, Nissan did what they had to (and did previously in 2003). Make something that is completely eye-catching and very contentious. Contentiousness, when effectively branded as fashion, sells well despite the brand. The plush ride means would-be RX owners won’t feel hard done by. Well done Nissan.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I have to say I love the interior based on the pictures. I haven’t sat in a Nissan since 2011 – might be worth a poking around.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I love all the brown leathers and blue seat belt straps! The stainless-ish trim kind of turns me off, rather see a dark wood there. But this is a vast interior improvement over the last one. I spent some time with the new 2012 model when it came out, and I was very unimpressed with the interior. The ride on that one wasn’t great either, very jiggly over bumps.

    And hey, at least they’re taking a risk with the styling. Must give them kudos for that part.

    As I was reading the review, and given it was the Platinum trim, I was pricing it in my mind, and thought “I bet it’s near $50k now.” So I was surprised at $43k. The most direct comparison would seem to be the RX, where you’ll get more money when you go to sell it, and a more recognizable as-luxury badge.

    I don’t like how they turn down the engine power so much for these.


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