2019 Nissan Murano First Drive - Status, Quo

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Nissan’s strategy for both the 2019 Maxima large sedan and the 2019 Murano crossover is the same – make minor tweaks as part of a mild refresh.

My thoughts on the Maxima are stated here. As for the Murano, well, read on.

(Full disclosure: Nissan flew me to San Francisco, put me up in a beautiful hotel, and fed me some great meals. They left us with snacks and a candle – I ate the snacks but left the candle.).

Nissan considers the Murano a crossover for the kidless – or rather, those who have adult children who’ve left the home. It’s the “empty nester” CUV to go along with the Kicks (for singles) and the Rogue Sport (for singles/childless couples). The Rogue is for the small family, the Pathfinder for the bigger family, and the Armada for the biggest family.

Of course, this is all marketing projection by Nissan – I’m sure there are parents out there who drive a Rogue Sport or a Murano, or even a Kicks. Crossovers exist to basically be tall wagons, after all.

Safety matters to crossover buyers, whether in a family way or not, and just like with the Maxima, the Murano now has Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 available. It includes blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, high-beam assist, and rear automatic braking. Add standard rear-door alert, too. This system alerts you when you leave items on the rear seat.

Other changes include three new paint color choices (the Maxima adds just one), a bigger grille, updated LED headlamps and taillamps, new LED fog lamps, and new 18- and 20-inch wheel designs. Inside, you get leather with diamond quilting, and some trim and color updates. The available nav system gets some upgrades, as well.

Power still comes from a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, and it still mates to a continuously-variable automatic transmission. You can get front-wheel or all-wheel drive across all trims.

That engine is adequate if not overwhelming, and the CVT behaves relatively peacefully. The steering remains hefty but a bit numb. Constant corrections are needed, and the tires speak from a distance, when they communicate at all. A sports car on stilts, the Murano ‘tis not.

Not that it matters – many mid-size crossovers offer a numb driving experience, and the Murano is one of the least-worst offenders I’ve driven in this size class. There’s a hint of something here, even if merely a hint. It’s more engaging than an Edge or Acadia, although not as infused with personality as a Jeep Grand Cherokee or an Infiniti QX50.

Ride quality strikes a balance between soft and firm, making for a relaxed drive on the mostly pleasant California road surfaces. In other words, it’s boring but acceptable. Especially considering how crossovers are generally driven. The Starbucks run will not be a chore.

Interior quality is relatively upscale, although my test unit had some minor squeaks and rattles, even when the cupholders were emptied of bottles.

Head and leg room were fine for this tall tester, and like with the Maxima, the seats are all-day comfortable.

I mostly approve of the Murano’s exterior looks – I like the sloping hood, larger grille, and the side profile that appears to give this trucklet an aggressive stance. It’s still a bit on the anonymous side, as most crossovers are, but it’s stylish enough to make you think it’s sporty.

Other available features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, four USB ports, heated front and rear seats, panoramic moonroof, navigation, 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, premium audio, LED fog lights, and remote engine start.

There’s four trim levels: S ($31,270), SV ($34,440), SL ($39,230), Platinum ($43,530). Tack on $1,600 to each for AWD, and D and D isn’t part of that listing.

After undergoing a minor nip/tuck, the Murano remains what it was. That means a sporty looking, if not driving, crossover that won’t bore you on your commute, and feels upscale. It will work just fine for all but a handful of crossover shoppers. There’s worse things on the market.

If you care about driving but must drive a crossover, the Murano won’t be your first choice, but you could live with it.

That may be damning with faint praise, but I don’t mean it to be that harsh. This is simply a segment where priorities lie elsewhere. And the Murano is appealing when considered through that lens.

Status quo suits it just fine.

[Images © 2018 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Dec 20, 2018

    When a car is being driven stupidly, it is either a Rogue or Murano....but usually a Rogue. No, it's always a Rogue. There is actually a unicorn Murano convertible around here.

  • Volks92 Volks92 on Dec 26, 2018

    I drove a couple of these in Platinum trim while my car was in the shop; I have no complaints other than the vague steering. For the average person, these seem to be good value for the money. There's a level of comfort that reminds me of old-school French cars, fuel economy is decent and the VQ35DE is still a great engine even with the CTV.

  • Aja8888 Folks, this car is big enough to live in. Dual deal: house and car for $7 large.
  • Astigmatism I don't think tax credits will put me in this league, but if I could swing it, I would 1000% go for a restomod EV Grand Wagoneer: https://www.thedrive.com/news/you-can-buy-an-electric-80s-jeep-grand-wagoneer-for-295000
  • FreedMike I like the looks of the Z, but I'd take the Mustang. V8s are a disappearing breed.
  • Picard234 I can just smell the clove cigarettes and the "oregano" from the interior. Absolutely no dice at any price.
  • Dartdude The Europeans don't understand the American market. That is why they are small players here. Chrysler Group is going to die pretty soon under their control. Europeans have a sense of superiority over Americans that is why the Mercedes merger didn't work out and almost killed Chrysler. Bringing European managers aren't going to help. Just like F1 they want our money. We need Elon Musk to buy out Chrysler, Dodge and Ram from Stellantis.
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