PLEASANT UNDER GLASS
Nissan shapes a new Murano
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Wed, Nov 11, 2015
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Zoran J. Segina
When reviewing a test car Dan Neil, a Pulitzer Prize winning automotive journalist, refuses to check MSRP imagining what would be the fair price for it. Using the same tactics, I overestimated the price of the new Nissan Murano by about five thousand dollars. And I was not alone. Several of my friends and acquaintances who saw it thought the car cost thousands more. That's why everybody loves the Murano.
The Murano can be described as a Goldilocks of cars. It’s a term used by astronomers to describe the right planet for sustaining life - neither too hot, nor too cold, not too far away from the star, neither too young nor too old – you get the idea. As to the Murano, this crossover is neither too big nor too small, not too expensive and yet it does not look cheap, and it has all the attributes of a perfect machine because it hits just the right notes. From the inside of the Murano, a driver feels it is steering a much larger and more massive car. And yet, the satellite cameras providing rear and front view (if the speed is below 5 mph), as well as a bird’s-eye view, and a separate lower right side view make parking in crowded spots a cinch.
The interplay of the light colors and faux wood inside is stunningly spectacular and contributes to a sense of high-end luxury. A beautiful half-dome clad in light beige leather covers the instrument cluster. On a bright sunny day the dome reflects glare onto a windshield and alters visibility unless the driver wears polarized sunglasses. On a cloudy day, however, the reflection seems to brighten the skies.
The Murano is a very good looking car. Front fascia is dominated by an aggressive nose which horizontally splits upper part with a logo and a black plastic grille which is accented in a U-shaped chrome and slopes upward toward steeply raked windshield. The headlight assembly is a continuum of the U shape and follows the same design motif through the front quarter panels and wheel wells with high beams circled by identification LED lights.
Similarly, the bottom of the black underskirt with a honeycomb pattern is repeated in the aerodynamic line which follows the shape of the wheel wells complemented by five spoke brushed aluminum wheels and continues all the way toward the rear.
The undulation that follows the hood resembles a boat hull moving forward. From the side it looks like the Murano is generating a wave from the bow to the stern. The sloping roof is framed by two railings; B pillars angle back while C pillars slope forward. The design idea is completed in a tightly tapered rear end with a spoiler above the rear window.
The undulating theme is continued inside. Front end is dominated by light color on top of which sits light wood and above it a darker section. Wood sloping toward the rear follows outside motif. The array of panels in different textures and colors makes high beltline much lower.
The driver looks at tachometer on the left and speedometer on the right with a center portion occupied by a multifunction screen – direction of travel, tire pressure, audio information, digital speedometer, digital clock, miles traveled and distance to empty as well as settings to adjust Murano every which way. The U shape found on the hood is repeated by a brushed aluminum inlay under ventilation openings. There are little ergonomic details everywhere showing Murano's attention to detail. The knee of my 5'10" frame (on a good day) occasionally bumps into the center console but this one, unlike many others, is softly padded.
This sense of harmony gives a feel of luxury. Behind interior lights control a razor beam illuminates a portion of the center console where one may leave keys and trinkets. A small opening can hold a cell phone with USB cable and a port. Under well-padded elbow rest there is a large box. The Tall Girl claims that the Murano has more leg room than many other cars she’s been in. She likes the air conditioning on a hot day, but finds the audio tinny. Jin is the harshest critic who, despite finding white plastic inlays and aluminum faux accents objectionable (“what is this, Formica?”), likes Murano. He finds the car very smooth with plenty of power and would not mind having one. Jin also likes the styling. He laments that nowadays a customer cannot distinguish one brand from the other, but finds Murano finds appealing. “If one bought a German import in the same class it would costs tens of thousands more.” Rear seats provide comfortable ride with a sufficient legroom even if the passengers in front are tall. The drive is smooth. On a tropical afternoon Murano can put you to sleep. Jin does not like overly comfortable cars prevent his from staying alert. On the other hand Jasmine notices that the seats are very cushiony, and there is no harshness one would expect in a car in this class. She thinks that the height of the Murano is just right for somebody who would like to have a truck but does not want to drive a big monster. According to Jasmine the seats are very good and the doors make good sound when they are closed. He Murano reminds her of the Range Rover Evoque. Once underway, the Murano is a pleasure to drive, especially on busy freeways. Sideview mirrors have installed warning lights if the car coming from behind is in the blind spot. Higher seating position provides a generous view over the traffic and this helps a lot. Even when crawling at no more than five mph, as long as here is a movement the automatic cruise control system will continue to work, including keeping the pre-determined distance from the car in front. Once the Murano is fully stopped, a beeping signal announces that this CUV intends to continue forward. It's time to brake. When the traffic moves a simple push on the Resume button will bring the Murano to its preset cruising speed. A commute to work after a busy weekend by simply moving a thumb is definitely more relaxing than paying attention to stop and go traffic because the Murano does it for the driver. Design glitches are barely perceptible. A ridge on the upward sloping hood - aesthetically very pleasing – reflects the sun in the morning and can blind the driver. The radar in the front keeps pre-determined distances, but in one nocturnal episode on Pacific Coast Highway, it refuses to recognize stopped cars ahead. The 45 mph cruising speed continues. My nervous foot presses the brake, long before the warning beep. It seems that most issues with the Murano are age-related. As in difference in age between a driver from the twentieth century and the technology from the twenty-first. The headlights are little weak (or is it my ageing eyesight?) Or that it takes me three days to figure how to keep the audio system on after I turn the engine off. The manual says to just push the start button once, but do not start the engine. Simple, no? When fast approaching obstacles on the road, the radar seems unable to stop the Murano in time – it prefers slowly rolling traffic. The cruise control system has a built in self-preservation mechanism - it beeps before the impact. While I am deliberately trying to keep the radar confused by aiming to the cars angling from the adjacent lanes the system incessant beeping is warning me that the Murano had enough. A drive on a packed segment of the Southbound 110 quickly proves why it is so difficult to create driverless mass-produced car. My using the radar while fighting traffic makes the Murano jerky and confused. This CUV refuses to recognize cars, then it leaves too much room; it either stops too fast or accelerates too slowly. I disconnect the system and take over. In the course of the next five minutes I am engaged in dozens of small maneuvers, and imperceptible changes in speed and direction. I am looking in the eyes of other drivers to determine whether they’ll let me into the lane or not, I slow down for the cars that cut in front of me. . . . . all of us on that road make hundreds of little intuitive decisions that are almost second nature and yet they are so incredibly complex requiring human interaction, experience, and observation. Because we are controlling tons of metal travelling fast, our miscalculation can have catastrophic and often deadly consequences. Don’t get me wrong, the radar system in the Murano is very good, but it is not a substitute for human brain. With the possible exception of that idiot in lane three. . . All joking aside, the Murano’s software cannot replace human experience and may not be able to do that for a number of years. From a purely technological point the autonomous system could be built, but with the size and cost unsuitable for an assembly line CUV like the Murano. Or any of the competitors in its class. Under the hood a black plastic cover sits atop a V6 with a continuously variable transmission. The engine space is easily accessible; my mechanics love the fact that it is easy to change belts and some electronic components and battery. It is clear that a lot of thought went into designing the Murano, both in and out. There is an old maxim that true class means doing things properly even if there is nobody around to observe. The trunk space in the Murano has eight hooks. Pull on one of the two handles and the split rear bench collapses. Under the trunk floor cover there is a huge spare tire with tire pressure monitor. And there is an extra little hook so that if one needs to change tire, the heavy cover will stay open. SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2015 Nissan Murano SL FWD Price: $36,950.00 (base) $40,305.00 (as tested) EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 21 /28 (La Car observed: 17.8) Engine type: 3.5 liter V6 gasoline engine Horsepower: 260 hp @ 6,000 rpm Torque: 240 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm Drive configuration: Front wheel drive Transmission type: Xtronic CVT Continuously Variable Suspension Front: Independent strut front suspension with stabilizer bars Rear: Multilink, stabilizer bars Steering: Rack and pinion power steering Wheels and tires: 18x7.5 inch aluminum alloy, with LX sport M+S and 235/65 R 18 unidirectional M+S Michelin tires. Brakes Front: 12.6 inch vented discs, ABS Rear: 12.1 inch vented discs, ABS Curb weight: 3847 lbs Got something to say? Add your Facebook comment regarding this article here. For more information about Nissan products, go to nissanusa.com Link opened into new tab: formulad.com/schedule/results