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First Drive: 2015 Nissan Murano SL

2015 Nissan Murano SL

To auto makers, concepts cars define the forthcoming of their products, showing the world a Jetson’s kind of future. The problem with conceptual designs is that they aren’t real, and the likely hood of seeing a production version of what is showcased is almost unrealistic…. that is, unless you’re Nissan.

Ever since the Nissan Murano was hitting the streets way back in 2003, it had always dared to be different. Back then the design was edgy for the era, entraining a spunk value to its consumers. After a long 12 year cycle, needless to say, Nissan sharpened their pencils and pushed the design limits again ultimately creating a brand new Murano that is unlike anything else on the road.

Nissan claims they wanted to start bringing their conceptual designs to life, and the new Murano is a prime example of that. Now we’ll admit, when our sampled Murano arrived wearing its Java Metallic brown paint, we weren’t too thrilled with its color – but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the Murano’s anomalous arches and jazzy silhouette. Summing up the Murano’s intention, there isn’t a normal design cue about it. Everything has a piercing, unyielding crease from the LED daytime running lamps, the weird crest point in the rear side panel to the body hugging LED taillights.

With the right color choice, the new Murano is a good looking crossover. Nestled one trim below the top tier Platinum, our tester was the SL, which offered handsomely standard 18” alloys that overall gave an attractive SUV stance and the ability to jump any grocery store parking curbs to get that last box of girl scout cookies.

It is interesting however to read how Nissan describes the Murano’s new interior calling it a “lounge on wheels” – we’re going to agree to disagree. While we may not necessarily consider the Murano’s interior to be “lounge” quality, it does present a welcoming atmosphere. Our sampled brown interior was exquisite, mixed with contrasting silver trimmed wood and decorative amber LED accent lighting.

Interior wise, the design falls similarities to the exterior having a stylish perception. The dash expresses multiple arches and angles mixed with piano black and silver trim that makes it an enjoyable cabin – downside is the materials do feel a little on the cheap side .The large 8” Navigation/Infotainment system does make for a great center piece that ties the dash together that also manages to be driver friendly having a tablet-like interface – there is a bit of learning curve to its operation however.

For marketing purposes, Nissan uses these NASA inspired Zero Gravity seats (also found in the Nissan Altima) that expresses a fair amount of comfort, but shows signs of fatigue just after a couple hundred miles. Rear seats showcased accommodating leg and headroom that could easily fit three full-sized adults. Our tested SL was notably well equipped featuring power adjustable heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, Bose premium audio, blind spot monitoring, surround-view back-up camera and a rear power-lift tailgate.

Even after 12 years, we are still left with the same ole 3.5-liter 260 horsepower V6. But why fix what isn’t broken? The Murano easily reaches 60 mph in about 7 seconds through a CVT transmission – which is pretty good for a crossover. Unless you know what a CVT is, you’ll probably never realize you have it – Nissan has nearly perfected the CVT tranny and shows great improvement in the Murano providing a decent power band that is constantly on tap. The Murano also incorporates a shift-for-yourself function through the gear lever offering 7-simulated gears.

CVT’s main purpose is to optimize fuel efficiency. EPA rates the Murano at 21/28/24 (city/highway/combined). During our week, we recorded 20 mpg in the city and a total 28 mpg combined. Using regular grade fuel, the Murano will achieve approximately 430 miles to tank.

If the Murano had any similarities to other crossovers on the road, it’s the ride quality – its smooth, refined and provides a comfortable driving experience. By adding sound proofing materials, the Murano also expresses a quiet cabin space. But the biggest problem we face is the handling, the steering is heavy and vague – doesn’t really provide any driver feedback.

As seen here, our tester is 38-grand, and we find that a tad expensive considering we didn’t even have any options. But if you’re looking for something different, something that stands out from the typical silver painted crossover parked outside your local Whole Foods, than the Murano is probably your best bet.

Price (As Tested):
2015 Nissan Murano SL FWD: $36,950
Destination: $885
Grand Total: $37,835


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