“I believe that this new product has an even larger possible market than just baby boomers…”

When the original Nissan Murano was introduced in 2002, it was one of a number of car-based crossover vehicles that helped build the mid-size family SUV category.

What that original model had was a unique take on design that made it stand out from the crowd. Here we are in 2015 and Nissan wants to recapture some of that original sizzle with this third generation Murano. With a bold, eye-popping design that looks like nothing on the road, this latest model has a sharper price, an upscale interior and refined ride that Nissan believes will appeal to the baby boomers this vehicle is targeted at. After spending a very full day driving around California’s Napa valley, I believe that this new product has an even larger possible market than just baby boomers.

Looks

Since the 2015 Nissan Murano is just about to hit dealership floors, the Napa region was the first in North America to get to see it. By the reaction from other drivers on the road, this mid-sized people mover gets a lot of attention. The bold front design now incorporates the headlamp treatment that will start to migrate across its other vehicles, like the new Maxima coming soon. The wedge shaped look is referred to as a boomerang and it is mimicked in the rear lights as well. Both the front and rear have LED accents and the main headlamps are LED on the top trim levels. The other design highlight is the roof, that looks like it is floating thanks to a blacked out rear windows and roof pillars. This design also features curvaceous rear hips, making the design modern and stylish. Now sold as front wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), and priced from $29,998, the Murano is an option for many potential buyers. It is too bad that only the top Platinum model comes with 20-inch wheels, all the other trim levels are fitted with 18-inch wheels.

Inside

The interior is a reason that many people will consider this product, not just affluent baby boomers. The design is simple but looks upmarket; the Murano might be an alternative to buying a Lexus RX350, for less money, or a young family wanting something more upscale than a compact SUV, for not much more money. The dash and surrounding materials all looks first rate. The trim that looks like wood isn’t, rather a plastic that mimics wood but some might think it feels cheap but it certainly looks good. The base $29,998 (FWD) S-Trim isn’t base at all thanks to heated front seats, Bluetooth, navigation, backup camera and satellite radio. The next model up is the $32,998 (FWD) SV and it adds a power driver’s seat, huge moon roof, a power lift gate and heated steering wheel. There is also the $38,398 (AWD) SL that includes leather seats, Bose stereo and more or the top $43,498 (AWD) platinum that amps up the goodies to include heated rear seats, cooled front seats, 20-inch wheels and a host of safety features.

Drive

The 260hp 3.5L V6 engine is a carry over from the last model but the body of the new Murano is 66kg lighter. This and a modified continuously variable transmission (CVT) helps to improve fuel economy to 11.2L/100km in the city and 8.3L/100km on the highway, using the new, stricter fuel ratings for 2015. The tuning of the Murano is very relaxed, almost luxury-like. The steering is very easy to operate; some might find it too light. The pace at which the CVT works is very subdued, meaning the car wants to be in the low RPM range to help extract the best economy but when pushed it can take a while to wake the car up. To get around this there are now set shift points in the CVT that can be accessed through the transmission’s manual mode. It would be better to have a sport setting for the CVT but it isn’t offered.

Verdict

Overall the packaging of the 2015 Murano is very good. The interior has plenty of room for the front and rear passengers and the seats are comfortable. The cargo area is very big and the square shape of the hatch makes loading easier. This product should be attractive to buyers of compact SUVs that want more room and V6 power for just slightly more. Shoppers of premium brands who want a refined ride and interior for less money should consider the higher trim levels. This new Murano will certainly get attention for its exterior styling, but dig deeper there is more to this product than just an attractive look, there is value and comfort that is available to a wide range of potential buyers.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca


The Lowdown

Power: 3.5L V6 with 260hp

Fill-up: 11.2L/8.3L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $29,998-$43,498

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