Stylish 2018 Nissan Murano disappoints on the curves | Scott Sturgis
2018 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD: A sharp looking crossover.
Price: $46,515 as tested; few options beyond the Platinum trim level, which includes and panoramic sunroof, all manner of safety features, and leather heated and cooled seats. A bare-bones front-wheel-drive Murano can be had for $30,080.
Marketer's pitch: "Nissan Murano elevates your experience."
Conventional wisdom: Motor Trend says you'll like "the quiet and comfortable interior; emergency automatic braking is now standard; standard NissanConnect with navigation" but not rear visibility and that "lane keep assist is not offered."
Reality: A bit more than meets the eye.
What's new: This midsize crossover has been hanging around since 2015. New comfort and safety options are added for 2018.
Up to speed: The 3.5-liter V-6 delivers 260 horsepower, which is a pretty nice number for a vehicle this size.
It provides for superior acceleration, as the vehicle hits 60 mph in 7 seconds, according to Motor Trend's test of a 2015 with the same engine.
Shiftless: The horsepower reaches the road through the gearless CVT and its delivery is smooth. Yet the engine seems to operate independent from the accelerator pedal, and there's no satisfying rhythm as the vehicle motivates its way onto highways.
On the road: On the curves, though, the Murano really left me disappointed. Handling was lethargic, and the Murano wanted to sway through some of the gentlest curves I travel often.
I got a real sense of how old-style American this felt because I'd just given up a BMW X3, so I knew how SUVs could feel with the right touch. But even the Volkswagen Atlas and Kia Sorento have better road feel than the Murano.
If you're going to name it after an island just north of Venice, give it some Italian flair. The handling was so vague that I worried it compromised stability and traction in bad weather, but that's just a wonder.
Note that the model did come with 20-inch wheels ($1,720); I wonder whether smaller wheels make things a little better. My worst-performing crossovers come with the largest wheels. It's worth checking into.
View of the road: The swoopy look of the Murano may draw in some buyers, but they may be drawn back out later. The short windshield and rear window made visibility trickier than even the trickiest crossovers. Still, one passed me on the highway a few weeks after testing, and it did turn my head again.
Driver's Seat: Driving position was also compromised by the styling, as I couldn't raise the seat to my liking without impacting my headroom.
On the positive side, though, I noticed something called NASA-Inspired Zero Gravity seats on the features list, and come to think of it, the seats were extraordinarily comfortable.
Friends and stuff: We had the opportunity to fill up the back seat on one trip, and the Sturgis Kids reported that rear legroom, headroom and foot room were all good. Even the middle seat occupant was not too annoyed.
Cargo space is 32 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 67 with it folded down.
Play some tunes: The Bose premium sound system came with an 8-inch touchscreen but also with enough knobs and buttons outside the screen that most functions weren't too difficult. Some recent Nissan examples have been a cacophony of buttons, but it wasn't that.
Sound was in the A- territory — it was really pretty clear, but without adjustments beyond treble and bass.
Keeping warm and cool: The heater controls feature dials for temperature and fan speed and buttons for location. Everything functioned well.
Night shift: The ambient lighting was definitely subtle in the Murano — so subtle it can be hard to see inside the cabin. On the bright side, though — so to speak — it didn't interfere with the headlights.
The LED headlights provide a clear glow, but they shine a little low for my needs. I found myself relying on the high beams too much and then forgetting to dim them for my fellow travelers. Sorry.
Fuel economy: I averaged just under 24 mpg in the usual Mr. Driver's Seat round of testing. The Murano is not picky about its fuel.
Where it's built: Canton, Miss.
How it's built: Consumer Reports gives the Murano a 3 out of 5 for reliability.
In the end: If you value comfort and speed over everything else, the Murano is worth a look. It gets a Consumer Reports recommended rating, but I wouldn't go that far. When I start getting into over $45k for a vehicle, I start thinking Volvo or Lexus, or at least might go for an Explorer or Durango.