2017 Nissan Murano Midnight Edition: One of the Wildest

Now in its third generation, starting in 2015, the Murano is one of the wildest designs on the road in the SUV class. When you really dive in, however, you find that it’s only skin-deep and what’s underneath is a very basic and very good vehicle. Starting with the engine, Nissan has a venerable 3.5-Liter V6, sporting-variable valve timing but not the advanced Turbos and direct injection that many of its competitors have. Cranking out a satisfying 260hp, the power is good – but there is a lack of torque that means low rpm grunt is a bit lacking. Rated at 21mpg city and 28mpg highway, the efficiency is quite good considering the relative simplicity of the powertrain.

One of the reasons the torque isn’t quite enough is the CVT transmission. We talk a lot about how on paper, a CVT is the best for mileage – and here it surely contributes to the respectable efficiency. But in terms of driving feel, when you step on the gas to pass someone or need to accelerate from a steady speed, there’s a noticeable lag that makes the car feel almost broken for a second while the ratio adjusts. The sensation is that it has to wind up before it gets going. When we tested the Nissan Altima with the same engine/transmission combo, it felt much more direct due to the lower weight.

All that aside, the impression you get while driving is still fun and engaging – especially the handling. The chassis feels good, but a bit quicker steering ratio would make it even better. From the outside, the look is pure athletic – starting with a very aggressive grille and headlights, and transitioning to a muscular belt-line around the side of the car. It’s one of the wildest-looking SUV’s on the road, but it doesn’t quite live up to that from behind the wheel.

That’s no reason not to like the Murano, as it does represent good value. Even our Platinum AWD Midnight-Edition car, which also included the technology package, ended up around $43k. That’s quite a lot of space and function for your dollars. With some impressive technology and safety features, you’re not really missing much in the Murano. While forward-collision warning, automatic braking and radar cruise-control are optional, they worked quite well on our test car. We always recommend getting as many of the safety features you think you can afford. They really do help keep accidents from happening, or at least reduce their severity.

Included on some of the trim levels is also a blind-spot monitor and rear-cross traffic alert. We know there’s a place in the market for the budget versions – a Front-Wheel-Drive Murano S starts at under $30k – but remember, having more options does pay on the back end with better resale value. Visibility does suffer due to the design choices made on the exterior, so the added safety features and cameras will come in handy. The high hood and raised window sills coupled with the large D-pillars obscure quite a few angles.

Nissan’s infotainment system is pretty simple to use, having great connectivity features for smartphones. Even rear-seat passengers can take control of the system with the rear USB port. Another great interior feature are the ‘zero gravity’ seats, which are quite comfortable. We spent a good amount of time in one, and never had our backs get tired or sore. Everyone’s a little different, but if you have back pain this might be a good option. Real attention was paid to the seats being comfortable, which you can tell from the moment you sit down.

Overall, the combination of quirky looks – we particularly dislike the back‘d-pillar’ design – value and comfort makes this one to consider. While the driving experience doesn’t quite live up to the wild exterior, this is still a worthy contender to consider.


By Jason Saini

Special thanks to The Autobarn Nissan of Evanstonfor providing the 2017 Nissan Murano for review.

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