Nissan’s “Innovation that Excites” marketing tagline often falls a bit flat—we’re still searching for any excitement or innovation in the Versa or Sentra, for example—but in the case of the 2015 Murano, it’s right on the money. Whether or not you think the Murano is attractive, its design certainly couldn’t be called derivative or boring. This is a design that busts the mid-size crossover segment wide open like the Kool-Aid man bursting through a wall. Heck, we think the design of the production crossover looks even more expressive than that of the Resonance concept on which it is based, which doesn’t happen often.
The 2015 Murano’s look might seem extreme, but the nameplate has a
history of envelope-pushing design dating back to the first-generation
model introduced for 2003. With its high-style-on-a-budget mission
statement, the Murano’s long been positioned as the semi-luxurious
choice in the mid-size crossover segment, straddling the line between
mainstream offerings such as the Ford Edge, Honda Pilot, and Toyota
Highlander, and edgier entries like the Acura RDX and Infiniti QX50.
Without a drop of irony, Nissan calls the two-row, five-passenger Murano
its “flagship crossover,” essentially relegating the larger three-row Pathfinder to pedestrian family hauler duty.
Relative to today’s soft-edged Murano,
the 2015 model exhibits a far more aggressive countenance. The Murano’s
V-shaped front end, boomerang-shaped headlights and taillights, and
robust fender sculpturing carry over nearly verbatim from the sporty
Resonance concept. Most surprisingly, the show car’s rear quarter panel
“hump” that reaches for the corner of the roof panel survived the
design’s evolution to production. A cleverly placed blackout trim piece
covers each D-pillar and gives the impression of a floating roof
supported by a thin wand of glass extending from the front windows on
Nissan added 2.5 inches of length and 1.3 inches of width, and also
shaved some height to make the 2015 Murano appear lower and wider, and
it pays off. This is an athletic-looking design, especially in profile,
and we like the crossover’s aggressive stance. It stands apart from the
crowd—which is no small feat in the typically milquetoast mid-size
crossover arena. And the amped-up style doesn’t come at the expense of
passenger space, which is roughly equivalent to that of the previous
generation. Rear legroom increases by 2.4 inches, while headroom, hip
room, and shoulder room don’t change appreciably.
We’re fairly certain, however, that the interior’s minor dimensional
tweaks will garner less attention than the exterior. Nissan calls the
cabin’s appearance “lounge-like,” but we think it’s more womb-like.
Every surface is rounded and conveys a warm, enveloping
feeling—especially cuddly when the light-hued Cashmere color scheme is
Underneath the Murano’s designer duds lies a fairly run-of-the-mill
chassis. Nissan again utilizes a front strut, rear multi-link
independent suspension setup, and front-drive is standard with all-wheel
drive remaining optional. Every Murano is powered by a carry-over
3.5-liter V-6 engine making 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, and
Nissan’s JATCO-supplied Xtronic CVT is the only transmission choice.
While the V-6 should be sufficient, we’re a bit disappointed Nissan
didn’t squeeze more power out of it; 260 ponies isn’t a lot of output
for a 3.5-liter, especially in the face of similarly powerful—but more
efficient, at least to the EPA—turbo fours from competitors.
Thanks to: Car and Driver