Nissan Murano Sets the Pace
  |  First Published: September 2009

First introduced in Australia in 2005, the Nissan Murano crossover SUV has always been one to stand out from the crowd with real appeal mated to serious performance and refined appointments.

For 2009 the Murano has undergone a serious face-lift. Somewhat sharper, just as wide and high as ever, and with differing panels from the previous model, the 2009 Murano carries on a good thing with more power, more torque, and improved fuel consumption. It looks somewhat the same, but the similarity ends rapidly should the two models be parked side by side for comparison. The grille is outstandingly different for a start. And there's now a full sized alloy spare in the spacious boot.

New platform

Murano Mark Two is based on a new platform; there's a larger interior, not that the old one was cramped, mated to an impressive list of goodies to pamper driver and passengers alike at reduced prices. Even the entry level ST scores leather seating, steering wheel trim and gear selector, CVT auto, dual climate control air, electric front seat adjustment, cruise control, power windows and mirrors and 18” alloys. The reviewed Ti version comes home with all the above plus a very user friendly Sat/Nav system, auto-on wipers and headlights (Xenon lights at that), LED tail lights, rear view camera, power tail gate and rear seat control, heated front seats plus Bluetooth electric steering wheel adjustment. Ah, yes, and a brilliant 11 speaker Bose sound system that would blow the socks off a teenybopper. Yet with that almighty sound system turned off the only sound within the cabin of the Murano at highway speeds is a slight wind whisper.

Nissan has stayed with their tried and proven all aluminium 3.5L V6 for the upgraded Murano although now it comes with increased power to 191 kW and increased torque to 356Nm. It does indeed sound like a potent package but let's not forget there is 1.8 tonne of metal being hauled around via a Constantly Variable Transmission system which in itself is quite intriguing. Seems that no matter how hard you go, the engine just hums at around the same revs while the CVT does all the work, albeit silently at that, with drive being apportioned to both front and rear wheels proportionately.

There is a 4WD Lock available for sticky situations but most drivers won't take the Murano too far off formed tracks, forest trails, maybe sections of beach with hard packed sand, in their proposed usage of the vehicle.

Planting the foot hard, with manual gear changes (available if required at a flick of the stubby gear selector) does cause quite a stir with the fuel injected 24 valve V6 pushing the Murano to three figures of speed in less than 9 seconds. Mind you, that sort of spirited engine response is going to knock the claimed 10.9L per 100km fuel consumption around significantly. On that topic I managed 11.5L per 100km on a mix of city and country work; fuel tank capacity is 82 litres.

Ride hard to fault

As a city commuter, country tourer, or for the occasional off road foray the Nissan Murano Ti is a hard vehicle to pass up if one likes refinement, comfort and style rolled into one package. The ride in the five seater is more sedan than station sedan with the car, when pushed, holding a good line into bumpy bitumen corners without excessive body roll or lurching. The speed sensitive steering is just so good in that regard.

Similarly, bush tracks or corrugated back roads are no real effort for the vehicle's supple suspension that features independent struts with stabilizer bar up front and a sophisticated multi link independent rear suspension.

I enjoyed a country run with the Murano and negotiated a range of off road driving without any drama whatsoever. Ground clearance is limited, naturally, but bush tracks are no real drama. With the rear seats folded down I did manage to put in plenty of camping gear, that's for sure.

Safety wise, the Murano comes with six airbags, stability control ABS and other features but over riding is the sense of refinement the driver, in the high and well padded leather seat (with heater) experiences as the car just goes about it's business without any fuss whatsoever.

In all there is a lot to like about the new Nissan Murano Ti. As an SUV crossover style vehicle it certainly packs in the features and while it's unique looks may not appeal to everyone but there is no taking away the refinement of the marquee. Price for the Ti is around the $56,990 mark while the ST comes home for around $49,990.

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