|  First Published: June 2010

When I first drove the Nissan Murano a few years ago I felt that it was the SUV to beat when it came to comfort, roominess, features and sheer pleasure of the driving experience.

The ultra smooth V6 motor mated to CVT (constantly variable transmission) made effortless work of any formed road and could take the car a long way into gravel or unformed roads as well. My thoughts at the time were that the car would not be improved on much: but it has been!

At first glance the 2010 Nissan Murano doesn’t look much different to its predecessor but comparing the two cars side by side reveals a good deal of difference. The 2010 car is an entirely new unit with a redesigned body shell claimed to be 45% stiffer than the old, new interior features, plus a few subtle changes to the exterior body work and a new moon roof as well.

SUV moulds broken

A test drive of the top of range Ti Murano revealed that everything that made the Murano driving experience memorable was still there, only better. The Bose stereo system with its multitude of speakers was even sharper, no question about that. And the feel of being pampered as one settled into real leather (heated) seats featuring eight way power adjustment (as per memory for the driver) was tangible. And as the steering wheel moved back to its pre-set location at the touch of the start button there was just one statement: This is a true luxury car. An SUV it might be but it sets standards for comfort and driving for the sheer pleasure of it.

And it looks great. Forget the boxy standard SUV look we have come to regard as the norm. The Murano breaks a lot of the traditional SUV moulds and does so in some style.

Inside the new Murano there’s room. Lots of it for front and rear passengers and there’s a massive boot as well. And if the rear seat is unoccupied and more cargo space is required all it takes is small pull on the side mounted release handles and the 60/40 split fold rear seats automatically fold down flat as required.

The rear cargo door also has a few tricks up its sleeve. Again the touch of a button will either raise it or close and lock it tight with a slow but determined ‘chunk’.

Other luxurious Murano touches include dual climate control air, the magical Bose stereo with its 11 speakers and 6 stack CD and radio unit, a user friendly SatNav system linked to a reversing camera and a very compliant smart key entry with push button engine start up system.

Naturally, along with the power-everything concept of the Murano, as many controls as possible are on the leather bound steering wheel including the Blue Tooth system, radio controls, cruise control just to mention some. Even the transmission selector, which can be flicked to the side for 6 manual changes, is leather bound.

Storage is well thought out within the passenger compartment with nooks and crannies everywhere, while the large lower door pockets can expand to accommodate larger items when necessary.

Arguably it’s the dash treatment that’s most outstanding so far as interior features are concerned. Gauges, backlit with shades of red, are set into a neat, easily monitored cluster much like the sporty 370Z, which shares the same engine only in a more highly tuned state.

Good as all this is, driving the Murano is even better.

Power to spare

Sharing the same engine as the 370Z gives the Murano an air of sophistication but it must be remembered that the power plant is de-tuned in the SUV. That aside the 3.5L V6 turns out a respectable 191kW with 336Nm of torque from its 24 valve DOHC engine powering all wheels via the CVT transmission. It’s an interesting experience, that CVT. On acceleration both speedo and tacho seem to climb at about the same rate but there’s no feeling of gear changes, just a neat and smooth progression to the speed limit and well beyond if you’re not careful.

Safety features include EBD and Vehicle Dynamic Control system and there is a plethora of air bags all round.

The ride is fully controlled by the McPherson strut on the front, and multilink system at the rear so that all road irregularities are fully ironed out by the 18” alloy wheels and are not likely to be felt within the Murano’s interior.

This is a driver’s car; visibility over the wide expanse of dash and low-slung bonnet is virtually uninterrupted and the sleek rounded SUV has a car-like feeling of poise that is reassuring. The speed sensitive steering means that the faster the car goes, the more precise the steering. The Murano is truly a car for fast point-to-point times on back roads and the like.

Driven gently and sensibly with 100kph on the highway requiring only around 1650-1700rpm fuel consumption will impress at around the 12.5L per 100km. The fuel tank is 82L so a reasonable touring range is assured.

Towing capability is rated as 1500kg for a braked trailer so most boaters will be able to get their rig to and from the ramp.

Price of the 2010 Murano Ti is around the $57,890 mark, which reflects the overall quality of the top of range package. The little brother ST still offers leather seating and nearly all of the fruit for a considerable saving.

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