How many of those SUV drivers really go off road? Is it five percent?
Three? The Nissan Murano is meant for people who would like to carry
some cargo now and then but want a car, not a truck, for their daily
Nissan seems to
understand this, which is why the Murano looks the way it does. It is
sleek, rounded, and even startling compared to the common two-box
designs found elsewhere. The body contours sweep up from the low nose
with its flush-mounted headlamp units, then arc up over the long top,
dropping gracefully down to a tapered tail. The way the side windows
come to a point is especially notable, and is starting to be copied now.
Eighteen-inch alloy wheels give the vehicle big, sturdy feet, and chrome
twin exhausts convey sportiness. The smiling chrome grille, updated for
2006, makes a big impression.
You can tell this
crossover utility vehicle isnít meant to traverse the Rubicon Trail by
the names of the colors, such as Merlot, Chardonnay, and Glacier Pearl.
One of the print ads for the car shows people searching for antique
furniture, a perfect mission for the prospective Murano owner.
The Murano delivers
plenty of power to get wherever you want to go on road. Under the
tapered hood is Nissanís popular 3.5-liter dual-overhead-cam V6, which
sends 245 horsepower to those stylish alloys. The Murano is rated at 19
City, 24 Highway by the EPA, but I accumulated just 16.7 mpg, so it must
matter how and where you drive.
The car employs a
continuously variable transmission (CVT), which quietly and efficiently
finds the best part of the engineís power band at all times. Nissanís
Xtronic CVT uses a belt and two pulleys to create the perfect gear
ratio. This is especially handy during long uphill trips, where typical
automatics tend to hunt for the right gear. You donít hear the usual
shifting sound just a muted hum and I soon forgot all about it.
You can order your
Murano with all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. The main reason for
all-wheel drive in an onroad car is to increase usable traction in cases
of water, ice, or loose dirt. You can also order the optional
Dynamic Control Package
($750) and stack the deck in your favor with a traction control system,
a tire pressure monitoring system, and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC).
The latter controls brake pressure and engine torque automatically in
slippery road conditions or when the car is moving too much or too
little in a turn (oversteering or understeering).
trucklike about the Murano. The four-wheel independent suspension
provides a sporty, firm ride that makes it fun to get off the boring
straight roads. Vented disc brakes on all four wheels, with Electronic
Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) stop the car
straight and quickly.
Perhaps the best part
of driving the Murano is the feeling from the driverís seat. The bright,
airy cabin makes generous use of genuine aluminum for a high tech
effect, almost like an ultramodern European kitchen, and the exquisitely
modeled shapes and surfaces are a dream. The gauges sit in a metallic,
motorcycle-style binnacle in front of the driver and are illuminated in
orange. The audio system and standard 7-inch LCD color screen sit in a
floating pod design, very Star Trek. Thereís something boatlike about
the way the deep dash top and long windshield taper toward the front of
You can order up your
Murano in one of five models. The S and SL levels come in two-or
four-wheel-drive, while the top ranking SE is all-wheel-drive only. The
SE, which I was lucky enough to enjoy as my test car, also includes a
sport-tuned suspension with firmer springs, struts, and shock absorbers,
a manual shift mode for the CVT, unique wheels, an elegant dark silver
lower front bumper, extra powerful headlamps with a levelizer controlled
from inside the cabin, and a personal favorite, steering wheel-mounted
controls for the audio system.
Of course, youíre free
to add more. Nissan offers various packages, like a DVD entertainment
system for $1,720 or a navigation system for $1,800. My car had the SE
Touring Package, $4,650, which added things like leather seats, heated
in front, Sirius satellite radio, a sunroof, an upgraded audio system,
and adjustable pedals. To finish it off, my car had glistening chrome
wheels that added another $1,200. All of these extras served to push my
SE from a base of $31,550 to a sobering $42,445. For a price comparison
the base front-wheel-drive S model starts at only $27,450.
For fun, style, and
surprising practicality, the Murano offers a way out of the ubiquitous
box. Even the S model is loaded with performance, safety, and aesthetic
features, and you can equip your car like a luxury cruiser if want to.
You never know when you may need to carry home a new rack for the wine
cellar, do you? By
Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Nissan Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
offers a way out of the ubiquitous box
2006 Nissan Murano
The 2006 Nissan Murano
Nissan Internet Media
2005 - 59
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2006 Nissan Murano