The Nissan Murano drives almost as well as a luxury sports sedan, but carries cargo like a Honda Pilot sport-utility. The Murano is a crossover vehicle, designed to haul cargo like a sport-utility, but ride and drive like a car. The Murano is different from most crossovers, however, in that it's biased toward the car part of the equation. It offers more of a car-like ambience and handles better on pavement than competitors like the Pilot and Toyota Highlander. One look is all it takes to know how different the Murano is. The Murano is designed to seat four or five people in comfort. Nissan resisted the temptation to cram three rows of seats inside like the Highlander and Pilot do. Like a car, the Murano has just two rows. It's not a substitute for a minivan, nor does it look like one. Murano's wild styling promotes better aerodynamics in addition to high fashion, starting with a sleek front end and a roof that curves inward. The futuristic look is backed by sporty performance. The Murano is powered by Nissan's beefy 245-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, the same engine found in the 350Z sports car. It comes with a continuously variable transmission, a high-tech automatic that's smooth and responsive. Murano's road-tuned suspension offers a smooth and sporty, carlike handling. All-wheel drive is available for better grip and stability in foul weather. The Murano shares much of its underpinnings with the Nissan Altima and Maxima sedans (but it is not related to the Infiniti FX). The Nissan Murano is an excellent choice for someone who wants the smooth ride and responsive handling of a car with the cargo space of an SUV or wagon. And it works well for dogs. The Murano was launched as a brand-new nameplate for 2003, and now comes pre-wired for a satellite radio receiver.