Launched nearly 15 years ago, Nissan’s five-passenger Murano crossover is now in its third generation and ranks among the most contemporary and distinctively-designed models in the segment. Daringly stylish and lushly comfortable, it’s little-changed for 2017, apart from Apple CarPlay availability.

Pricing and Equipment

Starting at $30,720 (destination charge included) as a 2017.5 model, the Murano comes in S, SV, SL, and Platinum trim levels. Every Murano comes standard with a 3.5-liter, 260-horsepower V6, which works with a continuously variable transmission – the only powertrain decision owners need to make is whether they want the optional, $1,600 all-wheel-drive system.

The Murano SL ($38,240) includes:

  • Heated, leather-upholstered, powered front seats with driver's memory
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Foglamps
  • Navigation
  • Bose 11-speaker audio
  • Apple CarPlay
  • 8.0-inch touchscreen

SL and Platinum versions include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and a surround-view camera system with moving object detection. Adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are optional. A Midnight Edition of the Murano debuted during the 2017 model year.

Performance Pros

Nissan Murano
  • Splendid, gentle ride quality, unless 20-inch wheels – standard with Platinum trim – are mounted. The Murano’s suspension effectively irons out much of the worst pavement surfaces.
  • Predictable handling and easygoing feel stem from the Murano’s car-like foundation.
  • Steering feels relaxed when moving forward, tightening appropriately while rolling through curves.
  • Acceleration is peppier than we expected when starting off, while quickly-needed passing power is surprisingly strong – not the typical characteristics of CVTs. When accelerating swiftly, the CVT’s virtual “gears” mimic a conventional automatic transmission, but engine speed stays low when taking it easy on the gas pedal.

Performance Cons

  • Ride can feel a little too soft and mannerly to suit some folks’ tastes.
  • Body lean can be an issue when cornering hastily.

Interior Pros

  • Excellent sound insulation results in a practically silent cabin, which exudes a serene, refined ambiance.
  • Classy interior design is clean, simple, and particularly well-organized. Control interfaces use actual buttons, where appropriate.
  • Driving position could hardly be better, and exemplary seat height eases entry/exit. Relatively low instrument panel excels for drivers of shorter stature.
  • Contoured “Zero Gravity” seats are comfortable for long journeys. Rear seats are among the most comfortable in the entire crossover league.

Interior Cons

  • Lower cushions of seats don’t provide quite enough thigh support to please taller drivers.
  • Seat comfort in the center rear position is minimal – a distressing defect found in plenty of vehicles nowadays, essentially turning five-passenger models into four-seaters.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Even the S and SV trim levels are generously equipped, making them the value leaders of the group.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Crash-test scores have been inconsistent. NHTSA gave the Murano five stars for side impact, but only four stars overall and in the frontal collision event. IIHS awarded Top Safety Pick status, but only for SL and Platinum trims that were equipped with automatic emergency braking.

The Bottom Line

Ride comfort and cabin quietness are Murano high points. Unlike some stylishly modern models, what might be dubbed the extroverted exterior doesn’t shrink passenger space. The SL trim level includes at least some active-safety features, with others optional.