The 2018 Nissan Murano retains its sharp design, creamy ride, and reasonably good fuel economy while adding a number of standard advanced safety features. But the continuously variable transmission (CVT) favors efficiency over performance, base model interiors look low-rent, while those edgy styling touches aren't for everyone.

Best Value

Starting at $31,775 for a front-wheel-drive base Murano S, prices rise to $45,200 for an all-wheel-drive Platinum model in optional Pearl White – with SV and SL trims in between. A single engine and transmission is offered in either front- or all-wheel drive.

Base models come with the usual power features plus an eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, LED taillights and daytime running lights, and a rearview camera, with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking added this year.

With one engine and transmission, the choice comes down to feature set. We'd pass on the base S but stop short of the SL with its less-than-premium leather seats and opt for the SV, which adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, an auto-dimming inside mirror, and power front seats, plus access to a number of luxury and advanced safety features.

Here's how we'd build it:

  • Model: 2018 Nissan Murano SV
  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6
  • Output: 260 hp / 240 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Continuously variable transmission
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • MPG: 21 City / 28 Hwy
  • Options: Premium Package ($2,790, 18-inch gunmetal alloy wheels, panoramic moonroof, Bose audio system, heated front seats and outside mirrors, around-view monitor, driver attention alert, and adaptive cruise control).
  • Base Price:$36,675 (including the $975 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$39,465

Performance

Nissan Murano

The front strut/rear multilink suspension delivers a composed, comfortable ride, while the CVT maintains the engine's sweet spot between power and fuel efficiency. At the same time, the old school hydraulic steering setup is nicely weighted with a pleasant on-center "dead spot" for serene highway cruising.

Things are far from perfect, as the 20-inch wheels found on Platinum models compromise ride quality, there's quite a bit of body lean in corners, and, despite fixed ratio points when pushed, acceleration is leisurely. At the same time, the AWD system is more suited for poor weather than off roading, while the Murano's 1,500-pound tow rating is low compared to competitors.

Style

Styling touches, like a floating roof, aggressive wheel arches, and bold creases, set it apart from the crowd, while a low dash offers excellent outward visibility. Hooded gauges give it a sporty feel, while, along with a natural driving position, there's plenty of headroom for tall front-seat occupants as well as two passengers in back.

On the flip side, the deeply sculpted outboard rear seats mean an uncomfortable center hump for a third passenger, the standard suede-like cloth looks unimpressive, and even the leather quality in top trims lags behind the competition.

The Best and Worst Things

The Murano's sharp design, comfortable ride, and safety features are impressive, but upper trims lack a number of true luxury touches, while the CVT underscores the Murano's colorless driving character.

Right For? Wrong For?

Nissan Murano

The Murano's comfortable ride, decent fuel economy, and wide range of standard and available safety technologies should appeal to families.

A V6 short on power paired to a fun-sucking CVT will likely keep enthusiasts at bay.

The Bottom Line

While it's hardly fun to drive, a comfortable ride, extensive feature set, and a wide range of standard and available advanced safety systems make the 2018 Nissan Murano a good choice for many buyers.