The nine lives of Nissan. If you feel like Nissan’s third-generation Murano has been around for a while, you’d be absolutely right. Launched nine model years ago and largely unchanged ever since, this crossover SUV finds itself competing in a market where cabin design and fuel economy have moved on somewhat. Nobody considers 23 MPG on the combined cycle to be decent these days, while rival infotainment systems have evolved far beyond a basic eight-inch touchscreen and a stock stereo system.

Externally at least, the Murano manages to hide its age. Its bold V-shaped nose remains striking even in 2023, with headlights seemingly capped by chrome brows alongside matching chromework on the D-pillar. There’s a strong family resemblance to other Nissans at the rear, while the overall aesthetic is handsome enough. It’s one of few cars which look good in a beige paint job, though Nissan offers some striking metallic shades as alternatives.

Cabin (non)fever. The same sense of pleasant-but-dated has infiltrated the Murano’s cabin. Fine in the mid-2010s, it looks dated today with three banks of buttons surrounding a relatively low-set eight-inch screen. Fans of symmetry will nod approvingly, but it’s all a bit underwhelming when you look at the interiors Volvo and Jaguar are installing into their XC40 and E-Pace models. The materials also underwhelm – they’re not cheap by any means (especially the standard leather in SL and Platinum models), but they’re a bit old-sedan for our liking.

There’s more to appreciate in terms of space and comfort. The decision not to squeeze in a third row of seats means second-row passengers enjoy 39 inches of legroom, while every model bar the base S receives power adjustment for its squashy, armchair-like front seats. If you avoid the optional sunroof, headroom is fine for all but the unusually tall, and the trunk can be expanded from 32 cubic feet to 67 by dropping the rear seats.

2022 Nissan Murano Interior

Leisure, not pleasure. Few buyers would expect the Murano to be a fireball on the road. As a result, the sluggish steering and lightweight 1,500lb towing limit are unlikely to disappoint. Performance is more of an issue – the 3.5-liter V6 is a well-proven unit, but it’s having to pull 4,000 pounds of car around. Add in a typically whiny CVT box, and what performance there is has to be dragged out of the Murano’s engine bay. This becomes more of an issue outside urban areas, or when fully loaded. One of the few dynamic positives is the excellent ride quality, with even 20-inch wheels failing to spoil the refinement. We must also acknowledge the amount of sound deadening incorporated into the Murano’s cabin – it’s a peaceful place to be, gearbox notwithstanding.

Generous equipment. The Murano comes in four trim levels, and even S models pack automatic emergency braking and LED exterior lights. An additional $3,500 brings SV’s power front seats and parking sensors, while there’s a $5,000 jump to SL’s surround-view camera system and motion-activated tailgate. By the time you’ve reached Platinum, prices have risen to almost $50,000, though you are rewarded with navigation and a Bose audio system. Still, it’s doubtful that any of this justifies such a large premium over the $35,000 base model. If you want to splash even more cash, AWD is a $1,700 option and a panoramic sunroof will cost almost as much.

It's worth noting that every Murano receives generous levels of safety kit, from blind-spot monitoring to active lane control. One of the few benefits of SV trim is its inclusion of adaptive cruise control. The NHTSA has awarded this elderly SUV top marks almost across the board, while only side impact testing gave the IIHS any cause for concern.

Final thoughts. Ever since the second-generation Murano shed its predecessor’s shark-grin design, this has been an easy SUV to like. It’s getting on a bit now, and we worry that a new model will arrive soon, but the Murano remains a worthy contender in the sub-$50,000 market. It’s well-equipped and safe, offering generous interior space and an excellent ride. The looks remain distinctive (externally at least), and there are no major vices for owners to endure.

The Murano’s biggest failing is its age – rivals now match its strengths while improving on its weaknesses. The lethargic performance is largely due to a cumbersome CVT transmission, but there’s no way of avoiding it. Similarly, the last-decade dashboard can’t be spruced up in any way, and lesser trim levels have fallen behind the times in terms of standard specifications. If you’re going to buy nine-year-old technology, we’d recommend you negotiate a good deal as compensation.

Check prices for the 2023 Nissan Murano »