More tech than ever. The 2021 Nissan Murano is back for its sixth year on the market. As a midsize crossover, the Murano slots between the Rogue and the Pathfinder in the Nissan ecosystem. We expect a redesign in the next year or two, but this year’s Murano does its best to keep up with the market by adding a slew of standard technology.

The biggest addition is the brand’s Safety Shield 360 bundle, which was previously optional. Included are advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise controls, and blind-spot monitors. The latter are a particularly welcome addition, as the Murano’s chunky rear pillars can make visibility a challenge.

To appeal to modern buyers, the Murano emphasizes infotainment. Every model gets an eight-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and both rows get USB ports. For the price, that’s a strong kit for a base model.

Comfortable cabin. The good news continues in the seating, which is supportive and spacious. Second-row passengers get almost 39 inches of legroom, which is average for the class but more than enough for most adults. An optional panoramic sunroof cuts into headroom, and three adults may find the shoulder room a squeeze in the back.

Sound deadening makes the cabin serene, and materials quality is generally good. The dash styling isn’t very imaginative, but it puts all the necessary controls in the right places. No one will mistake the Murano for a Mercedes, but it doesn’t feel cheap inside, either.

While room for passengers is good, cargo capacity is less impressive. The Murano starts with 32.1 cubic feet of storage, which opens up to 67 with the seats folded. Both numbers are low for the class, and a Honda Passport exceeds the Murano’s max capacity by about 10 cu ft.


Nissan Murano

Middling performance. The Murano soldiers on with a single powertrain option, a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6. It’s peppy enough around town, but the Murano’s two-ton weight can make highway passes a challenge. Towing capacity is a measly 1,500 pounds.

The only transmission option is a CVT, which isn’t a particularly good example of the breed. It feels disconnected at times, and tends to drone more than a typical automatic. The CVT isn’t enough to rescue the Murano’s fuel economy, either — the Murano maxes out at 23 mpg combined. The Hyundai Santa Fe starts at 25 mpg combined, and the hybrid Toyota Venza an impressive 39.

The Murano makes amends with its suspension, which is tuned for comfort and composure. There are no fancy adaptive dampers here, but the softly sprung chassis swallows up bumps with ease, even with the larger wheel options.

Widely customizable. The Murano lineup covers a wide price range of around $15,000 across four trims. On the outside, the only difference is the wheels — we like the Murano shape, and it looks good regardless of rim size.

On the inside, upper trims swap in leather upholstery and more sophisticated tech. We’re not convinced that they’re worth it. As the price approaches $40,000, the Murano faces stiff competition like the Volvo XC60. Even among mainstream brands, the Murano is up against newer rivals like the cheaper Santa Fe and the practical Passport.

The best argument in the Murano’s favor is its standard feature set, especially now that the safety tech is included. For best value, we’d recommend sticking to the base trim and adding all-wheel drive if necessary.

Final thoughts. The 2021 Murano remains a decent contender among midsize crossovers, and we’re glad to see the latest batch of standard features. But the Murano’s flaws — a lackluster powertrain and poor cargo capacity — keep it from standing out. When the competition is fierce, being average isn’t good enough.

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