2004 Murano New Car Test Drive
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.
The Nissan Murano comes in SL ($28,200) and SE ($29,150) models. Both offer a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive ($1,600). All models are powered by the 3.5-liter V6 mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission that Nissan calls the Xtronic.
All Murano models come well equipped with features above the class standard; there is no bare-bones model. Both the SE and SL come with four-wheel vented disc brakes with ABS, brake assist and electronic brake distribution, and a big 21.7-gallon gas tank. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, 10-way adjustable power driver's seat, reclining rear seat backs, dual-zone automatic temperature control, a high-power AM/FM/CD audio system, power windows with auto up/down feature in front, and keyless remote entry.
The SE comes with a firmer suspension. High-intensity Xenon headlights, which have a manual leveling feature, are standard on the SE and optional on the SL.
Options come packaged in ascending groups. Both the SL and SE offer a Premium package ($1,500), which adds roof rails, adjustable pedals, a cargo cover and net, and a more powerful stereo with subwoofer and auto volume control. The Sunroof package ($2,500) adds an electric sunroof to the Premium equipment. The SL Leather package ($3,499) adds leather upholstery. The SL Touring package ($4,300) includes heated front seats with memory, heated mirrors, and the HID Xenon headlights. The SE Touring package ($4,000) includes leather and heated front seats with memory.
Vehicle Dynamic Control ($750) is an important option because it can help the driver maintain control and avoid skids. VDC includes a tire-pressure monitoring system. At the top of the list is a GPS navigation system ($2,000). A chrome wheel package is available for SL models ($1,200). The rear-seat DVD entertainment package comes with a 6.4-inch drop-down screen, remote control and two wireless headsets. Satellite radio, Sirius or XM, is a dealer installed option ($400).
Safety features surpass the class standard. Murano comes with a sophisticated ABS, dual-stage frontal air bags with seat belt sensors, front-seat side-impact airbags, full-cabin curtain style head-protection airbags and active front head restraints.
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