2005 Murano New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Murano is an excellent choice for someone who wants the smooth ride and responsive handling of a car, the cargo space of a wagon, and the high driving position of an SUV.
The Murano is a good example of a crossover vehicle: It's designed to haul cargo like a sport-utility, but ride and drive like a car. However, this crossover handles better than the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, and it drives more like a sports sedan.
Murano integrates aerodynamics and high fashion, with a sleek front end, smooth lines from front to back, and a greenhouse that slopes rearward, ending in a large but graceful C-pillar. Inside, Nissan resisted the temptation to cram in three rows of seats like the Highlander and Pilot do. Instead, like a car, the Murano has just two rows of seats, accommodating four (or at most five) passengers in comfort. It's not a substitute for a minivan, nor does it look like one.
The futuristic look is backed by sporty performance. The Murano is powered by Nissan's beefy 3.5-liter V6, the same engine found in the 350Z sports car, putting out 245 horsepower. It comes with a continuously variable transmission, a high-tech automatic that's smooth and responsive while offering superior gas mileage within its class. Murano's road-tuned suspension offers smooth and sporty handling. The Murano shares much of its underpinnings with the Nissan Altima and Maxima sedans (but is not related to the Infiniti FX).
All-wheel drive is available for better grip and stability in foul weather. A new entry-level Murano S lowers the base price.
The 2005 Nissan Murano is available in three models: S ($26,850), SL ($28,350) and SE ($29,300) models. All three are offered in either 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 with features above the class standard. Standard equipment on all three versions includes dual-zone automatic temperature control, a high-power AM/FM/CD audio system, power windows with auto up/down feature in front, keyless remote entry, reclining rear seats, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The Murano SE comes with a firmer sport-tuned suspension, a manual shift mode, styled alloy wheels and dark-silver lower bumpers. High-intensity xenon headlights, which have a manual leveling feature, are standard on the SE and optional on the SL.
Safety features surpass the class standard. Among them: 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. Rollover sensors for the airbag system have been added for 2005. Murano comes standard with four-wheel vented disc brakes with ABS, Brake Assist and electronic brake-force distribution. Option safety equipment: Vehicle Dynamic Control, which helps the driver correct skids, a Traction Control System, and a tire-pressure monitoring, all part of the Dynamic Control Package ($750), which can only be added to models with the Premium package.
Options come packaged in ascending groups. The S can be purchased with a Convenience package ($800) including a 10-way adjustable driver's seat (standard on the SL and SE models), roof rails, adjustable pedals, and a cargo cover and net. The SL and SE models can be further upgraded with a Premium package ($1,500), which adds a more powerful stereo with subwoofer and auto volume control to the contents of the Convenience package. The Sunroof package ($2,500) adds an electric sunroof to the Premium equipment. The SL and SE Leather package ($3,500) adds leather upholstery and a four-way adjustable front passenger seat. The Touring package ($4,300 on the SE, $4,550 on the SL) adds to the leather package heated front seats with memory, Intelligent Key, heated mirrors, pre-wiring for the Nissan Mobile Entertainment System, and on the SL dark silver lower bumpers.
At the top of the options list is the Technology Package, which includes a DVD navigation system and rear view video monitor ($2,350). The rear-seat DVD entertainment package ($1,720) 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). A chrome wheel package is available for SL models ($1,200).