2006 Murano New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Murano combines the smooth ride and responsive handling of a car, the cargo space of a wagon, and the high driving position of a sport utility. Named after the region of Italy known for its famous glassware, the Murano reflects an emphasis on refinement and over-the-road confidence over off-road ruggedness.
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 a Honda Pilot or 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.
The Murano delivers hearty performance, boasting the same 3.5-liter V6 engine used in the 350Z sports car, tuned here to produce 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. Murano shares basic underpinnings with the Nissan Altima and Maxima sedans. (Murano is not at all related to the Infiniti FX, a popular misconception.) All-wheel drive is available for the Murano, giving it good grip and stability in wintry weather and hard rain.
For 2006, the Murano's styling has been freshened with a new grille design, a chrome lower grille insert and other subtle changes. It also gets LED taillights that look distinctive and illuminate faster to better alert drivers behind you when you apply the brakes.
The 2006 Nissan Murano is available in three models: S ($27,450), SL ($29,000), and SE AWD ($31,550). The S and SL come standard with front-wheel drive (2WD); all-wheel drive (AWD) adds about $1,600 more. The SE comes with all-wheel drive as standard equipment. All models are powered by the 3.5-liter V6 mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that Nissan calls the Xtronic. All Murano models come with features above the class standard.
Starting with the SE, 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 large 18-inch alloy wheels.
The SL upgrades with a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, upgraded audio with steering wheel controls, a compass, a garage door opener, automatic headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power outlets, fog lights, and an theft alarm. SL and SE models wear new brushed aluminum trim on the rear bumper and chrome accents along the sides.
The SE comes with a firmer sport-tuned suspension, a manual shift mode, high-intensity xenon headlights, styled alloy wheels and dark-silver lower bumpers.
Safety features include 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 activate the airbags in the event of a pending rollover. 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 are 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, roof rails, adjustable pedals, and a cargo cover and net. The SL and SE models can be further upgraded with a Premium package ($1,550), which adds a more powerful stereo with subwoofer and auto volume control to the contents of the Convenience package. The Sunroof package ($2,550) adds an electric sunroof to the Premium package. The SL and SE Leather package ($2,650) adds leather upholstery and a four-way adjustable front passenger seat to the Sunroof package. The Touring package ($4,300 on the SE, $4,600 on the SL) adds to the leather package heated front seats with memory, Intelligent Key, heated mirrors, HID headlights (SL only) and XM or Sirius satellite radio. A DVD navigation system ($1800) is also available. The rear-seat DVD entertainment package ($1,720) comes with a seven-inch drop-down screen, remote control and two wireless headsets. A chrome wheel package is available for SL models ($1,200).