click above for more images from our first drive of the 2009 Nissan Murano Nissan's original Murano was a successful and difficult act to follow. The elder statesman of crossover utility vehicles saw its sales increase every year since it was introduced in 2003, but with the segment going from crowded to standing room only, Nissan realized changes were needed to compete. "Murano-ness" – that's what Jarrad Haslam, Nissan's product planner for crossovers, said the company insisted be preserved in the new version. Nissan invited us to Atlanta to sample this almost-totally-new Murano for 2009. You'll recognize the distinctive rounded nose, sharply-raked windshield, the side glass kicked up over the rear fender, a smallish rear hatch window topped by a sliver of a spoiler, and a lower rear bumper accentuated by dual exhaust outlets. But put the 2007 and 2009 (the Murano sat out the 2008 model year) side by side, and the differences become evident. Continue reading about our first drive of the 2009 Nissan Murano after the jump. %Gallery-15035% %Gallery-9996% Live Photos Copyright ©2008 Chris Tutor / Weblogs, Inc. click any image to enlarge For 2009, the width-spanning chrome grille gets much more aggressive with pronounced vertical slats and headlights that are more FX45 than 350Z. The front fenders rise above the hood and blend smoothly into the A-pillars, while Murano's standard 19-inch and optional 20-inch chrome wheels are also wrapped by more muscular rear fenders that give the vehicle a bit more visual strength. Out back, designers took the hatch glass angle even more extreme, and the old vertical taillamps are replaced with horizontal ones that mimic the headlights. The dual exhaust set up remains, as does that aforementioned sliver of a spoiler above the glass. Inside, fans of the old Murano will find some welcome improvements. Upgraded materials cover every surface, and are especially appreciated on the instrument panel and center console. Softer plastics are found everywhere one might reasonably be expected to put a hand, and good-looking, double-stitched leather is also available. The new orange-lighted instrument cluster is a welcome improvement, as is the more ergonomic and eye-pleasing center stack. If you like the people in your Murano's backseat, opt for the heated rear seats and the LCD screen with remote-controlled DVD player and wireless headphones. Those back seats (heated or not) do a very nice impression of a recliner, as well. Behind the second row of seats is just less than 32 cubic feet of cargo space, which is 1 cubic foot less than the 2007 model. But fold the back seat flat and the 2009's cargo space doubles to 64 cu. feet. That sounds great until you realize that the 2007 model had a relatively cavernous 82 cubic feet with the back seat folded down. So where did all those cubes go? Haslam tells us the extra cargo space was sacrificed on the altar of attractive exterior design. That dramatically-sloping rear hatch severely cut into the vertical space of the rear and took …
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|MPG||18 City / 23 Hwy|
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|Power||265 @ 6000 rpm|
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