2009 Murano New Car Test Drive
Nissan's recent history is for the most part a success story, and part of that success comes from designing one set of parts into a platform and then stretching that platform's length, width, and strength to do other jobs under other kinds of vehicles. Nissan does this better than most manufacturers, and has done it successfully once again with the 2009 Murano, using basically the same kit of parts that goes under the Altima coupe and sedan for a much larger, heavier and more complex crossover SUV. Murano is named after two different luxury items from two very different parts of the world, Murano art glass from Italy and Murano pearls from Japan, which is a good thing, considering it's sold in more than 130 countries.
The outgoing Murano has been one of the most successful models in Nissan's recent history, with sales rising every year since its introduction in 2003, and a loyalty rate upwards of 30 percent. With sales up more than 70 percent, they've stopped production on the original Murano and given us this brand new second-generation version to consider.
The 2009 Nissan Murano is several steps more radically styled that the original. There are many more curves in the body sheetmetal, a much bigger, shinier grille with a less-busy air intake under it, very large, bold, seven-element headlamps, and a completely new rear-end design, more horizontal than vertical, with dual exhaust ports under the bumper.
Murano models come with 18-inch wheels, with 20-inch wheels standard on the top LE model and optional on the others. Once you get beyond the grille and the headlamps, the only chrome on the curvy new body shell is the door handles. This design strategy lets the body and the paint do all the talking. The new body is almost two counts better in aerodynamic performance than the 2007 version, improved from 0.37 to 0.39 Cd. The more slippery design should mean better highway mileage and less wind noise.
The flexible, stretchable platform underneath the new Murano has been reinforced from front to rear, and fitted with several additional bumper beams and crossmembers, for the heavier duty cycles a crossover sport ute encounters, so it's now roughly 150 percent stiffer than the old truck. This is meaningful not only in terms of crash safety and survival, but also in terms of long-term durability and reliability for those buyers who aren't going to be back in the market for six or eight years. Things like doors and hoods and hinges will stay where they are put because the frame is strong to start with.
The redesigned 2009 Murano retails for some $1500 less than comparably equipped 2007 models.
The 2009 Nissan Murano lineup comes in three trim levels. (The SE version has been dropped.)
Murano S is available with front-wheel drive ($26,330) or all-wheel drive ($27,930).
Murano SL models with front-wheel drive ($27,880) or all-wheel drive ($29,480) add rear privacy glass, front fog lights, steering wheel audio switches, leather wrapped steering wheel, eight-way power driver seat and 60/40 split fold-flat rear seatback with power return.
Murano LE all-wheel-drive ($35,910) adds 20-inch alloy wheels, bi-functional xenon headlights, Bose audio system with 11 speakers, XM Satellite Radio, an interface for iPod, seven-inch color display, intelligent key, Bluetooth, driver position memory (seat, mirrors, and steering wheel), leather-appointed seats, heated front and rear seats, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, interior wood trim, power liftgate, and RearView Monitor.
Option packages include the Convenience package ($550), Premium package ($1000), Leather package ($1600), Moonroof package ($1170), Navigation package ($1850), Technology package ($1900), and DVD package ($1600). Standalone options range from heated seats and leather seating to Bluetooth, a rear-view camera, touch-screen navigation, an intelligent key system, XM Satellite Radio with NavTraffic, a Bose 11-speaker sound system, and a 9.3-gagibyte music storage hard drive.
Safety features include dual-stage frontal air bags, seat-mounted side-impact air bags (for torso protection), roof-mounted curtain air bags (for head protection), active head restraints in the front row (for whiplash protection), antilock brakes (ABS), traction control, and electronic stability control. It also comes with seatbelts; be sure to use them because seatbelts are your first line of defense in a crash.