The Nissan Murano is a mid-size crossover SUV first sold by Nissan in December 2002 as a 2003 model. Nissan introduced the Murano as its first crossover SUV for the United States and Canada. Initially designed at Nissan America in La Jolla, California, the first generation Murano was based on the Nissan FF-L platform first used by the third generation Altima. The single European version of the Murano began sales in 2004. A convertible variant, marketed as the CrossCabriolet, premiered at the 2010 Los Angeles International Auto Show for model year 2011.
The Murano was Nissan's only crossover SUV in the U.S. until September 2007 when the new 2008 Nissan Rogue went on sale. In Canada the X-Trail had been on sale as Nissan's second car-based SUV since 2004 as a 2005 model; it was replaced by the new 2008 Nissan Rogue in late 2007. The Murano is sized between the Xterra and the Pathfinder, but is priced slightly higher than the Nissan Pathfinder.
The Murano was nominated for the North American Truck of the Year award for 2003. It was also named the best premium mid-size SUV by AutoPacific.
First generation (2002–2007)
The first generation Nissan Murano was unveiled in production form for the 2003 model year at the 2002 New York International Auto Show. It was powered by a 3.5 liter (VQ35DE) V6 producing 245 hp (183 kW) and 334 N·m (246 lbf·ft), also used in several other Nissan models like the Altima, Maxima, and Nissan 350Z, but specifically tuned for use in the Murano. Available with standard front-wheel-drive (FWD) and optional all-wheel-drive (AWD), the Nissan Murano is one of the largest vehicles utilising a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Fuel economy was rated at 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway (same mpg FWD and AWD on the new EPA specifications). Production started in mid-May 2002 and the first vehicles shipped in early June for the US, and mid-July for Canadian markets.
A full set of airbags, steel reinforced cabin, and head restraints were safety features designed to protect the interior while VDC, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist were mechanical safety features. VDC incorporates a form of traction control.
For the 2006 model year in North America, the Murano received some updates in the form of LED tailamps and turn signals, standard color information screen, available back-up camera (standard in Canada for all models), GPS and a restyled front end with some minor trim updates.
September 2004, the Murano was introduced in Japan, replacing the Nissan Bassara and exclusive to Nissan Red Stage locations, with a further introduction at Nissan Blue Stage locations in October, replacing the Nissan Pathfinder. Due to the Murano exceeding engine displacement and exterior dimensions as declared in Japanese Government regulations, it was regarded as a luxury vehicle and was equipped with many optional features found in North America as standard equipment on Japanese models, to include Nissan's GPS and internet-based navigation system called CarWings. Japanese models were available with two engine choices, the 3.5L V6 engine, or the 2.5L QR four cylinder engine.
Second generation (2009–2014)
Nissan skipped the 2008 model year with the introduction of the next generation Murano – as a 2009 model. The 2009 Murano made its public debut at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show in November and sales began in early January 2008.
The revised exterior styling bears an increased family resemblance to the Nissan Rogue, while still maintaining distinctly Murano cues with its aggressive front fascia and rear quarter windows. The interior has also been completely redesigned, with the use of a more traditional instrument cluster and notably higher-quality materials.
The 2009 Murano is offered in three trim levels: the base S, the mid-grade SL, and the top of the line LE. The performance-oriented SE model is no longer available. The S and SL are offered with standard FWD, with optional iAWD (Intelligent All Wheel Drive) available. The LE trim is iAWD only.
New features, some of them optional or available only on the LE grade, include rain-sensing wipers, double-stitched leather seats, power rear lift gate, power fold-up rear seats, iPod integration, and a hard-drive based, touchscreen navigation system. The S and SL feature aluminum interior accents, while the LE sports wood-tone trim. Like the first-generation model, there is no third-row seat.
The Murano is now based on the Nissan D platform shared with the fourth generation Nissan Altima and the new 2009 Nissan Maxima. Nissan has given the 2009 Murano a revised version of the award-winning 3.5L VQ engine rated at 265 horsepower (198 kW), an increase of 20 over the previous model. Torque is rated at 336 N·m (248 lbf·ft). The engine is mated to a revised Continuously Variable Transmission with Adaptive Shift Control. EPA fuel economy is rated at 18 city / 23 highway.
Standard safety features on all trims include 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake-assist, and EBD; electronic stability control; and front, side-, and side-curtain airbags. The NHTSA awarded the second generation Murano 4 stars on the frontal crash test and 5 stars for side impacts, worse than the first generation.
On September 29, 2008, Nissan released the next generation Murano in Japan, where it is primarily targeted mainly at men in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and is priced between 3,150,000 yen and 4,042,500 yen, about 200,000 to 300,000 yen more expensive than the first generation model. Nissan has announced plans to sell the vehicle in 170 countries. The four-cylinder 2.5L QR engine continues to be offered as an option in Japan.
For the 2011 model year, the Murano was refreshed to include new front and rear fascias, new headlights and LED taillights, and new 18-inch wheels on the outside. New interior changes include a new white meter color (as opposed to red/orange), new center stack plastic colours that now match the leather trim, and added equipment to various trim levels. The refresh also added a new exterior color, "Graphite Blue".
A convertible version called CrossCabriolet was added for the 2011 model year, premiering at the 2010 Los Angeles International Auto Show. However, due to slow sales and lack of promotion, Nissan announced on April 15, 2014, that it will end production on the CrossCabriolet and there are no plans to replace it with another vehicle.
In September 2011, Nissan launched the second-generation Murano in Indonesia. Only one version was available, and sold for 750 million rupiahs (about US$78,900).
On 5 April 2011, Murano is withdrawn from the UK market due to disappointing sales.
Third generation (2015)
On April 14, 2014, Nissan unveiled a third generation Murano at the New York Auto Show, with production of the vehicle to be built in Canton, Mississippi and arriving in dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2014. Inspired by the Resonance Concept that was on display at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, the new Murano includes a toned-down "V-Motion" nose and the trademark boomerang-shaped light fixtures, along with an updated infotainment system and newer security features. The VQ-Series 3.5-liter V6 engine will continue to be offered in the third generation version for the 2015 model year.
Awards and recognition