The Nissan Murano is a front engine, five door mid-size crossover manufactured and marketed by Nissan since May 2002 as a model for 2003, and now in its third generation — with a convertible variant, the CrossCabriolet, available for the model years of 2011 to 2014.
As Nissan's first crossover SUV for the United States and Canada, the Murano was designed at Nissan America in La Jolla, California, and was based on the Nissan FF-L platform shared with the third generation Altima. The single European version of the Murano began sales in 2004.
The Murano was Nissan's only crossover SUV in the United States until September 2007, when the 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 model for 2005; it was replaced by the new 2008 Nissan Rogue in the end of 2007. The Murano is sized between the Pathfinder and the now defunct Xterra (Now replaced by the Rogue as a compact SUV).
First generation (2002–2007)
The first generation Nissan Murano was unveiled in production form for the model year of 2003, 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 middle of May 2002, and the first vehicles shipped in early June for the United States, and mid July for Canadian markets. An independent suspension on all wheels was used for class leading ride and handling.
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 model year of 2006 in North America, the Murano received some updates in the form of LED tail lamps 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 Bassara MPV and exclusive to Nissan Red Stage locations, with a further introduction at Nissan Blue Stage locations in October, replacing the Terrano.
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 (2008–2014)
Nissan skipped the model year of 2008 with the introduction of the second generation Murano – as a model for 2009. The 2009 Murano made its debut at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show in November, and sales began in January 2008. The exterior and interior were redesigned.
The second generation Murano was initially offered in three trim levels: the base S, the mid grade SL, and the top level LE. The performance oriented SE model was discontinued. The S and SL are offered with standard FWD, with optional iAWD (Intelligent All Wheel Drive) available. The LE trim is iAWD only.
The second generation Murano included new features, some of which were optional or available only on the LE grade, including 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 second generation is based on the Nissan D platform, shared with the fourth generation Nissan Altima, and the new 2009 Nissan Maxima. The second generation was equipped a revised version of the 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 four 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 four stars on the frontal crash test, and five stars for side impacts, worse than the first generation.
On September 29, 2008, Nissan released the second generation Murano in Japan, targeted mainly at men in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and 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 announced plans to sell the vehicle in 170 countries. The four-cylinder 2.5L QR engine continued to be offered as an option in Japan.
For the model year of 2011, the Murano was refreshed to include refreshed front and rear fascias, new headlights and LED taillights, and new 18 inch wheels on the outside. New interior changes included a new white meter color (as opposed to red/orange), new center stack plastic colours matching the leather trim, and added equipment to various trim levels. The refresh also added a new exterior colour, "Graphite Blue" and for the 2013 model year the LE trim will be renamed to Platinum.
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). In April 2011, the Murano was officially withdrawn from the United Kingdom, due to disappointing sales.
Nissan began formally marketing the CrossCabriolet with the model year of 2011 — without further refreshes or any other trim levels during its production run. The crossover was only offered in the LE trim and had the same engine as a standard Murano.
The fully automatic, hydraulically operated cloth top has an automatic power latch/unlatch system, rear glass skylight, dual pop-up roll bars, 7.6 cf cargo capacity with the top down and 12.3 cf with the top up — and a Cd of 0.39. Its front doors are 7.9 inches longer than four door Murano front doors, with structural reinforcement from the A-pillar rearward.
In April 2014, Nissan announced the Murano CrossCabriolet would be discontinued.
Third generation (2014–present)
The third generation Murano was not marketed in Japan, due to costs associated with exceeding Japanese Government dimension regulations and annual road tax obligations. The 3.5 litre V6 engine produces up to 260 horsepower.
Only for the model year of 2016, Nissan introduced a Hybrid version of the Nissan Murano. The Murano Hybrid is available in two trim levels, SL and Platinum. The Murano Hybrid features an electric motor, a 2.5 litre four cylinder engine, Intelligent Dual Clutch System, and Lithium-Ion Battery that is located under the center console. Hybrid components won't reduce passenger and cargo space.
The hybrid version uses the so-called VSP (Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians) system that uses sound to help alert pedestrians of the presence of the vehicle, when it is being driven at a low speed in the electric drive mode.
Awards and recognition