The all-new 2015 Nissan Murano takes the five-seat crossover market to a luxurious and stylish new peak. Among mainstream brands, the Murano's $30k-$40k price range is typically occupied by either loaded compact crossovers like the CR-V and RAV4, or even tinier premium vehicles like the new Mercedes-Benz GLA and fresh 2016 BMW X1.
Moving up a price class generally adds seven seats among mainstream brands (see Ford Explorer or Toyota Highlander.) The Pathfinder owns this family space quite nicely for Nissan, leaving the Murano with a meaty slice of buyer wants all to itself. What about versus two-row SUVs like the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport? Not exactly a match -- the Murano proudly hails its luxury SUV status without an ounce of sporting pretension.
In spirit and execution, then, the Murano is a direct hit on an unlikely rival: the Lexus RX.
Everything about the cutting-edge design, tech and size of the Murano makes it a serious threat for the Lexus RX, as well as the upcoming Lincoln MKX and Cadillac XT5 (SRX replacement).
This market sweet-spot for the Murano delivers luxury and premium style in full to owners, as we found out over an extended, multi-week visit with the mid-spec Murano SL front-drive. But is its lack of off-road chops or sporty springs a demerit? Let's find out in the below review!
Headings are the standard Exterior, Interior, Performance, Pricing and Summary. Also included? Two 4K HD drive review videos and 150 photos!
4K HD Drive Video
If the Murano's mission for 2015 is to be the coolest, most eye-catching (and comfy!) SUV on the roads -- than its design obviously must make a great first impression.
True enough for the 2015 Murano, which is virtually unrecognizable versus the long-running shape drivers have known since 2003. A truly clean-sheet revamp, the 2015 Murano is immensely interesting to behold in the flesh. An aggressive nose sets the tone with its boomerang LEDs and V-motion grille glowing bright and shiny. The eye also finds nice bull-horns down in the lower bumper, pointing inward and upward toward the Nissan badge. Combined with the outward angles of the lights and grille, the horns below create a sophisticated inflection point up front. It is satisfying and very modern -- in a way that even makes the new Lexus RX feel a bit too familiar.
The real newness of the Murano design is only visible in profile, however. This is a wild look for an SUV -- with deeply sculpted beltline creases flowing over the front wheels, down through the doors, then back up over the rear wheel-wells and into a swish and chopped roofline out back. It is quite sleek to the eye, and to wind as well. Nissan is rightly very proud of the Murano's class-best drag coefficient. A swish shape like this helps highway fuel economy as well as cruising refinement via less wind roar.
The Murano SL test trim wears smaller wheels than the loaded Platinum model, but otherwise is just as posh from all exterior angles. All Murano's share some downmarket details, however, that betray cost consciousness when viewed up close. The first is a deep front air dam in black plastic that lives below the bumper up front. A typical item these days for pickup trucks and SUVs, the Murano's lower bumper shroud can feel cheap from the pure nose view. It can also exacerbate the front-drive machine's nose overhang a bit more than we'd like.
Top Murano's with the active safety tech pack also have a glaring blemish up front: the black box of radar, laser and sonar sensors lives fairly obviously in the lower nose. Would definitely look better if hidden behind a mesh or plastic grille element somehow.
Thirdly, we're disappointed to find very humdrum halogen bulbs for the lowbeams, highbeams and foglamps. The yellowish hue of these lamps is jarring next to the pure white of the LED DRL shape. Platinum Murano's feature HID low-beams, which helps solve this issue -- if only part of the time.
Around back, that pinched tail and floating roofline are joined together by a very premium and modern pair of brake lights. A clear housing embeds twin LED pipes of red light as the taillamp. A simple but classy block of red LEDs in the bottom of the lamp lights up under braking.
Overall, we give this design a sold B-plus. Thrilled that the LEDs up front do not need a highbeam supplement as the actual DRL (like Hyundai Santa Fe). This means the Murano cruises with just white lights blazing until dusk.
It is especially eye-catching on the road -- where the new LEDs and super-wide but quite low roof give the Murano a premium feel akin to the BMW X6. It lets people know you do not want or need the blocky back end of typical family SUVs.
The cabin of the Murano is a pretty fabulous place to reel in the horizon. This is a truck that absolutely loves to cruise. Around town, refinement is excellent and the ride quality seriously cushy. No Euro SUV rides this well. Period.
New tech and all-new materials greatly enhance the familiar layout of the switchgear and tech features, while entry and exit are absolutely effortless. Just pop in, and you're comfortable.
The Murano feels extra plush inside with the new leathers and trim details -- which focus on modernity versus classic wood(grain). Additionally, earth-tone leathers and dark headliner choices set the mood very well indeed.
Width and legroom are Murano core talents -- and really set the Nissan apart as an X5-sized vehicle for X1 prices. A wide armrest with plush-top surfaces in leather is a nice touchpoint, while the back seat has a natural reclined angle that is cool. No need for a third row means legroom is outstanding in back, as is elbow room all around. An extra recline lever lets those in back really lounge and stretch out.
Similar hugeness for the trunk -- 39-cubic-feet with all seats up. So much space that you may barely use the convenient trunk-mounted handles to flip the second row flat. But when you do, max capacity jumps to 70-cubic-feet.
We liked the driving position as well: it puts you right in the zone to enjoy the Murano's uncanny rolling refinement.
0-75-mph Sprint Video
As mentioned, the Murano is a cruiser. So what!?
Most SUV owners would kill for a ride this posh. All without the complexity of air springs or active shocks. The Murano is just pillowy from day one.
A smooth and light steering rack has plenty of grip around corners, where the body stays admirably level despite limo-like shock settings.
Smoothness is the trait you most recall about the powertrain as well. The standard 3.5-liter V6 comes in front or AWD configurations, all using the Xtronic CVT automatic in perhaps its 4th round of improvements.
The above video shows a launch demo of the Murano at full throttle during the first minutes of our drive. We expected some of Nissan's promised upshifts with the new Xtronic hardware, but didn't capture them.
More time in the Murano proves four things about the new Xtronic:
-- The programmed upshifts typically occur not on full-throttle sprints from a stop, but in actual driving. Scenario: you round a corner in 3rd gear, hit the gas to the floor. Transmission pops to its 2nd-gear equivalent effortlessly and spins up to redline. When it hits that peak engine revs, it pops off a series of upshifts to tap the meaty 5000 - 6000-rpm power band.
-- Most of the downsides of a CVT auto have been flipped by Nissan into advantages. Where most automatics need a big heavy foot to downshift, then heave themselves forward loudly... the Murano just glides. The lack of forced downshifts and upshifts mean all that hulla-baloo trying to downshift most SUVs is banished.
-- Only a light throttle application scoots the Murano ahead with more verve. As you reach your cruising speed, the Xtronic chills with imperceptible upshifts to overdrive.
-- Around town and on the highway, the Murano feels like it has no rolling resistance. Come off the throttle, and it feels like the car will coast for days and days. Another Xtronic advantage.
We really did come to like this automatic and drivetrain far, far better than ever expected. CVT plus V6 torque is a happy combination in the Nissan. 240 pound-feet and 260-horsepower feel good and energetic enough for a 60-mph sprint of ~7.8-seconds.
The only place where the Murano's chill drive mood feels odd is actually before it gets rolling. There is a lack of precision to how the Murano goes from Park to Drive. It feels sloppier than the best cars out there. A detail thing -- but the slow-motion clonk of the Xtronic engaging Drive is perhaps the one place the CVT still needs work.
Other curious details? The China-market Murano Hybrid is not offered stateside. Also odd: a lack of any kind of sport mode for the transmission programming. No, it's not strictly needed and not a match for the handling..... but still unusual omission.
A full pricing and Murano colors visualizer is over at the below link!
The Murano SL stickers from $37,835 including delivery. As tested, we come in at $40,095 including the destination charge.
2015 Nissan Murano U.S. pricing
Murano S FWD
Murano SV FWD
Murano SL FWD
Murano Platinum FWD
Murano S AWD
Murano SV AWD
Murano SL AWD
Murano Platinum AWD
The 2015 Murano is a curious hit in our book. Its style is instantly new and instantly cool -- with unique details and proportions that make it look worth $50k-plus on the road.
A giant cabin and super wide seating all around put compact crossovers to shame, while the new-age materials and trims offer visual intrigue and long-term appeal.
The powertrain delivers sedan-like levels of efficiency plus hybrid-style silence at low speeds. Yet on the highway or at stoplights, the Murano will scrrech away from any four-cylinder crossover with its V6 torque.
All this for pricing that undercuts the Lexus RX even in top Murano Platinum trim?
Five-seat SUV buyers seeking ultra-modern style plus serene road manners will go gaga for the Murano. Give it a drive... and enjoy the world's smoothest SUV drive experience for yourself!
2015 Nissan Murano SL
2015 Nissan Murano Review