CarCorner Review: 2012 Nissan Murano SL FWD

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By Cathy Droz and Bill Zervakos –

First introduced as a 2003 model, Nissan’s midsize crossover received its first redesign as an early 2009 model after a hiatus in 2008. The Murano comes in either front-wheel, or all-wheel drive, and is available in S, SV, SL or LE trim levels with my tester coming being the SL. The Murano features Nissan’s 3.5-liter six-cylinder, 260 horsepower VQ engine mated to an Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) with adaptive shift control. Standard features for the Murano include 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, LED rear tail lights and dual zone automatic air conditioning. Some of the standard safety equipment includes vehicle traction and stability control, brake assist, six airbags and front seat active head restraints.

The S trim level comes with cruise control, automatic climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, an audio system with six speakers and six-CD changer. The SV adds automatic headlights, a rearview camera, panoramic sunroof, power front seats, a 7-inch color display screen, interface for the iPod, satellite radio and steering wrapped in leather with audio controls. The SL adds automatic wipers, leather upholstery, front seats and steering wheel that are heated and an audio system with nine Bose speakers and storage for digital music.

The interior of the Nissan Murano SUV is well appointed with good quality materials and good fit and finish. There is plenty of head and leg room for all passengers in both rows of seats, and a plus for rear passengers: the second row seats can recline. When the rear seats are up, the cargo capacity is 31.6 cubic feet, while folding down the rear seats increases the cargo capacity to 64 cubic feet. Most of the technology in the Murano is pretty user-friendly but one annoyance with Nissan is the way the doors stay locked until the ignition is turned off. I talked with a Nissan dealership and was told that it could only be changed at the dealership. I’m not sure what that’s all about but it’s one of those inconveniences that really irks me.

2012 Nissan Murano SL FWDDriving the Nissan Murano is a pleasant, if not exhilarating experience, made so by pretty responsive steering and a well tuned suspension. The ride is comfortable and the Murano absorbs bumps and potholes in relative comfort. The 260 horsepower V6 engine provides more than enough power for this SUV and while the Continuously Variable Transmission is effective, CVT’s are sometimes slow to react to throttle pressure and provide a constant moan under moderate and heavy acceleration, which is something I find very hard to get used to. 

The entry level Murano bases at just under $30,000 with the base price of the SL coming in at $36,400. With the Navigation Package at $1,850.00 and floor mats and the carpeted cargo area costing $195 and $810 in destination charges, the total price came to $39,255.

All in all, I like the Murano and in fact, one of my sons owns one. It proves to be a great family vehicle that isn’t staid or boring. So if you can get past the whiney CVT, the Murano offers a fair amount of styling and performance bang for your buck. If you haven’t checked one out lately, maybe you should.

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