Drive Away 2Day

2014 Nissan Murano : Current Models

A late-life facelift brings more tech and improved safety to the aging Murano, while at the same time adding extra value. However, at $60,240 (plus on-road costs), we’re not sure that’s enough to bolster appeal, especially with the newer, larger X-TRAIL and Pathfinder flanking it so closely in the current Nissan SUV range. Petrol-only, and available in two trim levels, the Murano remains a competent vehicle, but one that now more than ever is feeling its age.

There's nothing wrong with the Murano, per se. But having being on sale for the past seven years, the current Z51-series' once-challenging styling now feels like it has had its time in the sun.

Add to that Nissan's all-new X-TRAIL and Pathfinder range – which beset the Murano at each side of the brand's SUV line-up – and this five-seat-only offering feels, well, a little redundant. A good thing there’s an all-new Murano due here in mid-2015...

So, why are we testing the ‘old’ Murano?

Well, believe it or not this is an updated variant -- a late-life facelift, if you will, that aims to inject a little appeal into the ageing model.

New on the Ti variant only are refaced 20-inch alloy wheels, navigation technology and added safety systems which Nissan says add $8000 worth of value to the model.

The 7.0-inch touch-screen sat-nav system now scores SUNA live traffic monitoring while blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and moving object detection systems improve the Murano’s safety cred.

All work well, seamlessly assisting the driver in day-to-day traffic, which makes it a shame then that the top-spec Ti variant misses out on simple items like acoustic parking sensors and Bluetooth audio streaming...

Also showing signs of the Murano’s design age are a roof-mounted rear centre seatbelt, foot-operated park brake and dated toggle switches for some controls (like the seat heaters, four-wheel drive system, rear seat and tailgate controls). The switchgear is at times oddly placed, too, with some controls on the lower dash fascia, and others tucked forward on the centre console, beneath the stack.

Conversely, the relationship between the driver and the primary controls is quite good. The seats are comfortable, in spite of their cheap-feeling leather, and relate well to the electrically-adjusted steering column.

Accommodation in both the first and second rows is more generous than the exterior design might have you believe, though the dual-pane glass panoramic sunroof does cut a couple of centimetres from headroom fore and aft.

It’s that the swooping design that also makes rearward visibility a bit of an issue. The upswept and small rear windows make reversing from a 45-degree park and lane changing a nerve-wracking experience, the now-standard blind-spot monitoring and reversing camera proving their worth here.

The Murano’s shape also impinges on boot space, which is shallower than many in this category. At 402 litres the cargo area is smaller than that of the medium-sized Mazda CX-5 (with 403), but can be expanded via 60/40-split folding seats.

Up the other end, Nissan’s award-winning all-aluminium VQ35 (3.5-litre V6) petrol engine provides plenty of go. There’s 191kW and 336Nm at your disposal, driving all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission.

Nissan’s Xtronic CVT is quieter and better modulated than many of its kind, which makes for near-seamless acceleration, and very prompt reaction to requests for ‘kick down’ at highway speeds. There is, however, no manual control offered, which may disappoint owners looking to tow (up to 1500kg, braked).

ADR fuel economy testing shows the Murano as using 10.9L/100km on the combined cycle, and in our hands that figure was pessimistic. Granted my week with the Murano saw it spend up to 50 per cent of its time on the freeway, but the 8.9L/100km average managed felt pretty good in the scheme of things. Keep in mind, the Murano requires 95 RON (or higher) premium unleaded petrol.

Also good are the Murano’s dynamics. For a large SUV is quite wieldy. Its handling is more akin to a large sedan than a large SUV, while ride component is comfortable without being too soft. Small surface discrepancies are ironed out without a jitter, the low-profile tyres only really troubled by dirt-road corrugations or larger potholes.

The steering is what I’d describe as pleasant, in that it’s well-assisted but with enough feel to know what’s going on. The turning circle is pretty good for a car of its size (11.0 metres), while the wheel’s eagerness to return to centre helps manoeuvrability at both car parking and suburban speeds.

I also found the brake pedal to be exceptionally well modulated, offering precise control over Murano’s strong four-wheel discs.

But still, there are a few niggles that owners will find annoying. The powered tailgate doesn’t have a lock button, meaning you have to use the key fob or touch the driver’s door after closing the boot in order to lock the car – not very handy when your arms are full of shopping.

Ditto the rear seats, which fold down manually but can be raised at the push of a button from the dash. Surely this is one function Nissan’s engineers have the wrong way around...

Then there’s the issue of the Murano’s safety. The Murano does not have a Euro NCAP or ANCAP safety rating, and in American NHTSA testing managed only four stars (the original model scored a five-star NHTSA score). In addition to the electronic driver aids mentioned earlier the Murano has the usual list of three-letter safety-system acronyms, plus front, side and curtain airbags, and three-point seatbelts for all five seating positions.

The five-seat Nissan Murano has sold only 271 examples year-to-date (2014), ranking it dead last in the large SUV category, which is dominated by the likes of the Toyota Prado, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Holden Captiva 7. Updated or not, we remain unconvinced that the latest Murano has what it takes to improve on that number.

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Sources : 2014 Nissan Murano Photo | 2014 Nissan Murano Article

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