Nissan Murano (2005-2008) review
We like the Murano's image, practicality and car-like handling.
Driving: The Murano impresses from the moment you start the engine. Its variable valve timing unit delivers optimum torque when required, and has been tuned to work with the standard CVT gearbox. The results are impressive as the 3.5-litre V6 motor (similar to that in the 350Z sports car) is responsive and eager - something that became clear in our performance tests: 0-60mph in 8.9 seconds impressed. The CVT gearbox also has a manual override with six set ratios - ideal for tackling back roads as it lets you hold a lower gear and keep the revs high. But for everyday conditions, standard mode is refined enough and delivers power smoothly. In terms of handling, the Nissan scores well too. It turns in sharply, and although body roll is inevitable when pushed hard, the Murano keeps its composure. Overall, the car inspires confidence on twisting roads and while the ride can be a little firm, it's smooth enough for long distance cruising. However, the low-profile tyres do take the edge off refinement, and the Nissan is not a quiet car.
Marketplace: With models such as the Pathfinder, X-Trail and Patrol, Nissan has a strong off-road line-up. The Murano is more of a crossover vehicle, bridging the gap between hardcore 4x4 and conventional family model. The styling is certainly a world away from Nissan's other offerings, echoing sporty cars such as the 350Z. It has a long wheelbase with minimum overhangs, giving an athletic appearance. Using the 350Z's V6 engine means it has strong performance credentials to match this sporty look. Just the one model is offered, but it comes with sat nav, a Bose stereo, leather, xenon headlights and a reverse parking camera - though only five seats are offered. Rivals include the Subaru Tribeca, BMW X3, Land Rover Freelander and Volkswagen Touareg.
Owning: The Nissan is relatively short, but has a long wheelbase. This means rear seat passengers are well catered for, with ample headroom and good comfort. The chairs may not slide, but with generous leg space as standard, that's not an issue. It has ample boot space too - although the opening is a little narrow. Things are equally good for the driver. The steering doesn't adjust for reach, but the seating position is good and there's lots of room for tall drivers. A metal finish on the dash gives an upmarket feel, while the materials are of high quality. There is also plenty of storage space, including a useful double-deck lockable centre console. And the list price isn't especially cheap, but you do get that bounty of standard equipment. It's just a shame there isn't a diesel option, though our factory-fresh test car did well to average 21.4mpg overall, while 9,000-mile service intervals are a bit short but countered by good-value pricing. Retained values are excellent as well - the Nissan holds on to over 50% of its list price after three years.