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Test Driving The High End Of The Low End Nissan Murano

October 15th, 2010

The somewhat robotic looking Nissan Ti sits with each if it’s corners perched out over it’s wheels in a chunky, but smoothly defined stance in the Nissan showroom.

The beautiful pearlescent exterior and stunning tan interior lured me in, a very inviting 4WD with a very warm presence.

Opening the door, you are hit with the beautiful interior which has a red carpet rolling out taking you into a seductive embrace.

The Murano has everything you’d expect from a $150,000 luxury European 4WD, yet it’s less than half the price.

Exterior

Apart from looking great and having a defined presence on the road, it’s actually a tough and robust vehicle with some serious off-road capabilities. A real 4WD with buttons inside to alter your off-road experience. Because it is a test drive, I am unable to take it off-road, but having owned a Nissan X-Trail Ti myself, it’s off-road capabilities are outstanding. It does and goes where you want it to… And you worry less about damaging it because it’s cheaper!

The dual tail pipes, 18″ wheels and rear spoiler make it look more aggressive. Features like rain-sensing wipers and auto-sensing headlights help with the elements.

You either love it or you hate it – the exterior styling isn’t for everyone. This new refined model is definately more beautiful then the last model.

Interior

This car does everything plus a little more. Extra little refinements you wouldn’t expect for a Japanese brand that makes cars which are also affordable.

It’s the little buttons from the driver seat which I liked playing with. The electronically adjustable steering column, the electronic folding rear 2nd row seats, the keyless start/stop button, dual moonroof with electronic blinds, electronic tailgate, rear air-conditioning in the pillars between front and rear doors, satellite navigation, rear parking camera and many other small luxuries which make life that little bit easier and add a little bit of fun in the mix. The Bose sound system is wicked – 11 speakers plus 2 subwoofers! It’s crazy! Although – when it’s up loud… there are little rattles here and there which are annoying.

There is plenty of space for all passengers. The boot space is good, although the boot floor is a little high which limits the cargo area.

Driver comfort is almost flawless. Footwell is spacious, although I really don’t like the foot activated parking brake. I feel it should have been an electronic push button brake. The driver seat is electric and has 3 memory function. Satellite Navigation is easy to use, as well as all the other controls on the dash. I found everything to be in easy reach and the dash is attractive to look at.

Engine

Using the same 3.5 litre V6, 191kW engine as the Nissan Maxima, the Murano has a good amount of power behind it, even being such a large car.

If you’re after quick acceleration, top speeds and a fun quick shift engine,  maybe try elsewhere. The tiptronic works well, but just didn’t do it for me…  Just keep it in auto and enjoy the smooth ride.

The thing I didn’t like (well… miss rather) is the sound of the engine. When  I drive a big chunky 4×4, I want to hear the high pitch ringing noise that  European luxury 4×4′s have under heavy acceleration. I think it’s a Euro  thing – like the heavy thud of the solid doors. I guess the Japanese will catch  up one day.

Safety

Outside safety includes the sharp white Xenon headlights and rear LED lights which are bright and quick.

Again this car has all the European car safety features, 2 front, 2 side and 2 curtain airbags, traction control, electronic brake distribution (EBD), ABS and all the other features that make this car super safe and perfect for the young family.

Braking is good, but doesn’t have that strong solid feel as the Audi Q5 I test drove recently. It has a very Japanese feeling once again… Slightly tinny.

Likes: I love the little touches here and there – like the electronic folding rear seats, moonroof blind and start button for the price range. Also Nissan finally make a good looking key!

Dislikes: The typical Japanese feel – not the solid ‘real’ thud of the door feeling. It has the fake solid thud by adding extra rubber seals.

Would I buy it: Absolutely! Well… yes and no. If I wanted a real luxury car, but didn’t quite have the cash to purchase a European one, I would buy it. If I wasn’t fussy about brands, I’d definately would. A Nissan wouldn’t ever be on my consideration list otherwise.

Price: $62,000 driveaway! This is for the top of the range Murano Ti.

Final say: Great car, great package, luxurious, comfortable, intelligent, stylish, alot of fun with strong presence on the roads. BUT as I’ve said many times about other cars, it depends on the colour combination. If you get a dull colour, you’ll have a dull car! Spec up and choose your colours wisely.