One of the market's first "crossover" sport utility vehicles, the Nissan Murano has been freshened for 2006. Exterior changes include a new front grille, brushed aluminum rear bumper protector and roof rail on SE models, new foglamp rings, LED rear combination taillamps, chrome accent side sills on SL and SE models, new lower front bumper, and a new wheel design. As for options, a new leather package is now available, as is illuminated steering wheel controls, a rearview camera system, and two new exterior colors: Sunset Red and Brilliant Silver.
Nissan created the Murano with the North American market in mind. The company wanted to offer a vehicle that could successfully blend SUV utility and capacity with car-like ride and handling. The Murano is based on the same platform as the Maxima and Quest, and benefits from a wider front and rear track (e.g. the distance between the wheels on the same axle), which results in increased vehicle stability and a more car-like ride. Nissan refers to the Murano's exterior design as "sculpture in motion" and says that the design conveys movement even when the vehicle is motionless. The new exterior treatments for 2006 modernize both the front end and the LED taillamps, which now illuminate quicker to give following drivers more reaction time. As an added benefit, LED bulbs also last longer and burn more brightly than ordinary bulbs.
Inside, the Murano provides seating for five and imparts a feeling of high tech through the use of real aluminum in the interior. For those who like their vehicle well equipped, there's an available high-output Bose audio system, a navigation system, a DVD entertainment system, leather package, and satellite radio. Standard items include a split-fold rear seat with a reclining function, dual-zone climate controls, and rear air conditioning vents.
Five models make up the Murano line, and include the two-wheel-drive S and SL, and all-wheel-drive S, SL, and SE. All share the same 3.5L V-6 powerplant, which produces 245 hp and 246 lb.-ft. of torque, and features a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that allows for seamless shifting and infinite gear ratios to increase performance and fuel economy. Safety is not an afterthought with Murano; all models are equipped with an advanced airbag system, side curtain airbags, seat belts with pre-tensioners, and active head restraints for the front seats.
Murano resides in the Midsize Crossover Utility Vehicle segment with seven other competitors, all offering car-like ride and handling, spacious accommodations, and increased fuel economy compared to truck-based SUVs.
The Toyota Highlander is the sales leader in the segment, with calendar year 2005 sales of 137,409, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report.SM Chrysler's Pacifica (85,557 sales in 2005) and the Ford Freestyle (76,739) followed Highlander, with Murano having the fourth-highest sales total in 2005, finding 74,454 customers. The competition will increase in 2006, as the Ford Edge, Saturn Outlook, and Subaru B9 Tribeca enter the market.
|S (CVT)||continuously variable automatic||$27,600||245-hp / 3.5L 6-cyl||20/25|
|SL (CVT)||continuously variable automatic||$29,150||245-hp / 3.5L 6-cyl||20/25|
|SE (CVT)||continuously variable automatic||$31,700||245-hp / 3.5L 6-cyl||19/24|