So we got a 2009 Nissan Murano
We don’t like ragging on Nissan. Even though they have blatantly refused to give us ads, we like the company, if only because they give us access to their press fleet, however late we may get them. They also make good cars, starting from the satanic GT-R right down to our “recommended list” Tiida, all of which we’ve driven. But driving press-fleet cars after everyone else means we sometimes get abused cars with peeling trim, creased leather or below-average performance. However, the 2009 Nissan Murano we got wasn’t too old, having racked up less than 5000 km. But some previous journalist’s possible offroad excursion meant there was a loose panel beneath our Murano that kept clunking throughout our test drive.
But ignore that isolated defect, and what we have here is a crossover 4×4 that is almost in the league of the Lexus RX 350. It also looks like a Klingon, but that uniqueness in styling is actually its strong suit.
The toothy grille is flanked by HID headlights and parking sensors. Strong disc brakes hide behind the 18-inch alloys. Even with all that, our LE AWD trim did not have bumper-mounted foglights. Lots of soft plastic cladding underneath make offroading a no-no. If you peer at the above photo, you might spot the loose panel hanging underneath, below the lower grille.
The organic rear ditches the old model’s vertical tail lamps for new horizontal ones, and adds a colourful “XTRONIC CVT” badge that proudly proclaims your manual-gear allergy. The new Murano also has a noticeably bigger butt than its predecessor.
The fattening exercise does not pay off, with the same sloping-windowed luggage area under the powered tailgate, and the volume hasn’t changed. The rear seats fold flat using a simple lever, and can be raised back up at the touch of a button.
If the gadgetry wasn’t enough of a hint, the interior is covered in premium soft-touch materials, with hard plastics used only in below-the-belt areas, much like in the Lexus RX and BMW X3. Unlike in real luxury brands, the leather may not be real, but no one can tell the difference. Also, the LCD computer is lifted straight out of Infiniti, and our tester included a rear-view camera with guiding lines too.
The “gearbox” is a simple P-R-N-D affair, with a tiptronic function to simulate instantaneous gear shifting. Hidden in the dark area is the 4WD LOCK button that actually worked well against bogging down on loose sand.
The front seats are wide and mildly bolstered, with good power adjustment options and lots of space.
And the rear seats are as spacious as in any of today’s big midsize sedans.
The optional panoramic glass roof is interesting, although the rear glass panel does not go all the way back over the rear passengers. However, the front panel does open like a sunroof, unlike the useless non-opening ones seen in some VW and Audi models.
The previous Murano was a massive hit for Nissan, even if it was practically-challenged. The new one ups the ante with an increase in features. However, sales may not be as strong as before, with an increase in price that recession-challenged buyers may be finding hard to digest without a luxury badge to fall back on. As our upcoming driving review will prove, it is a decent crossover that is almost good enough to be a Lexus.
For UAE pricing info and specs, visit the Nissan Murano buyer guide.