As we drive on the panoramic Interstate 90—the longest interstate highway in the US, on the way from New York to Niagara Falls—we experience a peculiar thing about our vehicle. The steering response changes according to speed. It becomes more nimble at low speeds, making parking and reversing easier, while at high speeds the system becomes more rigid, increasing feel and response. The vehicle we’re driving is Nissan Murano and the technology is called speed-sensitive power steering system.
The Murano is a five-seater midsize crossover, with ample room for all passengers and very good luggage space. There are four trim levels (S, SV, SL and Platinum). Prices start from $29,740 (for the S) to $39,180 (for the top-end Platinum). It’s a smart choice if you want an upscale, V6-powered crossover, without having to pay over $50,000 for a midsize Mercedes-Benz or BMW.
We take a detour via the Finger Lakes region and ask random strangers if they like the design or not. It elicits mixed responses. Some like its swept silhouette; others feel the shape is too aggressive.
The entry-level trims ride on 18-inch wheels; we’re driving the top-end Platinum, which rides on large 20-inch wheels, giving it a raised stance. These are fitted with P235/55R20 all-season tyres, providing a smooth and confident ride in most conditions. The Platinum trim also gets silver roof rails, which are eye-catching.
During low-light conditions and in the night, the LED headlamps create a light pattern that replicates natural daylight. The standard LED daytime running lights arch around the headlights, and provide a low-intensity but highly visible light.
We encounter heavy rainfall and extremely low-light conditions near Buffalo. The fog-lights, integrated into the front bumper, create a low and wide projection, helping increase visibility. At the rear, the 15-LED tail-lights with side marker bulbs provide enhanced visibility, and increased safety.
The cabin is plush; craftsmanship is of a high order. In the top-of-the-line Platinum trim, it is done up in Mocha leather—the quality matches what you find in a luxury car. The front seats are climate-controlled (heated and cooled) —helping you keep dry and cool when it’s hot outside, and warm you up when the temperature drops. The steering wheel is nice to hold and gets both power-tilt and power-telescoping functions, with a memory position.
The sound system is by Bose; it has 11 speakers including dual subwoofers—sound clarity is a given.
Lights can pamper. As the sun goes down, the ambient lighting casts a warm glow throughout the cabin, adding another layer to its premium interior environment.
A lot of technologies have been brought in from the luxury segment; for example, the Around View Monitor. Using four cameras, this monitor creates a virtual composite 360-degree image of the Murano from above and displays it on the touchscreen monitor, much like a bird-eye’s view. It helps visually show the vehicle’s position relative to the lines around parking spaces and adjacent objects, allowing you to manoeuvre into parking spots with ease.
There are ample safety features, including stability control, driver attention alert, blind-spot warning system, among others. It also gets the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System, which includes dual-stage supplemental front airbags with seat-belt and occupant-classification sensors. The inflation rate of these dual-stage airbags adjusts depending on crash severity and seat-belt usage. In addition, there is a driver supplemental knee airbag, front side-impact airbags built into the seat, and roof-mounted curtain supplemental airbags.
If you want even more luxury and safety features, may we suggest buying the Platinum Technology Package, for $2,260. It includes intelligent cruise control, forward emergency braking, predictive forward collision warning system and a power panoramic moonroof. (A moonroof is just like a sunroof, but its panel is made of glass and thus it can let light in even when closed.)
Under the hood sits the powerful and fuel-efficient 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine. It delivers 260-horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. It’s powerful enough to take the Murano from 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds, and frugal enough to deliver 28 mpg on the highway. The fuel tank capacity is 19 gallons, so the ideal range on a full tank is over 500 miles. You can achieve more by some smart driving manoeuvres—we got 30 mpg, by using cruise control as often as we could and driving within speed limits. (City fuel-economy is rated at 21 mpg.)
There are two driving modes—Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) and All-Wheel Drive (AWD). While we drove the top-of-the-line Murano Platinum AWD which costs $40,780, the base AWD model, the S, costs just $31,340. It gets the same engine, a lot of luxury and safety features, and, at the price, is an absolute steal.