The Nissan Murano is a mid-size crossover SUV first manufactured by Nissan in December 2002 and sold as a 2003 model. Nissan introduced the Murano as its first crossover SUV for the United States and Canada. Designed at Nissan Design America in La Jolla, California, the first generation Murano was based on the Nissan FF-L platform first used by the third generation Altima. The European version of the Murano began sales in 2004 and is available only in one version.
The Murano was Nissan's only crossover SUV in the U.S. until September 2007 when the new 2008 Nissan Rogue went on sale. In Canada the X-Trail had been on sale as Nissan's second car-based SUV since 2004 as a 2005 model, it was replaced by the new 2008 Nissan Rogue in late 2007. The Murano is sized between the Xterra and the Pathfinder, but is priced slightly higher than the Nissan Pathfinder.
The Murano was nominated for the North American Truck of the Year award for 2003. It was also named the best premium mid-size SUV by AutoPacific.
The name Murano comes from a region of Venice, Italy which is known for the hand blown glass produced there.
First generation (2003-2007)
The first generation Nissan Murano was powered by a 3.5 litre 245 bhp V6 engine, also used in several other Nissan models like the Altima, Maxima, and Nissan 350Z, but specifically tuned for use in the Murano. Available with standard front-wheel-drive (FWD) and optional all-wheel-drive (AWD), the Nissan Murano is one of the largest vehicles utilising a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Fuel economy was rated at 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway (same mpg FWD and AWD on the new EPA specifications).
An independent suspension on all four wheels was used for class-leading ride and handling.
A full set of airbags, steel reinforced cabin, and head restraints were safety features designed to protect the interior while VDC, ABS, EBD and brake assist were mechanical safety features. VDC includes a form of traction control embedded into the car's onboard computer and is designed to provide 'joy' to drive.
The Murano received a crash test rating of 5-stars in all categories but vehicle rollover (4-stars) from the NHTSA.
For the 2006 model year, the Murano received some updates in the form of LED tailamps and turn signals, standard color information screen, available back-up camera (standard in Canada for all models), GPS and a restyled front end with some minor trim updates.
Second generation (2009- )
Nissan skipped the 2008 model year with the introduction of the next generation Murano as a 2009 model. The 2009 Murano made its public debut at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show in November and sales began in early January 2008.
The revised exterior styling bears an increased family resemblance to the Rogue, while still maintaining distinctly Murano cues with its aggressive front fascia and rear quarter windows. The interior has also been completely redesigned, with the use of a more traditional instrument cluster and notably higher-quality materials.
The 2009 Murano is offered in three trim levels: the base S, the mid-grade SL, and the top of the line LE. The performance-oriented SE model is no longer available. The S and SL are offered with standard i-AWD (Intuitive All-Wheel Drive), with optional FWD available. The LE trim is AWD only.
New features, some of them optional or available only on the LE grade, include rain-sensing wipers, double-stitched leather seats, power rear lift gate, power fold-up rear seats, iPod integration, and a hard-drive based, touchscreen navigation system. The S and SL feature aluminum interior accents, while the LE sports wood-tone trim. Like the first-generation model, there is no third-row seat. For 2011 Nissan has announced a Murano convertible.
The Murano is now based on the Nissan D platform shared with the fourth generation Nissan Altima and the new 2009 Nissan Maxima. Nissan has given the 2009 Murano a revised version of the award-winning 3.5L VQ engine rated at 265 horsepower (198 kW), an increase of 20 over the previous model. Torque is rated at 248 ft·lbf (336 N·m). The engine is mated to a revised Continuously Variable Transmission with Adaptive Shift Control. EPA fuel economy is rated at 18 City / 23 Highway.
Standard safety features on all trims include 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake-assist, and EBD; electronic stability control; and front, side-, and side-curtain airbags. The NHTSA awarded the Murano 4 stars on the frontal crash test and 5 stars for side impacts.
On September 29, 2008, Nissan released the next generation Murano in Japan. It is targeted mainly at men in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and is priced between 3,150,000 yen and 4,042,500 yen, about 200,000 to 300,000 yen more expensive than the first generation model. Nissan plans to sell the vehicle in 170 countries.