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 2015 Nissan Murano Platinum Road Test Review
By : Trevor Hofmann
 At first glance you might think Nissanís new Murano is all about style, but its slick design is only part of the story. Today we review a top-tier Platinum model thatís better equipped than many luxury SUVs, but the big news is what comes standard in base trim for just $29,998. Loads of exterior LEDs, 18-inch alloys, proximity entry, pushbutton start, a 7-inch MID, 8-inch infotainment with nav and a rearview monitor, dual-zone auto HVAC, hands-free phone, text messaging and streaming audio, and more. Keep reading for all the details.......
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I don't know about you, but Nissan's new styling direction really speaks my language. Every time I see a new Maxima or Murano
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
pass by, my neck takes a spin and eyes lock on until it disappears in the distance. The Japanese brand is certainly onto something.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to pick up my first Murano in near top-line SL AWD trim earlier this year. I was impressed in almost every respect, but I must say its over-the-top mother of pearl style interior accents challenged my sensibilities to the extreme. I gave Nissan points for bravery, the unique pearled treatment covering almost the entire instrument panel and taking up much of the door panels front to back, not to mention the top cap of the gearshift knob, most of the lower console surfacing, the slit between the two middle armrests as well as the back half of the centre console, but despite once owning a sweet looking golden sunburst Gibson ES 355 copy with
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
a similar effect on its pick guard, fret and head detailing, it's not the kind of memory I want to dredge up in my next ride.

How glad I was when the same SUV in Platinum trim arrived, its more businesslike seemingly hand-painted grainy silver trim a much more soothing atmosphere for my contemporary tastes; an application that's available in lower trims as well, incidentally. Its build quality didn't help my usually dormant OCD characteristics, mind you, the left side of the instrument panel trim not lining up with the same piece on the door by a very noticeable millimeter, whereas the same place on the right side was pushed inward about two millimeters. The gap between each piece of
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
trim was also wider on the passenger side. Nissan, if you're going to go with a lighter trim on a black background it has to line up in order to look good. Was this particular SUV in an MVA and then rebuilt? I hope so for Nissan's sake, because if this is the fit and finish coming out of Canton, Mississippi I'll need to ask them to please take assembly back to the old Murano's Nissan Shatai facility in Kanda, Fukuoka, Japan and start over. Let's just consider this a one-off problem and move on, although if you're seriously considering a new Murano, make sure to check over the details of the one you're buying to make sure it measures up to your personal quality requirements.

Taken
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
aback, I decided to take a step back and have another look. Like my previous Murano tester, this top-line Platinum version was one of the better-finished mid-size crossovers I've seen from a mainstream volume producer, its misaligned trim bits aside. There are loads of premium-level soft-touch surfaces, including the instrument panel surfacing in front of the driver, the hood over the primary instruments done in a stylish white threaded leatherette, plus more soft synthetic next to the centre stack and ahead of the front passenger, some of which wraps around to the front portions of each door panel at which point they surround both handles. The door uppers are expectedly made from pliable plastic as well, both front and back, whereas the armrests are covered in a nice leatherette material, as are the partially padded door inserts just above. Somehow in all its complexity,
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Nissan has managed to create a wonderfully organic and significantly refined look that I happen to like a lot.

Some especially nice detailing includes satin-silver trim on the steering wheel spokes, around the vents, the centre stack, shifter, and trimming each analog gauge, while chrome adds a bit of bling to those steering wheel spokes, around each circular knob and dial on the centre stack, etcetera. Additional upscale accoutrements include padded fabric wrapped A-pillars, something very rare to see in the mainstream volume sector.

At first glance the aforementioned primary gauge cluster seems simple and straightforward,
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
and I suppose the tachometer and speedometer, finished in traditional white on black, aren't out of the ordinary, but between the two sits a considerably sized full-colour high-resolution TFT multi-information display filled to the brim with ultra-useful driver-specific info. A thick and substantive leather-clad steering wheel frames the entire package while incorporating all necessary controls for the MID and more on those satin-silver surfaced spokes I mentioned a moment ago, while the switchgear quality is superb. The same goes for the impressively damped and tightly fitted buttons and knobs on the centre stack including those surrounding the large high-res infotainment touchscreen and HVAC interface just below, while Nissan dresses up the panel in a sharp looking piano black lacquered plastic.

That infotainment touchscreen is large and stuffed full of slick graphics on a sharp,
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
clear display. Its features include a backup camera, navigation, phone controls, access to a great sounding Bose audio system, as well as vehicle settings, additional info on just about anything to do with the Murano, and a useful menu button at centre for guiding you through the entire system. Just below, the dual-zone auto HVAC system is dead simple to use thanks to a two-temperature-dial layout, small digital display and twin rows of smartly assorted buttons.

Proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition is standard on the SL and this Platinum trimmed version, while two-way seat heaters are standard across the line. My tester's perforated leather upholstered front buckets were not only comfortable and ideally supportive, but also benefited from climate controlled forced
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
ventilation that was extremely refreshing during the heat of summer. The rear seating area was even roomier with impressive legroom and more than enough headroom for taller teens, not to mention ample shoulder and hip room, while it felt even more open and airy due to an expansive panoramic glass sunroof with powered sunshade overhead. A few of the Platinum model's rear seating area features that don't come in SL trim include heatable rear outboard seats and power return rear seatbacks. This is easily the stuff of a $43,498 SUV with or without a premium badge, but before you start getting excited there's a lot more that comes with this top-tier Nissan.

Back in the driver's seat the Platinum improves nighttime visibility via full LED headlights, while 20-inch machine-finished alloy wheels on 235/55R20 all-season tires
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
enhance the CUV's already impressive handling. I don't know about you, but anytime I've experienced adaptive cruise control while on a road trip I arrive a lot more refreshed, while the memory driver's seat and mirrors from lower trims also adjust the powered tilt and telescopic steering column in the Platinum. Lastly, the Murano's suite of active safety features gets bumped up to include predictive forward collision warning and forward emergency braking in this top-line trim, just like an Infiniti.

Looking around the Murano Platinum makes me wonder why Nissan didn't just wrap the rest of the pillars with fabric and stick the premium brand's logos all over the car in order to eke out an extra $10k or so, but that wouldn't be Nissan or Infiniti's style. They're both about value, the Murano actually starting at a shockingly
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
low $29,998, plus $1,750 for freight and pre-delivery prep, while including front-wheel drive instead of standard all-wheel drive as is the case in SL trim and above, but still featuring a standard V6, proximity-sensing passive access with pushbutton start/stop, the same 178 mm (7.0-inch) MID between the primary gauges I noted earlier (that Nissan calls Advanced Drive-Assist Display), the navigation and rearview camera enhanced 203 mm (8.0-inch) multi-touch control infotainment system, dual-zone auto climate control with microfiltration, and this model's Brushed Silver (or Jasper Pearlescent) trim I previously went on and on about ad nauseam. Sounds pretty good for a standard menu, huh? Just wait, there's more.

The base Murano S also gets Fine Vision electroluminescent primary gauges, while the
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
infotainment system includes voice recognition, Bluetooth phone connectivity and streaming audio, hands-free text messaging, NissanConnect with mobile apps, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with satellite radio, an aux jack plus front and rear USB ports, Radio Data System (RDS), and illuminated steering-wheel-mounted controls. Heatable front seats are also standard, as are 60/40-split reclining rear seats with a centre armrest, folding rear seatbacks with cargo area levers, stainless steel kick plates, rear passenger air conditioning vents, variable intermittent wipers, a tilt and telescoping steering column, cruise control,
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
dual illuminated vanity mirrors, an overhead console with a sunglasses holder (which features a too-large hump in the middle that doesn't fit an ordinary pair of sunglasses at all – epic fail with this one), an engine block heater, chrome door handles, powered heatable side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, automatic on/off headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, 18-inch machine-finished alloy rims on 235/65R18 all-season rubber, hill start assist, four-wheel discs with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, emergency brake assist, traction and stability control, tire pressure monitoring, a security alarm and immobilizer, plus all six regular airbags including a blocker for the driver's knees.

Interestingly the second-rung $33,998 Murano SV is priced about where most of its competitors start, while adding fog lights, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel,
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
a leather-clad shift knob, remote start with Intelligent Climate Control, an eight-way powered driver's seat with powered lumbar support replacing the six-way manual seat, a powered panoramic moonroof with one-touch open and close, and a powered liftgate.

The $39,398 Murano SL AWD I tested previously is likely one of the more popular models, as it includes the majority of previously mentioned items as well as an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an Around View monitor instead of the standard rearview camera, leather upholstery replacing the standard cloth, driver's seat and side mirror memory, a four-way powered front-passenger's seat, a Bose audio upgrade with speed-sensitive volume and 11 speakers including two subs, adjustable
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
ambient lighting, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, silver roof rails instead of black, plus blind spot warning featuring rear cross traffic alert with moving object detection.

Incidentally, the powered rear seatback release button I mentioned earlier is located next to the driver's left knee and lowers the 60-percent portion of the back seats, a really handy feature if you're picking up the kids from the ski hill on a cold winter's day and don't feel like getting out and trudging through the muck to drop it manually.

The cargo area should be large enough for most family's needs, with 1,121 litres (39.6 cubic feet) when the rear seats are in use and 1,979 litres (69.9 cubic feet) when they're folded down. As for cargo area length and height details, it spans 940 mm (37.0 inches) from the backs of the rear seats to the liftgate and 1,092 mm
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
(45.0 inches) across, while you should be able to fit something 808 mm (31.8 inches) tall inside as long as you can get it though the hatch. You might be surprised at the way Nissan has finished it too. Like the rest of the cabin, it gets extremely nice carpeting covering almost every millimeter.

Those increased cargo space numbers make sense, of course, because the new Murano has grown in almost every direction. Its length is now up 99 mm (3.4 inches) over the previous generation and 117 mm (4.6 inches) over the original, while its 1,915-mm (75.0-inch) width expands on the second-gen model by 33 mm (1.3 inches), which was about the same width as the first-generation Murano, yet its overall height is 10 mm (0.4 inches) lower than the second-gen Murano and 16 mm (0.6 inches) closer to the ground than the original, which helps to give it that
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
nice long, lean look. Interestingly though, its wheelbase has remained more or less the same throughout its three generations, first measuring 2,825 mm (111.2 in) in 2003 before being slightly reduced to 2,824 mm (111.0 inches) in 2009, where it sits now.

That last number seems to be ideal for both interior roominess and overall driving dynamics, because the Murano has long been one of the better handling mid-size CUVs. Its undercarriage looks the same as its peers on paper, with the usual fully independent front strut and rear multilink setup with stabilizer bars at both ends, but the combination of a lower than average centre of gravity, nicely tuned components and a stiff body structure result in good stability through the corners yet excellent ride comfort. It tracks ideally on the highway too, while wonderfully maneuverable around town. Visibility from the driver's seat is also good considering
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
its raked rear roofline and narrow rear quarter windows. Braking is good for the class too, with less fade after repeated aggressive application than most competitors, plus excellent emergency response and control.

All this is critically important for a vehicle that comes standard with 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, these sizable numbers produced by Nissan's venerable DOHC, 24-valve, 3.5-litre V6 engine with continuously variable valve timing. Still, while its power and torque are strong for a base engine, they don't measure up to most rivals' optional V6s, while some also offer beefier V6 engines as standard kit, with direct-injection, cylinder deactivation, auto idle start/stop, and other performance and fuel saving additions, no less. Just the same the Murano's engine feels responsive from standstill, powering away with spirited ease while making haste on the freeway where it's easily capable of passing long highway
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
trucks in a pinch. Even its fuel economy is quite good when compared to mid-size challengers, no doubt due to its advanced continuously variable transmission.

Most in the know will agree that CVTs are very efficient, partially due to fewer moving parts that otherwise result in greater parasitic power loss from added friction, and also because their "gear" ratio is always in the perfect position to maximize power and efficiency, but just the same they've also been blasted for an annoying "rubber band" feel and response that's not as positive as a regular torque converted automatic. This isn't the case with Nissan's Xtronic CVTs, however, as the Japanese brand has been developing this type of gearbox for more than a decade and its devotion to the technology has resulted in a transmission
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
that delivers snappy faux shift increments that are very similar to what you can experience with a regular automatic. I wish Nissan had gone the extra mile and included steering wheel-mounted paddles with this top-line Murano at least, but DIY shifting is possible via the gear lever.

If the CVT is left to its own devices and your right foot is more relaxed than engaged the Murano can achieve a claimed five-cycle EnerGuide fuel economy rating of 11.0 L/100km in the city and 8.2 on the highway with FWD, or 11.2 city and 8.3 highway with as-tested AWD, which is not bad at all.

Now that we're talking practicalities, I should mention that the new Murano received the highest Top Safety Pick + award from the IIHS as long as it's equipped
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
with its optional front crash prevention systems, although the NHTSA only gave it 4 stars out of 5 due to divided results in frontal crash safety, the driver getting 5 stars and the front passenger only 3; so maybe you shouldn't yell shotgun too quickly if catching a ride in this SUV. It gets 5 stars in side-impact tests, however, but again only 4 in rollover tests, where it was given a 15.9-percent chance to roll if using sharp, aggressive maneuvers to avoid an accident. To be fair most of the Murano's competitors suffer from the same rollover fate, but in the same breath the majority achieve 5 star frontal ratings so therefore get 5 star scores overall. Nissan will want to remedy this situation quickly, but as it is the same so-so safety score also shows up in more recent 2016 NHTSA tests.

I hate to leave such an impressive CUV in such a negative light, but the facts are the facts and now that you have them at your disposal you can choose your mid-size SUV based on priorities. If alluring styling from the outside in, athletic performance, good fuel economy, an impressive standard and optional set of features, decent expected reliability, and excellent value matter most, I highly recommend the new Murano, as I certainly enjoyed time spent with this fashionably functional crossover SUV.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)
 
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