In preparation for this article, I noticed that I only wrote one review of the Nissan Murano. It was a throwback review for a 2009 model that I rented way back when. You would think that I would have published something sooner – in particular, this generation of Murano that have been around since the 2015 model year.
There had been two that I worked with. Their reviews appeared in other publications that I contribute to – one in 2015, the other in 2019.
I am happy to report that I will rectify that issue by presenting this review on the 2021 Nissan Murano…
Perhaps this is a good time to even discuss this vehicle. You have heard that inventories are low on new vehicles around the world. The microchip/semiconductor shortage has slowed down and shuttered new vehicle production throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the most popular vehicles that consumers want are simply not there to fulfill a huge demand for them.
Nissan is not alone in this situation. Some of their vehicles are low in inventory. New products have been delayed due to these supply chain issues. However, there is some inventory available. Most of them just happen to be the Murano.
Murano sales have slowed in 2021, while other models, such as the Rogue, Sentra, and Kicks flying off the lots. You would think that the Murano would be a great vehicle to take home when the economy is rebounding and the demand for new vehicle are outpacing supply.
The question is simple: Why are you not even shopping for the Nissan Murano?
Since its introduction in 2014, the Murano is one of the few mid-sized, two-row SUVs that offer a balance in capacity, capability, and everyday usage. It also offers a premium feel and contemporary style. Since its debut in 2002, the Murano has always bucked the trend by creating a new one in its segment. Even after seven model years, the Murano continues to polarize and attract customers wanting something different to meet their needs.
After all, it is a charming vehicle. The edgy looks still hold up after these past seven model years. Not much has changed since its update in 2019, with its mesh V-shaped grille, combination headlamp units, floating roof, C-pillar glass illusion, and sizeable door and liftgate openings.
My tester was the top-of-the-line Platinum trim. In this model, there is a tasteful chrome treatment all around. The finishing touch is a set of 20-inch dark finished alloy wheels. In all, Murano speaks to an upmarket buyer looking for something special from a Nissan showroom.
One can easily point out how much some of the Murano’s interior bits are a bit old compared to the new designs found in the Rouge and the upcoming 2022 Pathfinder. However, if it still works, save the change for the next generation.
With that said, I like the high quality of the cabin. The touch points are superior in many ways, while offering functionality that continues to be logical. My Platinum tester ups the ante with luxurious trim and upholstery in this standout Mocha color. I’m talking on the level of the current Infiniti QX80.
The front seats are a great example of this sumptuous cabin. The quilted motif befits this trim level perfectly. The seats are comfortable, although a bit more bolstering will make these just right. Rear seat room is great with good entry and exit. Seating for three across is doable, but tall people may want to adjust the seatbacks to clear the sunroof.
Again, there will be some that will clock the Murano for not aging too well. Let me give you this argument. The instrument cluster is readable with larger font in the information screen and two very readable dials on each side of it. The NissanConnect infotainment system has been improving over this time with quicker response to smartphone integration and a cleaner, more logical eight-inch touchscreen. Bose offers up 11 speakers throughout the cabin of clean sound.
It is the details that make the Murano worth looking at. It is a subject that I have been exploring of late, but one should appreciate the fact that there is a shifter for the transmission. An actual lever on the console! In a day where shift-by-wire is the direction the automotive industry continues to go, there is nothing like the feel of the Murano’s shifter in this day and age.
Open the liftgate and start with a generous and well-shaped 31.1 cubic feet of cargo space. My tester came with a tonneau cover and a choice of cargo protection mats. Fold down the rear seats for up to 65.0 cubic feet of elongated cargo. If you are OK with the sloping roof out back, you should be good with the cargo configuration overall.
Powering the Murano is Nissan’s VQ35 engine – a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque Connected to Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission and the Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, you have a driveline that truly does do the job as intended. Performance was very good, and the transmission was well-behaved. Passing maneuvers were done without any drama from the driveline.
As for fuel economy, the Environmental Protection Agency stated that this particular Murano will achieve an estimated 20 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway.
The ride quality was smooth. Rougher roads were managed quite well with absorbent shocks and suspension systems. However, there was a bit of softness in the handling feel. Nonetheless, the Murano was poised when it needed to be. There was a tinge of roll and lean, but it was completely under control in all situations.
On-center feel of the steering was also on the soft side. The turning and steering action was clearly precise. Brakes were fine with solid stops observed in normal and panic situations. Pedal feel was also very good.
While I alluded to the Murano’s premium feel and look, you might be put off by the pricing. To be honest, the sticker price for this top-of-the-line Platinum AWD of $48,635 is more realistic than you think. For reference, the Murano lineup starts from $32,810.
A lot of vehicles in its class have scaled up into this price range, not just because of supply chain issues and the pandemic. It has been a multi-year trend that has sent new vehicle consumers to rethink their choice of purchasing one.
What if a consumer is ready to buy of lease a new vehicle? What if they can justify a vehicle, such as the Nissan Murano, in their budget? What if they can get a good selection of this vehicle now?
The answer to these questions is quite simple.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Walser Nissan Wayzata, Wayzata, MN
All photos by Randy Stern