Nissan Murano ST 2012 Review
Murano glass has earned a thousand years of fame for its leading design and clarity. And while the Nissan Murano - yes, named after the Venetian artware - is nowhere near as bright and sparkling, it can claim to have led others into the modern car-based crossover field a decade ago.
Murano was among the first to think outside the box shape of SUVs, so the design is an almost uninterrupted wedge from grille to rear window. Based on the same platform as the Maxima, the Murano looks more compact than its 4.8m length - but has a surprising amount of space between those sharply inclined front and rear screens.
While tall torsos will feel the roof is close to their heads, there’s plenty of leg room front and rear. Cargo area allows a decent amount of luggage, and with the back row folded down there’s enough capacity for small furniture items from the weekend garage sale mystery tour.
The leather-clad seats are comfortable and the fit-out clean and reasonably classy if you forgive the ungainly block of centre-stack and console for invading more personal cabin space than is really polite.
Under the curved bonnet is a 3.5-litre V6 that puts out 191kw of power and 336Nm of torque, with a continuously-variable transmission delivering to all four wheels with constant all-wheel drive – generally front-biased but feeding more to the rear as needed.
In general town and highway running it claims 10.9L/100km – and wants it to be premium 95RON fuel –although we ran just under 12L/100km in a mixed round.
There’s also a 4WD lock mode for those few who will decide to go offroad, but with just 185mm of ground clearance you’ll come to grief at the first serious washout. But for fire trails and beach treks, it will be fine.
It’s rated to tow 1500kg braked, so small boats, jetskis and the like will be fine. Trailering is a possibility, but if you’re planning to join the big caravan set, you really need to be looking at something with about a tonne more capacity to do it comfortably.
Murano has front, side and full-length curtain airbags, stability and traction controls, anti-brakes with brakeforce distribution to counter the weight of uneven loading and brake assist to give extra force for panic stops.
It hasn't been crash rated by ANCAP but you could easily expect a four-star rating. It’s had a varied history in US tests, with the first generation getting five stars in all categories except rollover (four) and then the current generation faring worse and losing a star on the frontal crash test.
The base ST Murano tested here is priced at $47,990 and well kitted with leather-clad heated and powered front seats, privacy glass, reversing camera, Bluetooth, audio system with hard disk drive and accessory integration, and enough touches of chrome to make you feel dressed-up without being vulgarly overblinged.
But that kind of money will get you into quite a few all-wheel drive rivals. There’s Korean-built Holden Captiva 7 at $42,490 with a 3.0-litre V6 and a reasonable equipment list. The red lion logo means it sells well, but it’s outstripped by others when it comes to performance, dynamics and refinement.
Toyota’s trusty Kluger will give you dependability, comfort and solid quality at $44,490, but the 3.5 litre V6, 201kW/337Nm is undermined by the tired five-speed auto in pushing the hefty SUV, and the looks are on the bland side.
If you want style and substance, there’s the Mazda CX-7 Luxury Sports at $45,990 with a great 2.3-litre turbo four-cylinder. It loses to the Murano in space, but it makes up for it with sparkling performance - and looks just as good.
Murano is a comfortable cruiser and city runner, and is reasonably easy to park once you get the hang of where that curved bonnet ends - the reversing camera helps, but a forwarding camera would be just as useful.
The CVT is not bad for city running in full automatic mode, but unless you’re blessed with the patience of the Dalai Lama, hills or highway lane changes will have you slipping over to the manual mode pretty quickly.
You’ll get smarter performance from the V6, but when you start pushing it you’ll also smart more at the bowser - it doesn’t take long for manual changes in a loaded Murano to bump the fuel consumption up into the high teens.
Ride quality is decent over most surfaces and the handling is good for an SUV, sitting fairly flat through corners and approaching the behaviour standards you could expect from a normal car. But where the driving fun falters is in the steering, which feels over-helped and disconnected.
That won’t be a deal-breaker for most buyers, and for cruising the café strip or clocking-up some long-distance highway stretches, the Murano will be a comfortable but thirsty choice.
Think of this as a high-set car with some soft-road skills and a bigger thirst, and you’re on the right track. As long as the track doesn’t lead into offroad territory.
NISSAN MURANO ST
Resale: 65 per cent
Service intervals: 10,000km/six months
Thirst: 10.9 litres/100km 95 RON, 259g/km CO2
Crash rating: NA
Safety equipment: Six airbags, ABS with EBD and BA
Engine: 3.5-litre V6 petrol, 191kW/336Nm
Transmission: continuously variable automatic, AWD
Body: Five-door wagon, seats five
Dimensions: 4835mm (L), 1835mm (W), 1700mm (H), 2825mm (WB), 1610mm/1610mm tracks front/rear
Tyre size: 18 x 7.5
Spare tyre: full-size alloy
Range and Specs
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