2012 Nissan Murano Review

2012 Nissan Murano - The upscale, carlike 2012 Nissan Murano SUV/crossover vehicle provides comfort, performance, roominess and sportiness.


Prices: $29,960-$44,540

The Nissan Murano debuted in 2003, but updates have kept it sharp and competitive with other mid-size SUV/crossover vehicles.It's luxurious enough to wear a badge from Nissan's upscale Infiniti division.

Sculpted body lines and chromed exhaust pipe tips help give the Murano a sporty look, and it has definite sporty performance.

The Murano was overhauled for 2009 and updated a bit for 2011, so the 2012 model has small trim changes and the addition of a new Platinum Edition equipped with such things as 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

There are minor changes for the 2013 Murano.

The 2012 Murano, which I tested, comes with front-wheel drive or an advanced all-wheel drive system that automatically adjusts to road conditions. The Murano also has stability and traction control systems.

While solidly built, the made-in-Japan Murano has a strong, advanced 3.5-liter V-6. It kicks out 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque.(A convertible version's 3.5-liter V-6 provides 265 horsepower.) Merging into fast traffic and quick passes on highways are no problem.

The Murano V-6 is hooked to a smooth continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which is one of the best in the industry.

That combo provides smooth, fast acceleration. Only regular-grade fuel is needed, and estimated economy is 18 miles per gallon in the city and 23-24 on highways.

The steering is nicely geared for safe maneuvers, and the all-independent suspension helps provide a comfortable, supple ride, which is never mushy. The Murano has sporty car handling,while the all-disc brakes confidently stop it. They have electronic brake-force distribution and brake-assist features.

Prices range from $29,960 to $40,560 for the four-door hardtop models, which come in S, SV, SL and LE versions. I tested an all-wheel-drive SL, which stickers at $38,830.

The rather offbeat four-passenger convertible, which comes only witih all-wheel drive, is called the CrossCabriolet and lists at $44,540.

Standard for the Murano S are a pushbutton start, six-speaker audio system, multizone automatic air conditioning, keyless entry, no less than six windshield washer jets, 18-inch alloy wheels and power windows and mirrors.

There's also an adjustable steering wheel. But the foot-operated emergency brake feels awkward.

The SV adds power front seats, dual-panel moonroof and steering wheel audio controls. It also has a standard back-up camera. That's a handy item because it's almost impossible to see objects close behind the Murano out the rear window. Large dual outside mirrors for all Muranos help rear visibility.

The SL has a premium sound system, heated front seats, leather seats and a handy power hatch, while the LE adds heated rear seats, woodgrain interior trim, 20-inch wheels with a titanium colored finish and HID headlights.

The two-door CrossCabriolet adds the five extra horsepower, 20-inch wheels and a slick convertible soft top.

There are several option packages that contains items such as a navigation system and 7-inch VGA touch screen.

Safety features include a bunch of air bags.

Getting in or out of the quiet interior is easy because doors open wide and the Murano's floor is only moderately high. It's filled with upscale materials and comfortably seats four tall adults.

Five would fit, but the middle of the rear seat is too firm for comfort and best left to the fold-down center armrest, which contains dual cupholders. Two front cupholders are conveniently located on the console.

The interior has backlit gauges that can be quickly read in bright sunlight, and most controls are easy to use. However, some secondary controls at the center of the dashboard are a bit awkward to use because they're on a mildly slanted surface.

Front seats provide good support during spirited driving. There are a good number of storage areas, including a large center bin and spacious glove compartment, although rear-door pockets are too small to be of much use.

Front power window operation is annoying because it's hard to stop the windows when they're zooming down and up.

The opening for the roomy cargo area is wide, but relatively high.The 60/40 split rear seatbacks easily flip forward to impressively enlarge the cargo area.

The lined hood opens smoothly on twin struts, revealing easily reached fluid-filler areas.

The Murano shows that a vehicle need not have a clean-sheet design to be desirable.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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