AutoTest File - 2003 Nissan Murano

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Oct 1, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Staff Member

    Jul 6, 2001
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    Style and Substance: Nissan’s Murano turns heads, but is there more to it than curbside flash?


    “SCULPTURE IN MOTION” is how Nissan describes its Murano crossover. Indeed, there’s little chance anyone will mistake the aggressive lines and sporty stance for those of another midsize—or any other size—sport/ute. Based on the owner responses we received, the Murano’s exterior plays a big part in the buying decision.

    “I was drawn to the Murano by its cutting-edge styling,” says one owner. “The combination of rounded lines and sharp features should still look fresh and modern five years from now.”

    If that’s the reaction Nissan hoped for, it seems the company succeeded. In our experience, “too futuristic” is the most often heard Murano criticism. Nissan, though, will accept that opinion. The company says its cars are intended “to be everything to some people, not something for everybody.”

    Not only does the Murano appear futuristic, so too does it embody the future of the midsize ute segment: platform crossovers. Nissan took its FF-L platform (which also underpins the Altima and Maxima sedans, as well as the Quest minivan) and threw in—surprise!—the venerable 3.5-liter dohc V6 that propels just about everything in the company’s product line. Power is transmitted to the wheels via a continuously variable “Xtronic” transmission, which is standard on both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive cars. The Murano is not a truck, and owners appreciate the crossover benefits, especially behind the wheel.

    “The Murano is a great, fun-to-drive car,” one reader says.

    “The best thing is its mountain driving ability. While driving up mountain passes, I blow by BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz SUVs and wagons with ease. You’re out of gears? I’m not!”

    Another owner says his Murano exhibits sport sedan—not wagon or ute—dynamic behavior. While we agree there isn’t much truck-like feel found behind the wheel, our track time reveals the claim might be a bit of a stretch.

    We tested a FWD SL model, and the session betrayed the Murano’s comfort-oriented setup. On the skidpad, we left the transmission in sport mode as we circled the course. Our Murano, without the optional vehicle dynamic control or traction control, ground its way around in predictable, understeering fashion. Lift off the throttle and the nose gently tucks in line. Yaw change in response to throttle inputs is smooth and leisurely. Still, while the suspension setup is hardly of the sport variety, there is a decent amount of grip available. We recorded 0.76 g, no doubt due in part to the standard 235/65R-18 Goodyear Eagle LS tires. Our Buick Rendezvous test yielded 0.72 g, while an Acura MDX and our long-term Volvo XC90 produced measurements of 0.74 and 0.75, respectively. We also recorded 41.5 mph through our 490-foot slalom, with slow response and understeer again the order of the day. Still, the Murano is quicker than the aforementioned vehicles.

    Although the numbers are respectable, track exercises and hard-core enthusiast drives are not the Murano’s strengths. Comfort and ease of use are the more relevant categories.

    In this respect, the drivetrain meets expectations. We found both the engine and transmission extremely smooth, although we were somewhat baffled by significant time variations for 0-to-60-mph runs. It seems as though the CVT’s drive belt is subject to excess slippage after repeated launches. Our best time of 8.0 seconds is quite respectable for a nearly two-ton vehicle (the MDX recorded 7.75 seconds). The same can be said for the four-wheel-disc brakes. We needed only 127 feet for our 60-to-0 mph test, which put the Murano at the top of its class.

    AutoFile respondents say problems are few and far between. One experienced an alternator failure at 8500 miles and waited 29 days for a replacement to arrive from Japan. Respondents reported no other significant glitches, save for the amount of attention the Murano draws. As one says, “When I crank 50 Cent in the grocery store parking lot, it drives the kids wild.”



    Unique design
    Smooth drivetrain
    Car-like road manners

    Draws lots of attention
    Limited cargo space
    Leisurely handling

    Honda Pilot
    Infiniti FX35/45
    Acura MDX



    The Murano is a great buy. The ride is smooth, as is the CVT with its truly seamless shifts. The interior has more head- and legroom than our ’95 Suburban, and the cargo space is efficiently utilized. Even with the powerful V6 I’m getting a decent 22.5 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. My complaint: When the alternator died, it took 29 days to order the part from Japan. They got the car right, but need to improve the service experience. -John Budinich, Anderson, S.C.

    I purchased the Murano because I find it attractive to look at and it has the hauling room that I need. It drives and rides extremely well, but the CVT took me a month to get used too, though it does give me great gas mileage. The only SUV I really considered was the Acura MDX. I do wish it had eight-way power seats instead of four and a leverage handle above the driver’s door. -Richard Pinter, Schaumburg, Ill.

    The Murano styling is unique and I like everything except the front grille. The front corners aren’t visible behind the wheel, but once I adjusted, cutting through traffic and slotting into parking spots is now a breeze. The V6 is wonderfully smooth and powerful, and the transmission is super smooth. I like having the option of using first and second gear for cornering and highway merging. -Roger Johnson, Mill Creek, Wash.

    I love everything about this SUV and actually can’t wait to get behind the wheel and drive. It’s simply that much fun. The CVT is so creamy smooth and quick; it has spoiled me into never wanting to drive a conventional automatic again. Coupled with 245 hp, the surge of power is a joy. Handling is tight, the ride is firm and it feels more like a sports sedan than an SUV. The interior may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I like the unconventional colors and applaud Nissan for taking the risk. I tested all the main competitors like the 4Runner, Envoy, XC90 and Pilot, but the character and value of the Murano won over my dollar. -Bob Jones, Painted Post, N.Y.



    Base: $28,739
    As tested (includes $540 delivery): $30,238
    Owners paid; average: $27,001 to $36,064; $32,238

    Unibody four-door sport/utility vehicle

    Wheelbase (in): 111.2
    Track (in): 64.2 front, 64.0 rear
    Length/width/height (in): 187.6/74.0/66.5
    Curb weight/GVWR (lbs): 3801/4858

    Fuel (gal): 21.7
    Cargo (cu-ft): 32.6
    Towing (lbs): 3500

    Front-transverse 3.5-liter/213.5-cid dohc V6
    Horsepower: 245 @ 5800 rpm
    Torque (lb-ft): 246 @ 4400 rpm

    Compression ratio: 10.3:1
    Fuel requirement: 87 octane

    Front-wheel drive
    Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
    Final drive ratio: 5.173:1

    Front: Struts with coil springs, gas-charged
    shock absorbers and antiroll bar
    Rear: Multilink with coil springs, gas-charged
    shock absorbers and antiroll bar

    Discs front and rear, ABS
    Aluminum 235/65R-18
    Goodyear Eagle LS

    0-60 mph: 8.00 sec
    0-100 km/h (62.1 mph): 8.53 sec
    0-quarter-mile: 16.25 sec @ 87.4 mph

    20-40 mph (gear n/a): 2.9 sec
    40-60 mph (gear n/a): 3.7 sec
    60-80 mph (gear n/a): 5.7 sec

    60 mph-0: 127 ft

    490-foot slalom: 41.5 mph
    Lateral acceleration (200-foot skidpad): 0.76 g

    Idle: 39
    Full throttle: 72
    Steady 60 mph: 60

    EPA combined: 21.98 mpg
    AW overall: 15.94 mpg

    $18,064 after 39-month lease, 59.74-percent of new vehicle price

  2. Gutterflower

    Gutterflower Guest

    Don't like them. The MORONo is the ugliest thing on the road.
  3. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

    Oct 26, 2000
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    Island of Electronicus
  4. sduquette

    sduquette Guest

    Might be the ugliest thing on the road, but I sure get a ton of compliments

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