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December 30, 2013

Ladies: The 2014 Nissan Murano Crossover is a Star!

2014_nissan_murano_06-front_beautyBy Sue Mead

Do you care about the name of your car? The story goes that the Ford Probe reminded some women of a female medical exam; it wasn’t a long-lasting run of a car moniker, whatever the reason! What we’ve learned since then is that most women actually care more about the safety, dependability and technology in their vehicle than even the brand—or its name.

The Nissan Murano has a great name, as it comes from a celebrated city in Italy that produces famous, beautifully-colored glass and Murano rolls off the tongue whether you’re Italian or American. It has been celebrated as a crossover vehicle because it is an attractively-designed five-passenger ‘cute ute’ that gained star power for its looks with a curvaceous and windswept profile, when it was first unveiled at the New York Auto Show in 2002. When it went on sale as a 2003 model, it became a driving darling, due to its four-wheel independent suspension (this means not trucky!) that give it class-leading ride and handling; plus it has smartly-crafted cargo-carrying ability. It was revamped in 2009 and has had another slight make-over since to add more improvements. For 2014, it has been updated and refreshed.

2014_nissan_murano_07-backviewThe 2014 Nissan Murano comes with modern-day technology features, a new interior/exterior color combination and the same comfortable, commuter-friendly ride as in last year’s model. The midsized crossover utility vehicle (CUV) is more of a sweet bauble than a posh crystal, but it shares this in common with the Italian art: depending on the angle from which you view it, you’ll likely see a few surprises. It is priced starting at $28, 440. A four-seater Murano Cross Cabriolet is a luxury-laden convertible version, with a double-lined power soft top; it comes in all-wheel drive (AWD) only and starts at $41, 995.

2014_nissan_murano_34-wheels_and_tiresOn the outside, one of Murano’s surprise-and-delight elements is the availability of high-end features like bi-xenon projector style headlamps, fog lights on higher-end models and panoramic glass on the roof. Eighteen-inch wheels and tires sit underneath big wheel wells that, from a distance, make the vehicle look beefier than it is – that doesn’t mean it’s small close up, rather it’s just another interesting visual element; 20-inch wheels come with the top trim.

Overall, Murano’s shape is a curvy wedge with relatively long front and rear overhangs, with aerodynamic, steep rakes that punctuate the front windshield and rear hatch; at the same time, rounded design cues create an attractive blend of eye-appealing shapes. Chrome accents the horizontally slatted grille and door handles. Roof rails, running boards and a power liftgate, sunroof and second-row moonroof are all available as options.

2014_nissan_murano_19-front_seatInside this four-door crossover is a cabin that looks and feels expansive thanks to its convex design and wide, wraparound components like the metal-accented center stack and broad center console. The shifter is placed low but within easy reach next to the driver, while a padded storage unit is designed to hold multiple gadgets. Storage is generous, including a big glovebox, pockets for cellphones and a cargo area that accommodates enough stuff for a family weekend away, as well as large and wide items. For 2014, a graphite interior is now available with Tinted Bronze exterior paint, in addition to the black interior.

Murano’s standard upholstery is a comfortable, premium fabric, while upmarket models get double-stitched leather. Also on higher-end Muranos are power driver and front passenger seats, as well as a driver’s memory function for seats, steering wheel and mirror settings.

2014_nissan_murano_39-consoleMurano gets a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/aux stereo, push-button start, automatic door locks and dual-zone climate control. A 7-inch color screen with navigation and other infotainment features is available.

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 260 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. of torque.  The transmission is an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) and Muranos can be ordered either with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The CUV’s combined fuel economy is around 20 mpg for both all-wheel and front-wheel drive versions; city/highway numbers are 18/23 and 18/24 for the two drivetrains. This allows you to travel approximately 500 miles between fill-ups.

2014_nissan_murano_02-sideviewWe drove the Murano on a route through southern California on bustling freeways and along smaller roadways, as well. Although this crossover casts a midsized footprint it feels bigger once inside, with a roomy, open feel and good ergonomics for motoring. Its engine has some brawn and its CVT transmission is well-suited to help it move quickly when needed; it is decidedly non-trucky, maneuvers with ease and has strong brakes for stopping power. Our only complaint is the small glass at the back end limits visibility rearward when driving.

Four-wheel independent suspension with all-aluminum components helps to give this family car its surprisingly sprightly feel on the road. Four-wheel ABD with EBD is standard, as are traction and vehicle dynamic control systems. Six airbags are standard on all Muranos, which have a 5-Star safety rating and have optional active safety systems, including blind spot warning, moving object detection, and lane departure warning.

2014_nissan_murano_36-sunroofThe 2014 Nissan Murano is available in eight models: S, SV, SL, and LE trim lines with either 2WD or AWD for each.

Murano S models (starting at $28.440; AWD starts at $30,230) have 18-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlights and LED taillights, 6-way manual driver's and 4-way manual passenger's seats, manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry, 6-speaker audio system, Push Button Start and rear privacy glass.

Murano SV (starting at $31,530; $33,130 with AWD) adds roof rails, halogen fog lights, automatic on/off headlights, 8-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support, 4-way power front passenger seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio switches, Bluetooth, a 7.0-inch color monitor, iPod interface, RearView Monitor, Vehicle Security System, VTR jack, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and HomeLink Universal garage door opener.

2014_nissan_murano_frontpassengersideviewMurano SL (starting at $35,390; AWD at $36,990) models add leather seats, heated front seats, driver's seat and outside mirror position memory, 60/40 fold-flat rear seat back with power return, power moonroof with one-touch open/close, auto reverse, sliding shade and privacy glass, power liftgate with hatch closure assist, Bose audio system with 11 speakers, body-color front and rear lower fascias, rain-sensing front wipers and heated outside mirrors.

Murano LE ($37,880; AWD at $39,480) models add 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, roof rails with silver accents, HID bi-functional xenon headlights, heated rear seats, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, heated steering wheel, interior wood-tone trim and steering wheel position memory.




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