When the original Nissan Murano debuted, its heavily rounded form was different enough that many folks found the design a little off-putting. A decade later, the market has evolved, and the 2013 Nissan Murano no longer looks so avant-garde. But there's more to the Murano than just styling, and it remains a solid choice for a midsize crossover SUV.
The Murano still offers the same strengths that eventually won over both reviewers and consumers. These include a gutsy 3.5-liter V6, one of the best continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVT) in the business and a sport-tuned suspension that makes this one of the more engaging crossovers on the market. The interior also remains a handsome and comfortable space that offers the latest in technology, with Moving Object Detection and blind-spot/lane-departure warning systems added to the amenities lineup this year. As far as negatives go, there are significant rear blind spots, and cargo room is mediocre.
The 2013 Nissan Murano is available in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and LE.
The entry-level S comes well-equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, variable intermittent wipers, deep-tinted rear privacy glass, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a reclining 60/40-split rear seat, a 7-inch monochrome screen, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio input jack.
The SV adds automatic headlights, foglights, roof rack side rails, heated power front seats (eight-way driver and four-way passenger), a 7-inch color display, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, a universal garage door opener, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth and an upgraded audio system with satellite radio and iPod integration.
Stepping up to the SL trim gets you rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, power-return rear seats, heated front seats, driver seat memory, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a nine-speaker Bose premium audio system. The LE trim adds 20-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, heated rear seats, a heated and power tilt-and-telescoping steering column and wood interior trim.
Optional on SV models is a Value package that bundles the power liftgate and Bose audio system plus voice controls, Bluetooth audio connectivity and a navigation system. A Navigation package offered for the SL includes those extra features plus blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and rear cross-patch detection. The Platinum Edition option for LE models is similar but includes exclusive 20-inch alloy wheels and exterior paint color.
These two trim levels are also offered with a rear-seat entertainment system with twin headrest-mounted displays.
The Murano's passenger cabin may not be as attention-getting as its exterior styling but it's an attractive place nonetheless. The pleasing aesthetics are enhanced by high-quality materials as well as gauges and controls that substitute trendy trying-too-hard interior design for a much simpler user interface. Even the in-car technology like the navigation system and iPod integration operates quite intuitively.
As far as passengers are concerned, even rear-seat occupants have a generous amount of head- and legroom, not to mention the added comfort that comes from the reclining rear seatbacks. In the cargo hold, the Murano offers 31.6 cubic feet with both sections of those 60/40-split seatbacks up and 64 cubic feet of room with them folded down, numbers that are respectable, though less generous than you'll find in other crossovers.
The 2013 Nissan Murano is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. This engine is mated to a CVT, with the choice of standard front-wheel drive or an available all-wheel-drive system. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 18/23/20 with all-wheel drive.
The 2013 Nissan Murano's well-tuned suspension and steering deliver agile handling that's among the best in the category. Ride quality is quite decent, at least on models without the available 20-inch wheels. Complementing this setup is the combination of the strong 3.5-liter V6 and smooth CVT. Unlike other engines fitted with CVT automatics, the Murano's powertrain performs as well as any traditional automatic while helping to boost fuel efficiency.
All 2013 Nissan Murano models feature standard antilock brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, front-seat side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, an all-wheel-drive Murano with 18-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet: an average performance for this class.
In government crash testing, the Murano received an overall rating of four stars (out of a possible five), with four stars for overall front impact protection and five stars for side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Murano its highest rating of "Good" in both the frontal-offset and side crash tests.
The 2013 Nissan Murano receives a few new safety features that include lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection and rear cross-path detection.