When it first debuted about a decade ago, the Nissan Murano caught midsize crossover SUV shoppers' attention with its avant-garde styling and then won them over with its gutsy V6 engine, athletic handling and comfortable cabin. These days, the model's visual impact isn't quite as strong, but those other core attributes are still there to help make the 2014 Nissan Murano a solid choice for a crossover.
The Murano's strong V6 is matched to one of the best continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVT) in the business, and the result is both respectable performance and good fuel economy. As before, a sport-tuned suspension makes the Murano one of the more engaging crossovers to drive in this price range. Further, its handsome cabin offers features that are cutting-edge, high-tech and easy to use -- something that can't be said for some of the Nissan's competitors.
The few demerits on the 2014 Nissan Murano include significant rear blind spots (caused by its thick rear pillars) and a little less maximum cargo space than rivals. And of course you'd be wise to check out other V6-powered midsize SUVs and crossovers in this segment. Topping the list is the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is equally comfortable, just as well equipped and available with either diesel or V8 power if the standard six-cylinder isn't to your liking. Other solid picks include the 2014 Ford Edge and 2014 Toyota Venza. Overall, however, the stylish 2014 Nissan Murano remains easy for us to recommend to shoppers wanting a midsize crossover with seating for five.
The 2014 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, rear privacy glass, keyless entry and 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 leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity and an upgraded audio system with satellite radio and iPod integration.
Stepping up to the SL trim gets you the above plus rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, power-return rear seats, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, driver seat memory, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a nine-speaker Bose premium audio system with digital music storage. The LE trim adds 20-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, heated rear seats, a 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-path detection. The Platinum Edition option for LE models is similar but includes exclusive 20-inch alloy wheels and exterior paint color.
The SL and LE are also offered with a rear-seat entertainment system with twin headrest-mounted displays.
The Murano's cabin is more handsome than flashy and is fitted with high-quality materials throughout. Even in the upper trim levels loaded with high-tech features, the gauges and controls are refreshingly simple, something increasingly rare in this era where some vehicle designs try too hard to look and feel futuristic. Even the navigation and iPod integration systems operate 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 the seats up and 64 cubic feet of room with them folded down. Those numbers are respectable, though not quite as much as you'll find in other crossovers.
The 2014 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 (in place of a conventional automatic transmission), with a choice of standard front-wheel drive or an available all-wheel-drive system. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway) with front-wheel drive. Muranos with all-wheel drive are also rated 20 mpg combined but earn 1 mpg less on the highway.
Although some CVTs feel like they're sapping power, the Murano's responsive V6/CVT combo performs as well as any six-cylinder engine paired with a conventional automatic transmission while also boosting the crossover's fuel efficiency. Complementing this is a relatively sporty suspension and steering tuning that provides agile handling that's among the best of any midsize crossover in this price range. Ride quality is fairly smooth and comfortable, too, though you'll want to stay away from the available 20-inch wheels if comfort is top priority.
All 2014 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. All but the S trim level come standard with a rearview camera. Blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic detection are optional for the SL and LE.
In Edmunds brake testing, an all-wheel-drive Murano with 18-inch wheels and tires 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 the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and side crash tests, but just a rating of "Marginal" (the second lowest of four) in the roof strength test. The Murano's seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
For 2014, the Nissan Murano is essentially unchanged.