The following column is by Ron Moorhead. Mark Maynard is on assignment this week.
Step back and take a look at the redesigned and reengineered 2015 Nissan Murano. It is a design showcase inside and out.
The striking zigs, curves, arcs and angles make a statement of not just creativity but also the precision of modern manufacturing.
This, the third generation, Murano becomes more aerodynamic with its flowing curves, yet it is muscular with strong presence at the fenders. The combination conveys beauty with strength.
Of the vehicles available on the showroom today, crossovers — a car-based utility vehicle — are growing in popularity. The midsize, five-passenger Murano offers comfortable room for passengers and cargo without the bulk of a truck-based SUV.
The Murano’s stylish stance begins focuses attention with Nissan’s V-motion front end. It combines an updated adaptation of the Nissan grille, anchored by the boomerang-design headlights.
Nissan designers worked to form a shape that is attractive while lowering wind resistance. The goal to slip easily through the air with a low 0.31 drag coefficient of drag improves fuel efficiency and reduces wind noise in the cabin.
To aid in aerodynamics, active grille shutters improve air flow into the engine compartment or over the vehicle depending on driving conditions. With the 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and continuously variable Xtronic transmission, the Murano has fuel economy ratings of 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway (on regular unleaded fuel) for front-wheel and four-wheel drive models.
The interior is what Nissan calls a “social lounge” environment. A blend of sweeping curves and multilevel trim pieces help create an inviting atmosphere. There is a plethora of features within the infotainment system to keep occupants entertained, informed and in control of their environment.
Nissan has expanded its NASA-inspired zero gravity seats to include the rear window seats. According to Nissan, this seat design provides support where needed to reduce fatigue and also enhances comfort on longer drives.
From the driver’s seat the thinner and redesigned windshield pillars increase visibility while the “floating” roof design has lifted the rear D pillars to over-the-shoulder views.
All models are available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $30,445, including the $885 freight charge from Canton, Miss.; AWD adds $1,600. Standard equipment includes remote keyless entry with push-button ignition, rearview camera, a six-speaker audio system with streaming Bluetooth audio and phone connection, Nissan Connect with mobile apps, seven air bags with dynamic stability and traction controls.
The top-line Platinum with AWD starts at $41,485.
In a recent media drive of the new model, I found performance to be ample to move the nearly 4,000-pound Murano — a significant accomplishment for 28 mpg highway.
The new Xtronic transmission removes most of the motorboating effect of acceleration catching up with throttle input. Nissan’s D-step Logic technology provides the feeling of a traditional gear change while retaining the fuel-saving benefits attributed to CVTs.
Functionality is imperative to the success of a utility vehicle, but it is design that captures our attention and creates an emotional connection with the vehicle. Murano has always been distinctive for its design. But Nissan now leads the segment with styling that implies prestige and refinement.
Ron Moorhead is an auto writer based in Willits, California. Send email to email@example.com.