Thursday, August 20, 2015

Nissan's Murano stands out with panache, perks

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­OK, this is a bit strange, but stick with me.

I recently reviewed a 2015 Nissan Pathfinder sport-utility vehicle, and this time around, I’m talking about my week in the 2015 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD sport-ute.

Despite having the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 260 horsepower and being priced fairly close together ($40,875 for the Pathfinder SL 4X4 and $43,955 for the Murano), the Murano seemed incredibly different from the Pathfinder.

Yes, I get it.  The Pathfinder and Murano are two distinct beasts.  But this Murano just felt so much more … so much more … SUBSTANTIAL.  Higher up on the food chain. A prime cut of filet on the steak menu.  Playing the big room instead of the lounge.

Know what I mean?

Maybe not, but after deep meditation and self-analysis, I came to the conclusion that I was swept up in the various changes and enhancements stuffed into the Murano, with 2015 marking the model’s third-generation debut.

Lots to talk about there.

Let’s start with the exterior design.  Nissan touts the “V-Motion front end, signature lighting and floating roofline.”  This is all well and good if you’re having drinks with a car designer and need to keep the conversation flowing, but for me, I loved the Stealth fighter angles and sculpted chops of the Murano’s body.

It might not register on the radar, but my tester drew numerous admiring glances from fellow motorists who might have been wise to keep their eyes on the road.  Still, I couldn’t fault their eyes for style.

Nissan must have blown the budget on consultants.  Hence the “NASA-inspired Zero Gravity” front and rear outboard seats.  OK, again, I’m speechless.  But I for one was comfortable, and my volunteer passengers likewise commented on comfort, and luxury.

The tester was packed with a Four Seasons Hotel level of comfort and convenience features.  Heated and cooled front seats, leather everything and a nine-speaker, blow-the-doors-off Bose audio system were particularly pleasing.

Maybe the cut-through-the-wind styling was working on my brain, but I aggressively pushed this Murano into tight spaces and around tight corners.  Every time, the Murano’s rock-solid stance put a smile on my face.

Plentiful safety features were a comfort.   The Murano can be had with four cameras and three radar sensors.  If you collide with something with all that, you really don’t have a case and should settle out of court.  Properly set, the Murano is ever on guard for blind spot intruders, panic-braking freeway fools and cruise control-disrupting lane changers.

Fuel mileage is pretty fair at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

Bottom line: I still like the Pathfinder as a long road trip warrior, but if I wanted to spend my dough on an attention-grabbing, sporty-looking SUV that looks right at home parked at the country club or tearing around a sharp corner in the Sierra Nevada foothills, I’d opt for the Murano.

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