When examining a cross-section of the used crossover sport-utility vehicle market, it is immediately clear that in most cases, automakers are reluctant to take styling risks with this still new class of vehicle. While some luxury car companies may make an effort to give their crossovers a unique appearance, by and large the bread and butter crossovers produced by the major manufacturers such as Ford, Toyota and Honda find themselves occupying the blander side of the styling chart. Whether this is done in order to avoid offending families looking to upgrade from inoffensive, plain minivans or whether it is the unavoidable result of combining vans and SUV's with an eye towards maximizing function over form remains unclear. However, it is undeniable that options for crossover buyers are much more limited stylistically when compared to sedans in the same price range, a throwback to the days when station wagons were merely extended wheelbase sedans with an ungainly cargo compartment grafted onto the rear.
Of course, with every rule there are exceptions, and once again Nissan has stepped up to the plate in order to provide a dash of flavor into an otherwise vanilla segment of the industry. In 2003, Nissan decided to augment their sport-utility offerings with a sedan-based crossover vehicle. Nissan has never been afraid of making a bold statement when it comes to styling, and the look of the 2003 - 2007 Nissan Murano certainly continues this forward-thinking trend. With a big, toothy grille and angular headlights, the Murano cuts an imposing figure across a field of somewhat bland-looking crossovers. Positioned as a mid-size vehicle, the Murano immediately found its intended audience, and it provided an excellent alternative to the pedestrian looks of the otherwise competent Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. All-wheel drive, a powerful engine and a unique technologies help to round out the Murano's overall package.
The Nissan Murano is not intended to infringe on the serious off-roading customer base that the Pathfinder and Xterra have managed to build for the company, but rather provide an option for families who are interested in moving up to a larger but not unwieldy vehicle. This article takes a look at the best used Nissan crossover available, the first generation Murano, and highlights not only its excellent interior room but its often overlooked performance characteristics.
2003 - 2007 Nissan Murano
The 2003 - 2007 Nissan Murano represents the first crossover SUV ever designed by the Japanese automaker. Nissan took the same basic platform used for the Altima sedan and added standard all-wheel drive and a continuously-variable transmission, a rarity for a crossover vehicle at the time of its release. Powering the Murano is a 245 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine which provides plenty of grunt to get the crossover moving quickly both from a stop and in highway passing situations. The company's goal was to provide a driving experience that was more akin to a sedan than a truck, and they have succeeded admirably. The Murano bests several European SUV's in terms of not only handling prowess but also acceleration, all while delivering 20 miles per gallon in stop and go traffic and 24 miles per gallon in highway cruising.
Passenger room in the 2007 Murano is off the charts. This is in part due to Nissan's decision to only offer seating for five instead of seven, adding copious amounts of leg and shoulder space that will be appreciated by anyone sitting in the second row accommodations. These same seats fold into the floor in order to provide 81 cubic feet of cargo space, and loading is made easy thanks to the low rear deck height. Luxury equipment is light for the Murano, but buyers can choose a moon roof, navigation system and a stereo upgrade in order to add additional comfort and convenience to the vehicle.
Its similar appearance to the more expensive Infiniti FX certainly helps improve the standing of the Nissan in the eyes of buyers. If drivers can stomach the love it or hate it exterior design, the 2003 - 2007 Nissan Murano is worth a look when shopping for a used crossover vehicle.