The Murano mid-sized SUV Crossover has been a winner for Nissan since it was first introduced in 2004 and continues to go from strength to strength with a range of improvements this year to performance and body styling. Its popularity is a combination of its bold styling, (even bolder this year with a toothy grin in its grille), its plush interior and steady handling and performance which keep the families coming back for more. The Murano has its priorities clearly set and does not pretend to be an offroad vehicle despite its AWD option, not even bothering to offer a low-range gear.
2009 Nissan Murano Performance
All three models of the Murano for 2009 are based on Nissan's new D-platform which formed the base of the Altima last year and features improved rigidity and NVH ratings. The engine powering all of the Muranos this year is the 3.5-liter V6 which has been tweaked to add an extra 25hp and 4lb-ft of torque to 265hp and 248lb-ft.
A continuously variable transmission (CVT) with torque converter is standard and give an immaculately smooth ride with none of the gear hunting that goes on in so many of the automatic transmissions these days. Front-wheel and all-wheel drive are optional in the two base models, but AWD is standard in the LE model.
Handling in the 2009 Murano is smooth and comfortable, with minimal body roll around corners and soft enough suspension that the road bumps are ironed out pretty well. The 18-inch standard wheels on the S and SL do not create undue roughness, although the 20-inch wheels of the LE do make for a firmer ride. Acceleration is improved by the CVT which quickens response and gives even power even in uphill overtaking manoeuvres. Speed-sensitive power steering firms the steering at higher speeds to give more sporty and responsive handling.
Fuel economy is pretty much on par with other mid-sized SUVs at 16/21mpg city/highway. The Murano has maximum towing capacity of 3500lb.
2009 Nissan Murano Interior and Features
Thankfully in its redesign Nissan has resisted the temptation to extend the Murano's chassis - sticking with five comfortable seats rather than squashing in a third row that compromises the comfort all-round clearly defines the Murano as mid-sized SUV that doesn't pretend to be a large one.
Instead they have concentrated on upgrading the interior, giving the S and SL more padded surfaces, and aluminium trim for a luxury feel. The S trim features push button ignition, a six-CD changer stereo system and dual-zone climate control. The SL gives 8-way powered driver's seat, power return rear seats from the reclining position, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The top-of-the-range LE adds leather seats, wood trim, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth hands free phoning, HomeLink remote and Intelligent keyless entry. There are also a host of other options like the navigation system with 7'? screen and 9.3 GB memory (for audio as well) and XM Nav Traffic live traffic updates, rear seat DVD entertainment system, 11-speaker Bose stereo and RearView Monitor.
Adding to the family-friendly nature of the Murano are the side step-in aids to make getting into the SUV easier for kids, easy-fold levered rear seats that don't even need the headrests removed to fold into the floor, plus a cargo organizer in the rear with plenty of storage bins throughout the cabin.
2009 Nissan Murano Safety
Safety is high priority as you would expect in a family vehicle, with six airbags throughout the cabin including dual front, front side and side curtain. Active head restraints are standard which snap forward to prevent whiplash and Vehicle Dynamic Control works with traction control to provide extra safety in emergency situations. In crash testing the 2009 Murano scored a perfect five stars for side impact situations and four stars for front impact and rollover incidents.
- Vehicle Dynamic Control and Traction Control
- Active head restraints
- Six airbags
- Tire pressure monitoring system
- LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children)
- High-strength side door beams
Overall the 2009 Nissan Murano is a great family SUV that has led the pack with the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander for several years now. It's perfect combination of strong performance, distinctive outer styling and plush interior with all the features families need give it an edge over the competition. With the massive move away from SUVs to more fuel economical and cheaper family cars, many of the lower-grade SUVs will drop off quickly, but the stayers like the Nissan Murano will not give up without a fight.