Proving how important the mid-size crossover market is, Nissan is adding some noticeable changes to the Nissan Murano crossover for the 2011 model year. After just two years on the market, the sporty Nissan Murano will receive updates to the exterior, interior and the trim level packaging. More importantly, the drop-top version of the Murano has been rumored for years and it has finally been confirmed for debut later this year.
Earlier in the year, Nissan unveiled an updated look for the European-spec Murano, and now it has confirmed that these same changes will make their way to North America. The bullet-nosed Murano gets a fresh look up front thanks to a new fascia, grille and headlamp treatment. The main visual changes include more pronounced fog light housings for a sportier look, while the grille now features a wider center portion - to better display the Nissan logo - as well as fewer vertical slats. Out back, the only change made to the 2011 Murano are different taillights that give it more of a European look with the clear lenses and LED stop and parking lights. The reverse lights are still located on the liftgate, but the turn signal has been moved to the lower part of the taillight. The final additions for the 2011 Nissan Murano are sportier 18-inch wheel options and a new color - Graphite Blue.
Inside, the Murano gets a few minor design changes including new instrument gauges lined in white rather than red and new colors for the center stack. Another interior change is the addition of a new trim level, the 2011 Murano SV, which will add standard features such as a power driver's seat with lumbar support, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity and a seven-inch color display screen for the RearView Monitor. This new trim level helps it fit in better with other current Nissan products, and it is available both front- and all-wheel drive models leaving the 2011 Murano with a total of eight possible configurations. The luxury-oriented Murano SL will now come with a nine-speaker Bose premium audio system and a heated steering wheel.
"With its contemporary exterior design, 'mobile suite' interior, advanced technology and refined, premium driving feel, Murano stands out as a modern crossover SUV like no other," said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager for the Nissan Division of Nissan North America, Inc. "With the enhancements for 2011, there are even more reasons for consumers to put Murano on the top of their shopping lists."
The biggest upcoming news for the Nissan Murano is the fact that it will be adding a convertible version next year, likely as a 2012 model. The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet will make its debut later this year at the 2010 Los Angeles International Auto Show. It is likely that the four-passenger Murano CrossCabriolet will be available in all of the same trim levels as the standard Murano crossover, and it will likely come with the option of front- or all-wheel drive. Aside from its existence, little is known about the Murano convertible except for the fact that it will be a two-door model. While there have been many convertible SUVs over the years such as the Jeep Wrangler and Isuzu Rodeo, this will be the first factory-built convertible crossover.
One thing not changing for 2011 is the 3.5-liter VQ35DE V-6 which should carry over the same sporty ride as evident in our recent 2010 Nissan Murano road test and review. This engine produces 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque and is paired up with Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). Pricing has yet to be announced for the 2011 Nissan Murano, but the base Murano S should stay pretty close to the current model's starting MSRP of $28,340. It is likely the Murano SL and Murano LE could both move up slightly in price to make room for the new Murano SV trim level.
The updated version of the second-generation Nissan Murano will be in dealership showrooms in October, while the Murano CrossCabriolet will probably go on sale sometime before next summer.