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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Nissan Murano Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Nissan Murano Overview

Dressed for Success

Nissan launched the Murano last year, opening the door to an entirely new type of SUV known as the crossover. Crossovers generally employ a car chassis as the basis for their construction and therefore tend to handle better than truck-based SUVs. In the case of the Murano, its FF-L front-drive platform is shared with another popular Nissan model, one renowned for its powerful sport sedan performance: the Altima. It probably doesn't hurt sales that the Murano also bears more than just a passing resemblance to the hot Infiniti FX45.

Beyond its dynamic styling, the Murano has been given a number of mechanical and structural advances that make it much more car-like both in the way it handles and survives accidents. Instead of a truck based body-on-frame design, the Murano's body and floor pan are welded together to form a single shell, a design known as a unit body. This design offers three big advantages; first, it allows the engineers to build in crumple zones that absorb impact energy and direct it away from the passenger compartment; secondly, it allows for the placement of an independent rear suspension, which greatly improves the way the vehicle rides and corners and lastly, it allows Nissan to build a much tighter vehicle, immune to flexing and bending that can lead to annoying rattles inside the vehicle. The bottom line is that the Murano delivers one of the smoothest, most controlled rides of any vehicle in its class, and its advanced construction techniques are the reason why.

If you love the way the Murano looks sitting in your driveway, then you are going to go gaga over the way it moves down the freeway. Nissan has equipped every Murano with its powerhouse 245-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine and coupled it to an all-new continuously variable transmission (CVT). The result of this pairing is an acceleration curve unlike anything we've experienced in an SUV. Press the gas pedal to the floor, and the Murano launches forward like a rocket leaving the launch pad. There are no shift points, no lurching movement as the transmission changes gears, just the impression of one continuous gear that can handle any speed between 10 to 100 mph. A CVT is more efficient than a conventional transmission and uses less moving parts. It operates by using two pulley-like wheels with a single belt running back and forth between them. This design allows the engine to deliver its peak torque at almost all speeds. It can be an odd sensation when you first experience it, but you'll quickly grow to appreciate both the power and smoothness this type of transmission delivers.

The Murano does more than just go fast in a straight line; it can actually take curves and perform emergency maneuvers with astonishing balance. You can thank the independent rear suspension, as well as the little electronic assists such as the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and the standard traction control. The Murano even offers a system that monitors the tire pressure at all times and will alert you should one or more of the tires drop below a safe level. The Murano is pulled by its front wheels but offers the option of an all-wheel drive model. SE models receive sportier suspension, with heavy-duty shocks and struts and firmer spring settings.

The real beauty of the Murano is that all of its technology works invisibly, leaving you to enjoy the more visual and tactile pleasure the Murano has to offer. Inside, you'll find an inviting interior with soft touch plastics and handsome seat and door coverings. The expansive dash features two deep storage trays; perfect for holding maps, fast food and whatever else you toss up on the dash during long road trips. The instruments are housed in a floating pod that rests atop the steering column. The instrument faces are painted in a bright orange/yellow color with black numbering; the design is bold, but easy to read. To your right are the radio and heating controls, both of which display their functions on a small LCD view screen recessed deep in the center of the dash. Though the lighting on the view screen is bright, you may experience some washout when direct sunlight reaches the screen. There are redundant controls on the steering wheel and on SE models, a dash-mounted switch to adjust the headlight angle. Driver visibility is good in all directions except for over the rear quarter panels, which swoop up creating a large blind spot. Rear seat passengers will find they have excellent head and legroom and that their seats can be reclined for those obligatory long road trip naps.

All Muranos come standard with dual front side-impact airbags and front and rear side head airbag curtains. Options include electrically-adjustable pedals, leather interior, onboard navigation, Bose audio and DVD entertainment system.

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