The 2011 Nissan Murano displays styling, interior workmanship and power that place it in a league above rivals such as the Mazda CX-7 or Toyota Highlander. In fact, many owners consider the Murano to be on par with such high-end crossovers as the Acura RDX and Lexus RX350. The Murano's roomy cabin is more than adequate for four adults, though the rear cargo bay is somewhat small, and the upward bent of the rear quarter windows creates a rather noticeable blind spot.

The Murano's sleek styling and powerful V6 engine are two of its strongest selling points, along with its available all-wheel drive and long list of decadent luxury features. Sporty handling is another of the Murano's strengths, and it doesn't come at the expense of a smooth, comfortable ride. Nissan's continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) performs flawlessly and is one of the best CVTs on the market.

What We Like

Strong V6 engine; luxurious interior in SL and LE trims; smooth operating CVT; contemporary styling; smooth ride

What We Don't

Not terribly fuel efficient; no third-row seat option; 18- and 20-inch tires expensive to replace; no manual shift mode on the CVT; rear blind spot

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2011 Nissan Murano is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, producing 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. There is only one transmission choice, a CVT. Fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive Murano is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 18 miles per gallon city/23 mpg hwy; the all-wheel-drive version attains the same 18 mpg city/23 mpg hwy rating.

Standard Features & Options

The Murano is available in four trim levels -- S, SV, SL and LE. Although the S trim is the entry-level model, it is by no means Spartan.

Standard equipment for the Murano S includes Intelligent Key keyless entry with push-button start, an AM/FM stereo with 6-disc CD changer and auxiliary input jack, tilt/telescopic steering column, 18-in wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control and power operations of the windows, mirrors and door locks. Standard safety features include Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with traction control, Brake Assist and front side and side curtain airbags.

The SV adds SV, a dual panel moonroof, power front seats (8-way driver's, 4-way passenger), automatic headlamps, 7-in LCD display screen, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth and a USB port for iPod integration.

The SL adds rain-sensing wipers, roof rails, security system, power return rear seat backs, power rear lift gate, heated outside mirrors, heated steering wheel, leather seats, heated front seats, fog lights and 11-speaker Bose audio system.

The luxurious LE brings 20-in wheels, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, heated rear seats, HID headlights and interior wood trim.

Options for the Murano include all-wheel drive, rear-seat entertainment system and voice-activated navigation with 7-in touchscreen monitor, XM NavTraffic and NavWeather, 9.3-gigabyte hard-drive storage and Bluetooth streaming audio.

Pricing

As the 2011 Nissan Murano holds better-than-average resale values, you may have to do some bargaining to get a good deal on a nice, low-mileage model. You can likely get a lower mileage or better optioned Mazda CX-7 or Ford Edge for the same money. To get an idea of the Murano's price range, we suggest using the used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see which models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

There are currently no recalls for the 2011 Nissan Murano listed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The Murano boasts good scores in NHTSA crash tests, earning four out of five stars in the front-end and roof-strength crash test, and five stars in the side-impact test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gives the Murano its highest ratings in the offset front-end and side-impact crash tests but only a moderate rating in the roof-strength test.

The 2011 Murano entered service backed by a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. If you purchase your Murano through Nissan's certified pre-owned (CPO) program, the vehicle not only goes through an extensive 150-point check, it comes with an extended factory warranty of seven years/100,000 miles from the original date the vehicle entered service, as well. Other advantages of the program include a free CARFAX report, 24-hour roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and towing benefit and a 3-month free trial subscription to SiriusXM Satellite radio. To qualify for the Nissan CPO program, vehicles typically are no older than five years and must have less than 60,000 miles.

Other Cars to Consider

Mazda CX-7 -- The CX-7 has the same sporty attitude as the Murano but offers a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The CX-7 costs less but doesn't offer as many luxury features or hold its value as well. 

Ford Edge -- The Edge offers more horsepower and better fuel economy than the Murano, as well as many of the same high-end features. But some of the audio and infotainment systems can be finicky, and the Edge doesn't hold its value as well.

Toyota Highlander -- The Highlander can be equipped with a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder engines, offers a hybrid model and can accommodate seven passengers. Though not as sporty or luxurious as the Murano, the Highlander offers better resale and fuel economy figures.

AutoTrader's Advice

We think most people will be very happy with the front-wheel-drive SV trim. Those looking for a bit more luxury should aim for a SL, many of which have the optional navigation system onboard. We also think the smaller 18-in tire/wheel combo creates less noise and a smoother ride.

Find Nissan Murano for sale

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Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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