If you’re looking for a midsize SUV and don’t want the heft of a model that comes with 3-row seating, you’ll probably notice your choices are fairly limited. Fortunately, there are a few excellent 2-row midsize models worth adding to your shopping list, including the 2016 Nissan Murano and the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee. But which one is better? And which one should you choose? To help you find out, we’ve created a close comparison of the Murano and the Grand Cherokee, but first let’s see what’s new with both models for the latest model year.
2016 Nissan Murano
Following a full redesign last year, the Murano is almost completely unchanged for 2016, save for a newly standard USB port and two additional speakers in the optional Bose sound system. See all 2016 Nissan Murano models available near you
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Grand Cherokee makes several changes this year, including a new shift lever, electronically assisted power steering, a new High Altitude options package and standard automatic start/stop technology to improve gas mileage in V6 models. See all 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee models available near you
In reliability ratings from experts at J.D. Power, the Murano earned a high rating that signifies best-in-class reliability. Although J.D. Power has not yet rated the Grand Cherokee, it’s worth noting that the firm’s Vehicle Dependability Study, which gives reliability ratings by brand, places Jeep near the bottom, though it shares that position with Nissan. Nonetheless, absent further ratings we think the Murano will offer better reliability than the Grand Cherokee.
As for warranty coverage, the two models are identical: Both offer 3 years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection, along with 5 years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage.
The Murano offers only one engine: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque mated to a fuel-saving continuously variable automatic transmission. It returns 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway regardless of whether you choose front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Meanwhile, the Grand Cherokee has four engine options. Most Grand Cherokees come with the brand’s 295-hp 3.6-liter V6, which offers up to 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy. Drivers looking to save fuel might opt for the SUV’s 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, which touts 240 hp and up to 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy. Meanwhile, those looking for more performance will choose either the 360-hp 5.7-liter V8 (with up to 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy) or the SRT8 model’s 475-hp 6.4-liter V8, which touts an abysmal 13 mpg city/19 mpg hwy.
The result? Although the Grand Cherokee’s available diesel engine ekes out slightly better gas mileage than the Murano’s standard V6, it’s a lot more expensive to buy, so if you want fuel economy, you’ll probably want to go with the Murano. It’s worth noting, however, that the Grand Cherokee offers much better performance and far more hp than the Murano does.
Although the Murano has not been fully crash-tested by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, early tests — five stars in the side-impact test and four stars in the rollover assessment — offer promising signs. The Grand Cherokee, meanwhile, earned a perfect 5-star overall score. The Murano earned a Top Safety Pick+ score from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), while the Grand Cherokee fell short due to a mediocre Marginal rating on the firm’s small-overlap front crash test.
As for safety features, both the Murano and the Grand Cherokee offer just about everything you might expect, including rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system and forward-collision warning with automatic braking. But the Murano’s safety technologies are slightly more impressive, as it touts an available 360-degree camera system and a standard backup camera (compared to the Grand Cherokee’s optional unit). That, combined with its higher IIHS safety rating, gives the Murano the safety nod over the Jeep.
When it comes to technology, both the Grand Cherokee and the Murano offer an impressive list of equipment. It’s worth noting, however, that the Jeep boasts our favorite infotainment system, Chrysler’s excellent Uconnect system, which gives it a slight advantage. It also boasts an available 19-speaker stereo system (to the Murano’s available 11-speaker unit), a rear-seat entertainment system with a Blu-ray player and a series of high-performance gadgets in the upscale SRT model — none of which the Murano offers.
The result: Remove safety features from the technology equation, and the Grand Cherokee holds a gadget advantage over its Nissan rival.
Although the Murano and Grand Cherokee take different approaches to the midsize 2-row crossover, it’s worth noting that the two models offer very similar pricing: The Jeep starts at $31,000 with shipping, while the Nissan is $30,700. High-end versions of the Grand Cherokee trump upscale Murano models, however, in both price and luxury feel.
So which one offers a better value? To us, that would be the Murano, which boasts better gas mileage, reliability, safety equipment and crash-test scores, all for about the same price.
Although the 2016 Nissan Murano and the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee are both crossovers with 2-row seating and similar price tags, the two models offer very different philosophies. The Murano feels more carlike, boasts standard front-wheel drive (to the Grand Cherokee’s rear-wheel drive) and has just one engine. The Grand Cherokee offers more available luxury, more trims and more powertrain choices. The result: This one is all about what you want. While we think the Murano is the sensible decision, we admit it’s easy to be wooed by the Grand Cherokee’s bolder styling, additional power and better in-cabin materials.