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2018 Nissan Murano: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Nissan Murano, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Nissan Murano Review

As 5-passenger crossover SUVs go, the 2018 Nissan Murano is a definite standout. From its bold and sporty styling to its long list of innovative features, the Murano appeals to those who expect more than just mere transportation from their family-hauling chariot. Some of those features, such as standard voice-activated navigation and an available Bose audio system, are expected. Others, like a separate rear-seat USB port, for example, help set the Murano apart from its competition. Even the base trim offers innovative items, such as NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats specifically designed to alleviate back and leg discomfort on long trips.

Compared to many SUVs, however, the Murano comes up short in off-road capability and overall utility — but that’s OK, given that most Americans use their SUVs in exactly the same way they use a car. And with more SUVs riding like stiff performance sedans, those seeking isolation from the harsh realities of today’s roads may find the 2018 Murano to be exactly what they’re looking for.

What’s New for 2018?

For 2018, every Murano trim now includes NissanConnect with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also standard is automatic emergency braking and intelligent forward-collision warning. The SV trim gains blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, while a new SV Premium package offers more driver-assist safety features. SL and Platinum trims receive more standard features, and a new Midnight Edition package is offered on the SL. See the 2018 Nissan Murano models for sale near you

What We Like

Dramatic styling; lots of high-tech options; luxurious interior; good fuel economy; strong V6 engine

What We Don’t

Not as fun to drive as the first- and second-generation Muranos; big blind spot in the rear-quarter panel; high price with options added

How Much?

$31,525-$45,000

Fuel Economy

The 2018 Murano is powered by Nissan’s venerable 3.5-liter V6 engine, which produces 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission is a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Murano’s fuel economy at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Those figures remain unchanged on cars equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD).

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Nissan Murano comes in four trims: the S, SV, SL and Platinum. All four are available with either front-wheel drive (FWD) or AWD.

The Murano S ($31,525 FWD, $33,125 AWD) includes a manual tilt-telescopic steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, Nissan Intelligent Key with push-button start, automatic emergency braking, intelligent forward-collision warning, cruise control, power accessories, rear privacy glass, auto-on/off headlights, Zero Gravity seating, a 6-way manual driver’s seat with manual lumbar support, an AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers and an auxiliary input jack, NissanConnect with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and music-streaming capability, SiriusXM radio, a 7-in color display and a rearview monitor.

The Murano SV ($34,825 FWD, $36,425 AWD) adds roof rails, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, remote engine start, an 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar control, a 4-way power passenger seat and HD Radio.

The optional SV Premium package adds a panoramic sunroof, Bose audio, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, intelligent cruise control, intelligent driver alert, an intelligent around-view monitor and 18-in gunmetal alloy wheels.

The Murano SL ($39,225 FWD, $40,825 AWD) brings leather seating, the Bose audio system, heated outside mirrors, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, intelligent cruise control, a motion-activated power liftgate, driver-attention alert, heated front seats and the around-view monitor. Options for the SL include a power panoramic moonroof and the Midnight Edition package.

The Murano Platinum ($42,955 FWD, $44,555 AWD) comes loaded and includes a heated power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, heated rear seats, 20-in alloy wheels, heated and cooled front seats, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof and LED low-beam headlights.

Safety

The Murano comes standard with front, front-side impact and front and rear side-curtain airbags. It also features automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, electronic traction and stability control, hill-start assist and a driver’s-knee airbag. Optional safety equipment includes rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.

In crash tests, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Murano four out of five stars overall, with four stars in the frontal crash test, five in the side-impact test and four in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Murano its best rating of Good in every category, and a Superior in the crash avoidance and mitigation test.

Behind the Wheel

After spending some time behind the wheel of the Nissan Murano, our editors came away with some very strong opinions. Everyone agrees the ride is very quiet, handling is confident but not sporty, and the 3.5-liter V6 is perfectly matched to the CVT transmission. Site editor Brian Moody said, "Nissan has been using CVTs for a while, and the one found in the new Murano is the best version yet. There’s no lurching or constant high revving. Nissan has added shift points that make the Murano’s CVT act like a more traditional automatic transmission under heavy acceleration. Still, some enthusiasts won’t like the CVT no matter what."

We expect most buyers will think the CVT feels just fine, and they’ll definitely appreciate its role in helping the Murano achieve such good gas mileage.

But while our team praised the Murano’s luxurious new feel and improved efficiency, those who prefer a sportier ride were somewhat let down. Enthusiasts may not find the new Murano to be a perfect fit, but we think the vast majority of consumers will appreciate the balance Nissan has struck between good handling and a soft, comfortable ride.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport — The Santa Fe Sport can match the Murano for comfort, features and style, but its base 4-cylinder engine is weak, and the optional turbocharged 4-cylinder isn’t all that much better. The AWD Murano gets much better fuel economy than its Santa Fe Sport counterpart.

2018 Ford Edge — The Edge offers less polarizing styling and a bit more interior room, plus the choice of three powerful engines. Fuel economy is on par with the Murano.

2018 Kia Sorento — The Sorento has a lower base price, a more powerful V6 engine and the option of a third-row seat. It isn’t as modern-looking as the Murano, but it does have a better standard warranty.

Used Lexus RX 350 — For about the same price as a Murano SL or Platinum, you can pick up a nice 2012-2016 Lexus RX 350. Go with a certified pre-owned vehicle and you’ll get a car that’s been thoroughly inspected to Lexus standards and comes with a warranty that lasts 3 years from your date of purchase or until the vehicle reaches 100,000 miles.

Autotrader’s Advice

If you can live without a power driver’s seat, a panoramic sunroof and safety features such as blind spot monitoring, we think the base S model is a great value. Even with AWD, the price still stays right around $33,000. If you can’t live without the aforementioned goodies, go for the Platinum. It’s only about $3,000 more than the SL, and at this price point, the difference in your monthly payment will hardly be noticeable.

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