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2016 Nissan Murano: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader June 2016

After a successful launch last year, the 2016 Nissan Murano returns with no changes of note. The 5-passenger Murano embodies the futuristic look of a radical concept car with an equally futuristic interior, and it includes a long list of features. Some, such as available voice-activated navigation and Bose audio, are expected. Others -- 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.

On the move upmarket, however, the Murano has left a small part of its old self behind. While the original Murano developed a reputation as a sporty and nimble SUV, the 2016 Murano feels a bit heavier and less playful. Then again, with more SUVs riding like stiff performance sedans, those seeking isolation from the harsh realities of today's roads may find the new Murano to be exactly what they're looking for.

What's New for 2016?

There are no major changes to the Murano for this model year.

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?

$30,560-$45,000

Fuel Economy

The 2016 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 2016 Nissan Murano comes in four trims: S, SV, SL and Platinum. All four are available with either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive.

The Murano S ($30,560 FWD; $32,160 AWD) includes a manual tilt-telescopic steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, Nissan Intelligent Key with push-button starting, 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, Bluetooth phone and music-streaming capability, SiriusXM radio, a 7-in color display with NissanConnect mobile apps and a rearview monitor.

An optional Navigation package adds an 8-in touchscreen display, voice-activated navigation and a USB/iPod interface.

The Murano SV ($33,620 FWD; $35,220 AWD) adds the Navigation package, roof rails, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an 8-way power driver's seat with power lumbar control, a 4-way power passenger seat, HD Radio and a USB/iPod interface.

An optional Premium package adds a panoramic sunroof and a 9-speaker Bose audio system.

The Murano SL ($37,950 FWD; $39,550 AWD) brings leather seating, the Bose audio system, heated outside mirrors, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, a power rear lift gate and Nissan's 360-degree Around View Monitor.

The Murano Platinum ($40,000 FWD; $41,600 AWD) comes pretty loaded and includes a heated power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, heated rear seats, 20-in alloy wheels, heated and cooled front seats, and LED low-beam headlights.

Both the SL and Platinum offer the Technology package, which adds adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, collision mitigation and a panoramic sunroof.

Safety

The Murano comes standard with front, front-side impact, and front and rear side-curtain airbags. It also features anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, hill-start assist and a driver's-knee airbag. Optional safety equipment includes rear cross-traffic alert and collision mitigation.

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.

Behind the Wheel

After spending some time behind the wheel of the Murano, our editors came away with some very strong opinions. Everyone agrees that 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 that 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 that Nissan has struck between good handling and a soft, comfortable ride.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 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. Its fuel economy is also rather poor.

2016 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.

2016 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 2012-2015 Lexus RX 350. Go with a certified pre-owned vehicle, and you'll get a car that has 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 forward-collision warning and a blind spot monitoring system, we think the base S model is a great value. Even with AWD, the price still stays right around $35,000.

If you can't live without the aforementioned goodies, go for the Platinum with the Technology package. It's only about $2,000 more than the SL, and at this price point, the difference in your monthly payment will hardly be noticeable.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Nissan Murano: New Car Review - Autotrader