Everything’s bigger in Texas.
That’s why, despite mostly disliking big, hulking sport utility vehicles (SUVs) we happily accepted the opportunity to drive the 2017 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD on a trip from Dallas to Austin and back for IMSA’s recent race at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). This smooth, elegantly styled five-seat SUV sets itself apart from its crowded marketplace with dramatic styling, a near-silent and elegantly-appointed cabin and great ride quality.
Dressed in gorgeous Arctic blue metallic with cashmere interior, the Nissan Murano felt comfortable right from the start, even though that start came late at night in an unfamiliar area. With its excellent navigation system doing the heavy lifting, locating our out-of-the-way hotel just south of Ft Worth was a simply performed maneuver. It was easy getting the driver’s seat set to our liking, pairing the phone and accessing available entertainment without taking eyes off the road. The LED running lights and headlights made the trip even easier, even with a dearth of street lighting.
Nissan’s Murano was redrawn a few years ago and has elegance in its body lines that are lacking in so many other SUVs and crossovers. This is no box on wheels; rather, it has edges, accents and flow lines from front to rear, helped by brightwork accents at the large grille surround, sills and window surrounds. Articulated lights front and rear add to this elegance, as do the twinned, painted and polished 20-inch wheels mounted with 235/55R tires.
The running gear for this 2017 Murano Platinum AWD is Nissan’s all-purpose 3.5-liter V6 engine that also powers the 370Z sports car, albeit with different settings. In this guise it makes 260 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 240 lb-ft of torque at 4,400; redline is 6,500 rpm. Unfortunately, Nissan prefers to use a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in cars that it doesn’t equip with a manual transmission; this unit, with overdrive is not as vague as most offerings but it’s certainly not progressive either. The engine/transmission duo are sufficient to propel this 4017-pound five-door hatch without issues.
Suspensions are fairly straightforward: struts at the front and multi-links at the rear, both with stabilizer bars. The Murano is not intended to be a hard runner; it’s built for comfort and fulfills that intent. This five-passenger SUV does have rack and pinion, speed-adjusted power steering – a wee bit too light for me – but good for its intent of touring. Disc brakes all around complete the package.
Inside the cabin of this 2017 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD, elegance abounds. If a driver were placed inside without seeing or knowing the exterior, it would be easy to think this is a true luxury sedan. A profusion of leather, wood, soft surfaces, matte touches abound, without the glare of too much brightwork. Murano’s wood-look accents arrays the doors, dashboard and central console, and its color coordination adds to the upmarket feel of this interior.
The gauge cluster is complete in front of the driver and the seat adjustments – power for both front-seat occupants and two memories for the driver – are extensive. Both front seat occupants have heated and cooled “Zero Gravity” seating; seats offer excellent support and comfort for long journeys. The beautiful power-operated heated leather steering wheel has phone, audio controls and extensive trip computer on the left while its right side is designated for the “intelligent” cruise control, part of a technology package. With the latter it is possible to get the following distance to rational level.
Nissan’s wide array of creature comforts jibes with offered technology in Murano, the company’s top of the line crossover. The base of the central stack has a 12-volt plug while the bi-level central storage has a secondary 12-volt, auxiliary and USB plugs, allowing everyone to have their own entertainment at hand.
Even rear seat passengers are able to keep their bums warm with heated outboard seats; air flow adjustments and a rear USB complement conveniences found at the front. There are rear pockets in both front seats. Rear seats have power-folding features to add to the voluminous cargo space. Bottle holders in all four doors as well as the obligatory pull-down armrest are standard.
The central stack houses an eight-inch screen that’s used for most functions on this vehicle. Navigation is standard on the Platinum Murano and it’s an excellent system that helped us find obscure hotels in central Dallas. The routes appeared to take us away from freeway traffic; questioning the nav in this vehicle is not a smart move as it uses the XM/Sirius traffic app. Dual-zone temperature controls allow the freezing passenger some heat and the hot driver some cooling. Something for everyone.
Bose provides the premium audio system that allows this well-insulated cabin to entertain driver and passengers. As expected the sound quality is excellent and Bose’s 11 speakers are well-situated about the cabin. The navigation system, with its voice recognition (for audio as well), and SiriusXM’s travel link services offer fuel prices, weather, movie listings, stock info and sports scores. This year Nissan adds Apple CarPlay to the infotainment features and it’s a welcome addition to available technology items.
The sole options on this vehicle are the technology package that includes the expansive one-touch panoramic moonroof, the intelligent cruise control and predictive forward collision warning to complement the similar rear warning system. Those items, together with carpeted floor mats and a cargo mat brought the price from a start of $41,680 (including freight) to $44,165. Considering the quality of its components and the number of standard features on the Nissan Murano Platinum AWD, the price sure isn’t over the top.
As a crossover sport utility vehicle with all-wheel-drive, mileage wasn’t going to be terribly high on this Nissan Murano and, indeed, it’s rated at 21/28/24 from the 19-gallon tank. On Texas’ highways, mileage stayed in the mid-24-mpg range using regular unleaded. With speed limits exceeding 70mph in the hinterlands, it seems everyone here likes to travel very fast so we joined them.
When it came time to stuff three large suitcases and extraneous bags under the hatch, the 32.1 cubic feet – uncovered but with privacy glass – were more than acceptable. Had we needed the available power folding rear seats to pile in more gear, we would have had 67 cubes to access. The power lift gate opening is just 30.8 inches off the ground, making it exceptionally easy to add or subtract items beneath the hatch. There’s a compact spare below the floor; Nissan gets props for this.
Elegance, comfort and capability are the call words for this 2017 Nissan Murano Platinum AWD. It does all it’s asked to do, occasionally more and feels like a proper luxury car, not a purpose-built sport utility vehicle. Passive safety is over the top with an overall five-star rating. This vehicle is a top safety pick from IIHS, rating good in the frontal category and superior in front crash prevention, in particular with the technology package.
Automotive serenity – thy name is Murano. In this day and age, serenity is not to be knocked.