Like a lot of other people that get into cars, it was my father who helped me contract the automotive bug. He was – and still is to some extent – a Nissan fanatic. My parents have owned countless Nissans since they immigrated to the United States, including a first-gen Maxima, an early Sentra, a Pathfinder, an Xterra, a first-gen Murano, and a Frontier. My first car was a ’02 Sentra SE-R Spec V – a car I sorely regret selling. So when Nissan agreed to lend me a 2019 Nissan Murano Platinum to review, I’m pretty sure my dad was more excited than I was when I told him what I’d be testing for a week.
He loves his Murano and it’s clear to see why he fell so hard for it. The first-gen Murano helped create the performance SUVs we know today. It shared the unibody platform with the Altima and a 3.5-liter V6 with the 350Z, but had the body of an SUV. It was unique for the period, as a lot of other SUVs were still in the rugged phase. But the Murano delivered. It rode on thick 18-inch wheels, had a firm suspension (on SE trims), dual exhaust pipes, and meaty steering. It felt quick, sounded great, and could hold a ton of cargo.
Back then, the Murano was one of a kind.
The latest Murano has huge ol’ shoes to fill, but instead of trying to fill in every crevice of a Nike Air Force 1, the current SUV is more concerned with fitting in with the other shoes on the rack. So, for better and worse, the 2019 Nissan Murano takes a different approach to being an SUV than the original one did. More on that in a little bit.
Our fully-loaded Platinum AWD rang in at $46,375. That’s quite a lot more than an entry-level S FWD trim, which costs $32,575. But, it was as fully loaded as something could get and felt like it was worth the money.
The first Murano made a name by being a performance SUV, but the 2019 model doesn’t. Instead, it’s more about having a relaxed, lush driving experience. Competitors may be going down the turbocharged route, but Nissan’s sticking to what it knows best: V6 engines. So yeah, you’ll find a 3.5-liter V6 under the Murano’s hood. The engine is rated at 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Nissan’s also sticking to CVTs, which the Murano has.
Nissan has been stuffing V6 engines into vehicles for decades and the 3.5-liter motor in the Murano is a good one. It makes decent power and has a good sound, but it’s let down by the CVT. We found that the gearbox hesitated at low speeds and resulted in drone when keeping the throttle pinned to the floor. Get out of the city and onto a stretch of highway, and the Murano’s happy. This is a cruiser, not an urban warrior or a back-road brute.
The suspension’s tuned that way, too. It’s soft, near wallowy soft, but that’s part of what makes it so comfortable on the highway. There’s nothing about the Murano that makes it even remotely feel sporty. Even the steering, despite being super heavy, is simply something that you use to maneuver the vehicle and not for anything that’s remotely about enjoyment. Though, it does look good.
We cruised, and cruised, and cruised with the Murano. It just felt right. Out on the highway, fuel economy isn’t all that bad either. We managed to get 25 mpg combined, which is better than the EPA’s combined rating of 23 mpg.
This is where the Murano shines. Two-row SUVs don’t have the same family appeal as their three-row counterparts, so designers are free to have a little fun. Despite being four years old, the Murano still looks great. Other two-row, midsize SUVs have odd proportions, but Nissan got it right with this sweeping design. I’m really a fan of this lengthy bodyline that starts at the front headlight and sweeps and jukes its way to the back to connect with the rear taillight. With all of the creases and strokes, one could make the argument that the Murano’s exterior design is busy. Busy, in my eyes, is better than dull.
More importantly, the Murano strikes a good balance of being upscale and athletic in styling. There’s just enough chrome to give the appearance of an upscale vehicle without going overboard. It’s smartly placed, like on the grille, outlining the windows, on the front and rear bumper, and on a small portion of the doors. When used properly, chrome can help accent other design elements, like the blacked out D-pillar and rear spoiler.
Slight changes have been made to the Nissan Murano’s exterior, but you’d win a contest if you spotted them without any prior knowledge. There’s a more pronounced V-motion grille, refreshed LED lights, different wheel designs, and a few new exterior paint jobs. One of those paint schemes is Deep Blue Pearl, which is the color you see on this Murano. It’s fantastic. Blue’s one of my favorite colors on cars and this shade is spectacular. The V-shaped LED running lights are also marvelous. But not as fantastic as that shade of blue.
This being the top-of-the-line Platinum trim, it comes with all sorts of exterior features. A massive dual-pane panoramic moonroof, 20-inch wheels, a motion-activated liftgate, and heated exterior mirrors are standard. All good things that help justify the high price tag.
The interior is another high point for the Murano. Not only is the SUV handsomely styled, but it also feels like a borderline luxury vehicle. The design of the dashboard is just as striking as the exterior. The way the dark wood trim curves around the sides and the V-shaped center console are handsome elements that stand out. The diamond-quilted patterns on the seats are fantastic, as well.
There’s still an element of usability to the interior, though. The transmission tunnel has nifty storage compartments on both sides. They quickly became designated as sunglasses holders during the week we tested the SUV, but they could also be used for small wallets, phones, or other little knickknacks.
Soft, supple leather is everyone and the seats hold you in like your favorite La-Z-Boy. The incredibly quick heated and ventilated seats also help with the plush feel. There’s a lot of talk about how seven-passenger SUVs are the ideal family vehicles, but’s let’s not forget about how spacious some five-passenger SUVs can be. For an impromptu beach adventure with five full-sized adults, the Nissan Murano did a swell job. We were all able to fit duffel bags in the trunk and, thanks to the reclining and sliding rear seats, found things in the back to be more than accommodating.
Sure, having more space on a long drive makes things more comfortable, but being squished is how road trips should be made.
The Platinum comes with dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, climate-controlled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and great semi-aniline leather upholstery.
The original Murano was such a great SUV. It was a true five-star player. Very few people, though, want the same level of sportiness that the original Murano had from a mainstream brand. No one wants the drawbacks of a rough ride anymore. So the 2019 Nissan Murano goes in another direction: luxury. Surprisingly, it pulls off the quasi-high-end character in style.
Two-row SUVs don’t have that same “family” feel that they used to, opening the door for more possibilities. With the Murano, those possibilities include theatrical styling, a plush cabin, and a great cruising demeanor. There’s no denying that the Murano has immense road presence and is one of the more stylish SUVs on the road. Adding more safety features has also helped the Murano’s case.
Some may be newer, others may be more engaging to drive, but few look or feel as plush as the Murano. Pulling into my parent’s driveway, this was the car that had my dad waiting for us at the steps. Giddy with excitement, he couldn’t help but explore every crevice of the SUV. The last time I remember him being this excited about seeing me pull up to the house is when we brought our dog over for the first time. If the Nissan Murano can make a first-gen owner jealous, that’s a job well done.