Nissan boosts Murano LE AWD to the Platinum
The 2012 Nissan Murano is a family-friendly, five-passenger vehicle that blends the best of crossover qualities.
It offers utility and raised vantage point of a tall wagon, the upright roominess of a minivan, some SUV-like abilities and attitude, along with all the modern sedan-like comforts you could ever hope to expect.
It is one of the original CUVs, launched in 2002 as a 2003 model and the predecessor to most of the ever-growing number of competitors in this, the hottest segment of the automotive industry.
Originality is a pretty good place to start. But in a ‘what have you done for me lately?’ kind of world, the Murano has managed to keep current with a second generation version that debuted for the 2009 model year, and with yearly tweaks, tech upgrades and trim adjustments.
Last year, the 2011 Murano was refreshed with new fascias in front and back, and with new headlights and taillight treatments. Nissan also tried to make the Murano more accessible, slashing the starting price by almost $4,000 and adding a fourth, mid-priced SV trim level into the middle of the lineup.
That’s a price slot many Canadian’s aim for, not quite into the leather-clad luxury upper reaches and sticking with the cloth interior theme, but bolstered by a bump up in equipment and usable upgrades, adding a dual-panel moonroof, auto headlights, heated power front seats, Bluetooth phone system, vehicle security system, auto-dimming RearView Mirror, a seven-inch colour Vehicle Information Display, and an 11-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD Bose Audio System with steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
For 2012, the Murano has added a new Hakone White exterior colour, and a new seven-inch monochrome screen to the base S model, while carrying on with its successful formula.
It’s a formula that builds on Nissan’s ‘D’ platform, a foundation that is one-and-a-half times more torsionally rigid than the platform of the first generation Murano. Four-wheel independent suspension and a speed-sensitive power steering system, similar to the one used in Nissan’s 370Z sports car, combine for a smooth and unerring driving feel at highway speed or in country road cornering.
Large four-wheel vented ABS disc brakes with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) provide stopping power.
Under the hood, all 2012 Muranos feature an evolution of Nissan’s award-winning VQ series engine—a 3.5-litre 24-valve DOHC V6 boasting 260 hp and 240 lb/ft of peak torque. This motor lives up to expectations, providing seamless pulling power with little drama. This V6 is officially rated at 11.7/8.5L/100km (city/hwy). My personal results—12L/100km—as usual, averaged closer to the city mileage numbers, especially in this LE tester, one of the heaviest, fully loaded versions.
Engine power is transferred to the tarmac via an Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) automatic with Adaptive Shift Control (ACS).
In Canada, Nissan’s Intuitive All-Wheel Drive System comes as standard equipment, along with Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with a Traction Control System (TCS).
The 2012 Nissan Murano comes in four models—S AWD, SV AWD, SL AWD and LE AWD. As tested here, my Murano was dressed in top-of-the-line LE trim. It added a new-for-2012 Platinum Package ($2,500) that bolsters luxuries past the LE limits, including 20-inch alloy wheels with a unique titanium finish, chrome exterior mirrors, the Nissan Navigation System, Bluetooth Streaming Audio and Platinum Edition badging on the Murano’s butt end.
There’s a new exterior colour available with the Platinum Package—Sapphire Blue Onyx—but my tester looked just fine, thank you, in a handsome shade of Blue Lightning.
Yes, it’s a good-looking vehicle. The second generation models lost the egg crate grille and feature a sharper snout, more aggressive curves, and styling lines that add a slightly more athletic cut to the shape and build.
Inside, Nissan labels the Murano’s interior styling as a ‘mobile suite’ design theme.
The sweep of dark dash and interior textures are set against nicely contrasting highlights. This LE model features wood-tone trim instead of aluminum accents and there’s a full load of goodies, even a heated steering wheel—one of those decadent extras you would never think of ordering but that is oh, so easy to get used to on cold winter mornings.
The seating is comfortable and adequately roomy in front and back. There’s enough headroom even with the moonroof space intrusion and a secondary glass panel above the rear seats really opens up the cabin ambiance.
The second row in this LE tester features a flat floor, fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, heated outboard seats, HVAC vents in the ‘B’ pillars and the 60/40 rear seat is available with a convenient power return feature—the seat returns to the upright position with the touch of a button.
Cargo room is rated at 895 litres (31.6 cu ft), maxing out to 1,812 litres (64 cu ft) with the second row folded flat.
Our test vehicle also featured an innovative foldaway cargo organizer that pops up with a push of a button from its hidden space below the rear cargo floor.
Vertical cargo partitions separate and support grocery bags or other loose storage items.
All in all, the 2012 Murano LE is a pretty complete package. I was running through tests on several vehicles in the Nissan lineup and the Murano stacks up well against any one of them, even when compared to the vehicles from the upscale Infiniti stable.
It’s nice to see an original that hasn’t lost its relevance, still offering a sense of fresh modern styling in a timeless package with the right blend of five-passenger comfort and performance.
Nissan Murano LE AWD Platinum Package 2012
Body Style: mid-size crossover
Drive Method: front-engine, all-wheel-drive
Engine: 3.5-litre 24-valve DOHC V6 (260 hp, 240 lb/ft)
Fuel Economy: 11.7/8.5 litres/100 km (city/hwy)
Cargo: 895 litres (31.6 cu ft) behind the rear seat; 1,812 litres (64 cu ft) with the second row folded flat
Sample Prices: Murano S AWD $34,498; Murano SV AWD $37,598; Murano SL AWD $40,698; Murano LE AWD $44,098; s tested Murano LE with Platinum Package ($2,500) and Metallic Clear Coat ($135) $46,733