2012 Nissan Murano

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Nissan Murano. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Robust V-6
  • Refined CVT
  • Ride quality
  • Interior quality
  • Rear visibility
  • Backseat functionality

The Bad

  • Mileage now trails competition
  • Slight accelerator hesitation
  • Sloppy gear selector feel
  • No Bluetooth on S trim level
  • Marginal roof-strength rating
  • Lacks high-tech safety options

Notable Features of the 2012 Nissan Murano

  • Five-seat crossover
  • Dual-panel moonroof
  • Backup camera standard except on S trim level
  • Power liftgate optional
  • 20-inch alloy wheels optional

2012 Nissan Murano Road Test

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Joe Wiesenfelder

The 2012 Nissan Murano remains a comfortable five-seat crossover body-type SUV with a higher-quality interior than you'd expect from a non-luxury brand, but shoppers should watch out for this Nissan's gas mileage.

Now three years into its second generation, the Nissan Murano is showing its age — not in the driving experience or its interior quality, but in efficiency. This stands out because the Murano was once one of the most efficient SUVs on the market, thanks to car-based construction and an efficient continuously variable automatic transmission, both of which were rare in the midsize class when the Murano made its 2003 debut.

What's New
With the addition of an 
Nissan Murano SV trim level for 2011, the Murano comes in four trims: S, SV, SL and LE. Starting with the 2012 model, the Nissan Murano S trim level has a 7-inch monochrome display and the LE is eligible for a new optional Platinum Package, which adds 20-inch alloy wheels and a navigation system. Otherwise, there are few changes for 2012 (see the two model years compared). All trims come with front- or all-wheel drive (AWD). We tested a Murano SL AWD.

Rewards Await You
The Murano is a peculiar-looking crossover; always has been. If you can get past that, or like it, rewards await you inside. Particularly in the higher trim levels, the 
Nissan Murano has a nicely appointed cabin. The SL we drove had rich leather and one of my favorite elements: real aluminum trim. Why many luxury automakers conti...

The 2012 Nissan Murano remains a comfortable five-seat crossover body-type SUV with a higher-quality interior than you'd expect from a non-luxury brand, but shoppers should watch out for this Nissan's gas mileage.

Now three years into its second generation, the Nissan Murano is showing its age — not in the driving experience or its interior quality, but in efficiency. This stands out because the Murano was once one of the most efficient SUVs on the market, thanks to car-based construction and an efficient continuously variable automatic transmission, both of which were rare in the midsize class when the Murano made its 2003 debut.

What's New
With the addition of an 
Nissan Murano SV trim level for 2011, the Murano comes in four trims: S, SV, SL and LE. Starting with the 2012 model, the Nissan Murano S trim level has a 7-inch monochrome display and the LE is eligible for a new optional Platinum Package, which adds 20-inch alloy wheels and a navigation system. Otherwise, there are few changes for 2012 (see the two model years compared). All trims come with front- or all-wheel drive (AWD). We tested a Murano SL AWD.

Rewards Await You
The Murano is a peculiar-looking crossover; always has been. If you can get past that, or like it, rewards await you inside. Particularly in the higher trim levels, the 
Nissan Murano has a nicely appointed cabin. The SL we drove had rich leather and one of my favorite elements: real aluminum trim. Why many luxury automakers continue to use obviously fake stuff boggles the mind. Speaking of luxury, since the beginning the Murano has bumped up against the Infiniti brand, which Nissan owns, but there was never a direct conflict. (The midsize Infiniti FX has rear-wheel drive and a separate platform altogether.) The all-new 2013 Infiniti JX35 is much more like the Murano, though it's larger and seats seven. Merely $1,615 separates the top front-drive Murano trim from the base JX35, however.

The Nissan Murano's three-passenger backseat doesn't have the fore/aft adjustment we've come to appreciate in more recent crossover models, but those in the rear seats won't be hurting for legroom, despite a specification that's lower than those of a few key competitors. The cargo area is large enough, too.

 

Murano vs. Midsize Competitors: Key Differences
  Nissan Murano Ford Edge Hyundai Santa Fe Toyota Highlander
Front legroom 43.6 40.7 42.6 43.2
Rear legroom 36.3 39.6 36.8 38.3
Cargo volume
(cu. ft., all seats raised/all folded)
31.6 / 64.0 32.2 / 68.9 34.2 / 78.2 10.3* / 95.4
Base towing capacity (pounds) 3,500 2,000 2,000 1,500
*Behind third row; with third row folded, volume is 42.3 cu. ft.
Source: Automakers

All told, the rear seats are exceptionally well executed. A canvas strap on the door side of the outboard seats allows passengers to adjust the 60/40-split backrest's angle easily. The seats also fold flat in a single step. Because they're spring-tensioned, you can lower them from the cargo area, too, using levers on the corresponding side. Even better, an optional power return feature on the higher two trim levels lets you raise them from the same location. If a passenger opens the backdoor to find the seat folded, the driver can raise it remotely using a switch on the dashboard.

To see how various child-safety seats fit in the Murano, click here.

Comfort & Poise
All the interior niceties would be meaningless if the 
Nissan Murano were otherwise disappointing, but that's far from the case. It provides a good mix of ride comfort and handling poise, and the standard 3.5-liter V6 has plenty of power. The Murano was an early adopter of the continuously variable automatic transmission, and its pairing with Nissan's V6 has arguably been the best CVT execution on the market. Even so, time has passed, and this time around we noticed some hesitation in accelerator response with the CVT, especially from a standing start. It was consistent and predictable, which makes it a bit less troubling, and there's no shortage of conventional automatics that exhibit the same behavior, and often exhibit worse. Just be sure to pay attention to it if you go for a test drive.

Falling Behind
What hasn't aged as well are the Murano's gas mileage figures, which have long been among its high points in this vehicle class, especially when equipped with AWD. At an estimated 18/24 mpg city/highway for front-wheel and 18/23 mpg for four-wheel drive, the mileage hasn't changed, but the landscape has. Comparable crossovers are now more efficient, including the Ford Edge, Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Highlander (see base versions compared). Likewise, models with three rows of seats, like the Honda Pilot, are more efficient, as is the Ford Explorer if you select the optional turbocharged engine. A literal heavyweight, the pricey Volkswagen Touareg falls behind the Murano at 16/23 mpg, but is also available in high-mileage diesel and hybrid versions.

Safety
In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the 2012 
Nissan Murano rated four stars overall out of five. Its rollover rating — which predicts rollover likelihood — is a typical four stars. Unfortunately, in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's roof-strength test — which predicts occupant protection in an actual rollover — the Murano scored Marginal, which is below average. This relatively new test cost the Murano the Top Safety Pick designation it had held previously thanks to Good scores in the other tests.

As is required of all vehicles starting with the 2012 model year, the Nissan Murano comes with anti-lock brakes and an electronic stability system. The front seats include side-impact airbags and active head restraints, and there are side curtain airbags to protect both the front and rear seats. See all the standard safety features here.

Perhaps another sign of this Nissan's age is the absence of active safety features — things like radar-based blind spot warning, pre-collision brake assist and a lane departure warning system.

Murano in the Market
A longtime Cars.com Best Bet, the 
Nissan Murano lost the designation in 2012 due to its below-average mileage and substandard roof strength, but it remains a favorite among Cars.com editors thanks to all its benefits. If you aren't concerned about a mile per gallon here or there, the Murano still stands tall against newer competition.

 

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Latest 2012 Murano Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

What Drivers Are Saying

(4.0)

Steal my car please!! Lolol.

by Upset Murano owner! from Starkville, MS on August 10, 2018

I loved it at first but found out it has engine and tranny issues. Had 78,000 miles when I bought it to pull my low trailer occasionally. 6 months later paid to install hitch and tranny whines like ... Read full review

(5.0)

Full featured and comfy ride

by PM-Indy from Indianapolis, IN on August 7, 2018

The Platinum version has all the bells and whistles, has been a great vehicle so far. Plenty of get up and go, quiet ride for a SUV, very smooth CVT transmission. This one will see lots of use. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Nissan Murano currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Nissan Murano S

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
marginal

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Nissan

Program Benefits

24 Hour Emergency Roadside Assistance, Towing Assistance, Trip Interruption Benefits, 3-month free subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio on properly equipped vehicles, Complimentary CARFAX® Vehicle History Report™ and 3-Year CARFAX® Buy Back Guarantee

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from original in-service date; $50 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 167 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Murano received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker