I've come to feel as though looking for and buying a car is much like buying jeans. The work entailed in finding the right car, particularly including the purchasing process, can be brutal. Throw two small kids into the mix and it suddenly seems rational to keep the old car that you know will break down in the center lane of the highway at any moment. I will do anything, ANYTHING to avoid the 12-minute test-drive that turns into an hour and a half, at best, at the dealership. I will do anything to avoid trying to corral my kids in the dealership parking lot to conduct the child car seat test. So what's the reward? With jeans, the hard work pays off only after multitudinous walks of shame from the dressing room to the 3-way mirror in the hall. When I find the perfect pair, I couldn't be more elated than if I'd discovered gold. With a car, the reward is the priceless sense of relief that I won't have to go through the process again for a long time. Of course, a shiny new car in the driveway isn't a drag.

If you can swing it, the reward can be the 2006 Nissan Murano. It is just as good as your new favorite pair of jeans. The appearance of the vehicle has been likened to a shoe and yes, the grill is a little funky-looking. Like a pattern on the back pocket of designer jeans, it's a bit over the top, but distinctive. And like my favorite jeans, a good fit in a new car is crucial. My 6-foot tall husband must be comfortable, the kids must be comfortable and of course I must be as well. Can you imagine one pair of pants that fits everyone? The Murano is that pair of jeans for my family.

For the mom-driver, everything is close at hand, yet I also feel like I have a lot of room. There's plenty of space in the back for my two kids and I can fold down the armrest that houses the cup holders. I have the view of an SUV but the handling of a car, because it's built on the chassis of a car. I have size but not excessive bulk in the Murano, it's very responsive and I get an average of 20 miles to the gallon. Tres chic!

Both sets of Latch connectors in the back seat are easy to use. If I need to haul something around (other than children) I can fold the 60/40 rear seats flat either by pulling a strap on the seat, or via a nifty handle in the cargo area. Just one yank of either and poof, the back seats are down all the way. It couldn't be easier. The model I have comes with a liner for the cargo area. I don't worry about tossing dirty bikes or shoes in the back as I can just lift out the rubber liner and wash it off with a hose. Like jeans, the Murano is low-maintenance. The one problem with the back of the Murano is that Nissan doesn't offer a third row. I'm not entirely sure how one would fit, but I think it's worth Nissan's time to research it. The only thing that would prevent me from purchasing a Murano as opposed to leasing one is not having the flexibility a third row offers.

I absolutely love the backup camera in this Murano. It's a welcome addition to the many other safety features. I am confident pulling out of parking spots with large SUV's flanking both sides, not to mention backing out of my driveway and also handling more tricky maneuvers like parallel parking. The extra peace-of-mind that Nissan grants me is plenty to rave about and I certainly hope backup cameras become standard for all vehicles in the future. Safety is totally vogue.

In any case, the Murano makes any purchasing decision easy. A fun, sexy car with no embarrassing three-way mirrors or visible panty lines for a family of four is certainly a gem. If I thought I could get away with it, I'd buy two!

*For more information on the 2006 Nissan Murano and its safety features visit Cars.com.


LATCH Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times