The interior of my test vehicle came with standard cloth seats. I'm typically not a fan of cloth seats (mainly because they're too difficult to clean), and these ones are no exception. They do, however, look great. These seats look and feel like suede. A leaky sippy cup in the backseat, though, and my lovely faux suede could be ruined.
The first great feature I notice on the Murano is the seat release latch in the cargo area. When I come across a really great bargain at a garage sale, all I have to do to make room for it is pull the lever and the rear seat immediately folds flat to the floor. No mussing or fussing. Simple and easy to use - just the way I like it.
After loading in my kids' two car seats, I notice there definitely isn't room for a third. An older child in a booster seat can be put in the center thanks to shoulder belts in all the seats. The rear seatback angle adjusts, making it easy to install car seats properly. If you're much taller than 5-foot-2, you may have to watch your head and duck under the door jam when buckling in children.
The storage compartments on the 2004 Nissan Murano SL vary greatly depending on where you are in the cabin. The rear seats lack sufficient storage. The front of the cabin is a different story. The center console has a removable tray that in itself is a respectable size. Lifting it out I can stash a slew of things in the bottom of the console. This is a great place to store essential emergency items, such as goldfish crackers and Cheerios. The fact that the cup and coin holders between the driver and passenger seats can be closed up when not in use is a great feature. This way I can cover up my clutter and immediately have the illusion of a tidy car. The driver and passenger in-door storage pockets pop open for access to pens and gum wrappers that inevitably find their way to the bottom.
The driver's seat in the Murano SL comes standard with 10-way power adjustments, including lumbar and pedal adjustments. I don't have to crank the seat all the way forward to reach the pedals. I just sit back and move the pedals to me. With the seat adjusting in so many directions, I wish my vehicle had the optional memory system. As a busy mom, the last thing I want to do is fuss with the driver's seat each time I get in the car.
The Murano doesn't have too many extra features for families. That being said, this is my favorite test vehicle to date. I look forward to driving it each morning. It has a smooth, solid ride and a quiet cabin. It's lower to the ground than most SUVs, making it easy for me and my children to get into. Consumer Reports gives it its highest overall rating of Excellent, which is second in its class to the Honda Pilot.
I definitely recommend the 2004 Nissan Murano SL. I wasn't able to use it for carpooling, but driving this Urban SUV transported me to a level of calm and bliss that's frequently elusive in motherhood. Which would you rather have: A minivan full of school children, or a sleek Urban SUV that makes driving feel meditative?
*For more information on the Nissan Murano and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.