In the interest of full disclosure, I should let you know that I own a 2006 Nissan Murano. It's sporty and has black leather seats, and those two things alone make it feel like a very different vehicle from the 2009 I recently tested. It's almost as if the old Murano went and had a "procedure" or two done.
The updated Murano has been eagerly anticipated in the car world, and its looks do not disappoint. One noticeable change is the beautified front grille. It looks like the Murano went and got itself some cosmetic dentistry to fix the gappy grin seen on earlier models; the new version has been straightened and brightened. I liked the funky look of the previous model, but the 2009 just looks so classy. I love the redesigned, refined rear end (no comments, peanut gallery!). Behind the wheel, the 2009 seems less sporty than mine, but more cushy. A little homework indicates that the 2009 has different shocks, which I'll assume is the reason for the different feel. Check out a side-by-side comparison of the new and old Muranos here.
Inside, the weird instrument panel is gone and the blocky, lego-like dash has been smoothed and molded. It looks much less like an afterthought now, and I like the change. That's not to say I don't enjoy the funky dash in my 2006, I'm just not sure it's a long-enduring design statement; I think I'm already getting tired of it, and I guess Nissan agrees. The only issue I have with the otherwise modern, sleek dash in the 2009 Murano is the readout for the radio and climate controls. The orange digital numbers and letters look like something from 1989, and they stick out in this otherwise modern interior.
While that aspect seems outdated, other things have been pleasantly updated. One particularly nice change is that the cupholders concealed in the backseat armrests no longer have that flimsy flap for your kids to snap off. There's also a nifty little cubby in the back of the center console where they can hide small toys. The Latch connectors are easily accessible, as are the tether anchors. The cargo space can still handle any family gear with ease - I'm glad to see they didn't fix what wasn't broken! Oh wait, they did take out my lined cubbies and put in hard plastic, so anything you put in them rattles. While that's not a deal-breaker, it is a little disappointing.
The center seat in back still has a seat belt housed in the roof, which kind of makes me nuts, and the fabric interior was staticky (consider that a combo word for "static" and "icky"). The fabric reminded me that I will never purchase a car without leather (faux or otherwise). Also disappointing was the fact that Nissan didn't make the backup camera standard on its base model. I missed it greatly, and am surprised Nissan didn't take this opportunity to be a leader in the safety department. It should have gotten a second opinion on that one.
I'm happy that the majority of things I love about the Murano haven't been altered. It's a perfect size for me and my family, it handles lots of tasks very well, and it's sharp and distinctive. And now, thanks to its surgeon - er, design team - it's updated and refined for a fresh look.
*For more information on the 2009 Nissan Murano and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
Latch Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Good Times-Groove On
2009 Nissan Murano FWD S
Base price: $26,330
Price as tested: $29,225
Engine: 265-hp, 3.5-liter V-6
Fuel: 18/23 mpg
Ground Clearance: 7.4"
Turning Radius: 18.7'
Cargo space: 31.6-64.0 cu. ft.
NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings
Driver's side: n/a
Passenger's side: n/a
Front occupant: n/a
Rear occupant: n/a
Rollover resistance: n/a