2021 Nissan Murano
2021 Nissan Murano
The five-seat 2021 Nissan Murano skips a third row in favor of style and cargo space, especially the former.
For 2021, Nissan enhances the appeal of the aging Murano with more standard active-safety kit across all four trims. Three new colors can be found on the palette and a new Special Edition package replaces last year’s SV Premium Package.
Powering the Murano is a 3.5-liter V-6, an engine that is becoming somewhat of an oddity in a segment dominated by turbo-4s. It’s rated at 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque, which gets sent through a CVT that drives either just the front wheels or all four. Gas mileage is rated at 20 mpg city, 28 highway, and 23 combined.
Nissan now equips every Murano with their SafetyShield suite of active-safety features, which includes automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, blind-spot monitors, high-beam assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic rear braking.
The IIHS and NHTSA both gave the Murano a nod of approval for its crash-test performance. However, as the IIHS has not yet tested the Murano’s headlights, the model has not been named a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+.
With a base price of $33,605, the Murano S comes equipped with cloth upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Like all other trims, all-wheel drive is a $2,000 upcharge.
The $36,735 SV adds in power front seats, rear parking sensors, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. It also opens the doors to optional synthetic leather and a sunroof.
For $41,105 the SL gets standard leather and Bose audio.
The priciest Murano is the loaded-up $45,155 Platinum, which boasts softer leather, navigation, and a surround-view camera system.
The design of the Murano dates back to 2015, which was the last time Nissan saw fit to redesign their mid-size two-row crossover. Since then, the rounded shape and busy front end have remained contemporary. The themes set by the Murano over the past decade have been adopted by many rivals, which is why the Murano still looks good, despite becoming so familiar.
The interior’s less dramatic but still functional and attractive. An 8.0-inch touchscreen holds court in the upper dashboard. It’s standard across all four trims and is easy to use and learn. More advanced systems are available in competing models, but the Murano’s setup shouldn’t turn anyone away.
With seats aping a NASA zero-gravity design, it’s no surprise the Murano makes a good road-trip companion. The support provided by the front seats is unsurpassed at this price point.
The back seat isn’t much worse. Its 39 inches of leg room is plenty for rear riders to stretch out, and decent head room and shoulder room make for a spacious rear compartment. We wouldn’t get the optional sunroof, however, as it eats up two full inches of head room.
The cargo hold has room for 31 cubic feet behind the second row; fold those seats down for 67 cubes worth of cargo space.
In a word of turbo-4s, the 3.5-liter V-6 in the Murano is a throwback to the days when V-6s were as common as city pigeons. It doesn’t have the power some modern V-6s have—the 260 hp it puts out is right in line with the turbo-4s used in competitors—but there’s decent pep when you need to haul up a hill or make a quick pass.
Unlike a turbo engine, the power comes on in a more linear fashion, which feels a bit more natural from behind the wheel but doesn’t have that kick in the pants that a turbo can provide. The Murano aims for pleasantly quick, and that’s what it delivers. There is no emphasis on speed or performance. The CVT reminds us we prefer the crispness of a traditional gearbox to the CVT.
The Murano’s best quality may be its ride. Soft and quiet, this 4,000-pound crossover mutes the road even when the potholes border on craters. The relaxed ride is firmly focused on comfort, making no pretenses about sport or performance.
For those who like the styling and are happy with a simpler infotainment system, the 2021 Nissan Murano will fit the bill nicely. The 3.5-liter V-6 is quick as it needs to be and the seats and the ride can’t be faulted. We recommend the base model for its reasonable price point and standard active-safety equipment.
—by Anthony Sophinos with driving impressions by The Car Connection