Welcome to the 2007 Nissan Murano 2 Minute Test Drive

Review by automotive.com

The Exterior

The Murano is named after the glass sculpted in the islands near Venice. The glass is known for its beauty as well as for the high-tech methods used in its production. In the Nissan Murano, this duality is most obvious in the styling.

The Murano is designed to blend the look of a car and a truck. The top half of the body is sleek like a car, while the bottom half is bulky like a truck. Overall, the look is much sleeker than tall box-shaped SUVs. At first it looks a bit over the top, but most people quickly get used to it and traditional SUVs start looking boxy and dated by comparison.

Big 18-inch wheels contribute to Murano's muscular styling. Sculpted, vertical-stack projector headlights define the front corners. The windshield and front side windows are tinted green to deflect UV radiation; the rear side windows and backlight are darkly tinted for privacy.

The highly styled rear hatchback is made of reinforced plastic because steel won't bend easily in such a complex shape. The hatch is heavy, however, and the lift point isn't ideally located, so it takes some effort to raise and lower, and this is perhaps our biggest complaint with the Murano.

As its looks suggest, the Murano is an aerodynamic machine. Details in the design help it slip quietly through the air. Airflow-improving devices include an underbody engine cover, front and rear tire deflectors, a rear spoiler, and aerodynamic mirrors. Combined with the low frontal area and roof, these enhancements increase fuel efficiency and limit wind noise at high speeds.

To finish the high-fashion look, Nissan offers 10 exterior colors with four interior hues to mix and match. The colors were chosen carefully to promote a luxury look.

The Interior

Climbing into the Nissan Murano couldn't be easier. The seating position and steering wheel orientation make it feel more like a car than an SUV. Slide into the driver's seat and you'll notice outward visibility is excellent in all directions. This isn't a small vehicle, though, and you can't see the corners of the fenders, so you'll need to be extra careful when parking. The view rearward, however, is not compromised as much as we had expected by the stylishly thick D-pillars.

The front seats are comfortable and supportive, even for people well over six feet tall. Petite drivers are also able to get comfortable, with optional power-adjustable pedals that help ensure a good driving position without getting too close to the steering wheel where the air bag is housed. The overall interior fit and finish are good. Murano's instrument cluster is garnished with genuine brushed aluminum trim that gives it a younger, sportier look. Wood-tone trim is available in the SL, but the aluminum trim seems more appropriate here. The gauges have a classy grayish background with amber backlighting. Steering wheel audio controls are illuminated.

A prominent pod juts from the center of the dash presenting audio and climate controls. A seven-inch color LCD screen enhances usability and access to vehicle information. We aren't in love with the appearance of the pod, but it puts the switches close at hand. The dual-zone, fully automatic climate control is a step above the class, and it features rear air conditioning vents located on the B-pillars, a useful feature for pet owners as well as those who regularly carry rear-seat passengers.

The stereo controls are on the small side, but easy to use once you get the hang of them. The preset buttons, for example, can be programmed to select your favorite stations regardless of whether they are AM or FM; this eliminates the need to press a separate mode button when switching from your favorite FM music station to your favorite AM talk radio station, making life easier and reducing distraction while driving. Controls on the steering wheel allow easy volume adjustments.

Customers can order either XM or Sirius satellite radio as an addition to the Touring package. Though you do have to pay an annual subscription fee, we've found satellite radio to be a nice feature to have in a car, allowing us to listen to 24 hour news stations, such as Fox News and CNN, as well as every imaginable type of music, comedy, and sports; and there's no need to ever switch stations should you decide to drive from, say, Atlanta to Seattle.

The optional navigation system works well and includes a nifty three-dimensional birds-eye view that's sometimes more fun to follow than the flat map.

Useful features make the Murano a satisfying car for day-to-day use. A large center console separates the front seats, enhancing the sports sedan feel of the interior. The center console features a two-tiered lockable storage box with enough room for a laptop computer or a purse, cell phone, sunglasses, coins, cups and bottles. The door pockets flip out for easy access, and there's a hidden storage tray and two bins under the cargo floor. There are also three power outlets: front-passenger footwell, center console and rear.