Automakers are great at conjuring up far-fetched concept cars that look great spinning on turntables, but have nary a chance of making it to the street. That’s what many thought about the Resonance crossover concept at the center of Nissan’s display at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. But, many were wrong. With few changes, Resonance becomes the third-generation Murano.
It’s striking, even sexy, for a mid-size crossover. As with the new Maxima, it identifies with a Nissan’s bold trademark “V Motion” grille, flowing multi-faceted bodylines, and a floating roof with “cut-through” rear pillars. LED headlamps, 20-inch machined alloys, and aggressive lower body sculpting take Murano from boring to invigorating. It’s more aerodynamic than a '90s Corvette. You want to thrash it, caress it, and make eyes at it.
Riding inside is the equivalent of lounging in a modern upscale den. In fact, Nissan bills it as “A VIP Lounge for Five.” It’s first class all the way, equal parts art museum and luxury SUV. Instead of faux woodgrain, trim that looks like mother of pearl accents the dash, doors, and center console with soft leather and vinyl curved in swaths of posh. Large gauges and infotainment controls would be appropriate on a luxury audio system. Proper knobs for tuning and volume remain. It’s both modern and comforting - an Asian infusion of luxury and utility.
There’s also plenty of technology. Navigation gets you where you need to go, but 11-speaker Bose audio, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and panoramic glass roof make getting there more enjoyable. Rear seats recline or flip-forward to enlarge the cargo area. A power rear hatch, and push button starting also help. Safety is enhanced with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, and Around View® Monitor.
It’s not all a fashion parade as there’s plenty to discuss under the flowing hood. You can get exactly one engine - a 260 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 connected to a continuously-variable transmission. Front-drive is standard, but we sampled an all-wheel-drive model to make sure no snow, sleet, or herd of snails would slow our roll. Sleek style helps raise fuel economy to 21/28-MPG city/hwy for both front- and AWD models.
I suspect nobody will need more power, whether sailing along or with four and their luggage aboard. I don’t always love continuously-variable transmissions, which often buzz and whine like a scorned weed-eater, but Nissan’s are among the smoothest and quietest available. In the Murano, you just notice seamless power. Unfortunately, steering it is about as numb as a cavity patient’s mouth.
When it debuted about a decade ago, the Nissan Murano was one stylish ride, looking more like a concept car than a family crossover. I drove one from Atlanta to Memphis and enjoyed it immensely. From its aluminum-paneled, contrasting-color interior to its Bose audio system, every inch felt special. The second-generation Murano was just OK. Round Three really resonates, setting standards in style and luxury that competitors like the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Chevy Equinox, and Ford Edge will struggle to meet. Prices start at $29,660, but came to $43,745 as-tested.
Watch Casey’s video review of the Nissan Murano; follow him on YouTube and Twitter: @AutoCasey.
2016 Nissan Murano
- Five-passenger, AWD Crossover
- Powertrain: 260hp 3.5-liter V6, CVT auto trans
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 20”/20” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Style, Power
- Fuel economy: 21/28 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Canton, MS
- Base/as-tested price: $29,660/44,070