Top: Shiro Nakamura, Senior VP and Chief Creative Officer, with the 2015 Nissan Murano. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Paul Williams, additional photos by Jonathan Yarkony
New York City, NY – No, this isn’t some kind of concept SUV; it’s the production version of the 2015 Nissan Murano, which Nissan executives say is designed to look like a concept vehicle put into production. Okay, then. Mission accomplished!
Indications are that that this design will inspire future Nissan vehicles – or at least, the cars and CUVs – which is especially interesting because for quite a while, it’s been hard to pin down exactly what a Nissan looks like. Over the years, the company has bounced from radically weird (Juke) to very conservative (Sentra), to outright dull (Versa) to outrageous (GT-R), lacking a unifying theme to identify the brand (other than the logo). Nissan executives explained that this was actually a strength, enabling Nissan to offer a range of very distinctive vehicles appealing to different buyers with different needs. That the Juke was completely unlike the Sentra, for instance, was therefore seen as a positive attribute.
Lately, attitudes have changed, and with the all-new 2015 Nissan Murano we’re told that its distinctive design will indeed be a precursor of future Nissan vehicles. The third generation Murano revealed at the New York Show, therefore, “expresses a new Nissan design direction – including its ‘V-motion’ front end, LED boomerang lights [originally introduced on the Nissan 370Z], and the unique ‘floating’ roof,” according to Nissan. It’s the shape of things to come, to lift a phrase from now defunct Triumph (a good tagline, nonetheless!).
The Murano is the right vehicle to get this ball rolling. When first introduced it created something of a stir in the SUV and nascent CUV segments, arguably influencing other manufacturers to move away from traditional boxy SUV styling and into more aerodynamic and appealing forms.
While the original Murano – introduced in 2002 as a 2003 model – used elegant Italian glass as a design theme along with Spanish styling flourishes, the 2015 Murano is about futuristic transportation, according to Nissan. The shapely exterior, influenced by the company’s Resonance Concept, is carried through to the interior, which is designed to create “an engaging social lounge feel,” that features a lower-height instrument panel, wide centre console and Zero Gravity front and outboard rear seating,” the latter inspired by NASA.
An important difference between Canadian and US Murano models is that for Canada, an eight-inch colour display with multi-touch control, NissanConnect, navigation and mobile apps are standard equipment.
While some other companies are moving to four-cylinder power, Murano remains a V6 vehicle, it’s 3.5-litre DOHC engine mated to a CVT “automatic” transmission. Optimized for fuel efficiency, and boasting a 0.31 coefficient of drag, Murano features a lower grille shutter, front and rear spoilers, rear tire deflectors, rear suspension fairings and an optimized fuel tank design. The drivetrain in combination with the aerodynamic exterior is expected to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent. For 2015, front-wheel drive returns to the Murano as an option to the all-wheel-drive system.
Rear cargo area dimensions are increased by approximately 84 millimetres in width and 50 mm in length, while the rear liftgate is reshaped to more easily permit loading and unloading cargo. In combination, these modifications add 113 L of cargo capacity to Murano. Usefully, the split rear seat can be controlled from the cargo area for added convenience.
Safety technologies continue to be a strong suit of the Nissan brand, with many advanced systems both standard and available. The new Murano uses up to four onboard cameras and three radar systems to inform a range of safety technologies such as Moving Object Detection (MOD), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW) and Forward Emergency Braking. The new Cross Traffic Alert (CTA) system utilizes radar to detect a moving vehicle behind the Murano approaching from either side of the parking space. This enables the driver to better see curbs, shopping carts and strollers, for example, via onscreen images, visual notification and warning chimes.