Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan
2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum. Click image to enlarge

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Manufacturer’s Website
Nissan Canada

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery:
2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum

When the Nissan Murano was introduced ten years ago, sporty and sharply styled SUVs were a rare commodity, and the term crossover had yet to be applied to the automotive sector – more for recording artists and tall broad-shouldered women with too much makeup and big feet.

But time marches on and, sometimes, old nameplates get pushed to the sidelines as new offerings snag the limelight.

So we thought it was time to revisit Nissan’s rakish five-seat mid-size SUV to see how it has withstood the test of time.

Quite nicely as it turns out.

This second-generation Murano has been with us since 2009, although a 2011 facelift bestowed revised front and rear fascias, new headlights and LED taillights. My top trim LE Platinum tester with its 20-inch alloys and new-for-2013 Midnight Garnet paint was quite a looker, helped out by the HID headlamps that added a sinister glare.

Yep, the Murano still carries its confident street cred.

Pricing starts at $34,498 for the base S model, although this LE Platinum rang in at $47,233 before freight – the most you can spend on a Murano.

The beauty of this Nissan, whether you go coach or first class, is that there are no powertrain choices to be made, for better or for worse. All Muranos are motivated by a 3.5L V6 that makes 260 hp and 240 lb-ft and mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Unlike Muranos south of the border, all Canadian models have AWD.

So unlike shopping for a Ford Edge or Jeep Grand Cherokee, option anxiety is greatly reduced. There will be no second-guessing after purchase. “My fuel bill is outrageous. Should I have gone for the four-cylinder?” or “Damn, this V6 sucks. Why didn’t I get the SRT8?” will never pass your lips.

Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan
2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum. Click image to enlarge

The Murano’s drivetrain is refined, satisfying and provides spirited performance when prodded. This is certainly one of the better engine/CVT pairings on the market in that you are not subjected to excessive engine drone when putting your Sorel in it. Not surprising since Nissan has been championing and refining these cogless trannies for a long time.

On the slick wintry roads around my house, the AWD Murano (on proper snow tires) was secure, showing a front-drive bias that prevented any kind of potentially upsetting oversteer situation. There is also a 50:50 lock function for the AWD selectable by a rocker switch in front of the shifter.

The Murano will tow 1,588 kg (3,500 lb.).

Away from the slick stuff, this CUV feels light on its feet and nicely agile. Despite having good body control, the ride is not harsh. The only dynamic drawback is somewhat numb steering.

Like all Nissans I have driven of late, the Murano shows the marque’s signature user-friendly character and emphasis on passenger comfort. The seats certainly won’t draw any complaints, nor the nice squishy arm rests. The large controls are easy to figure out and backlit “fine vision” gauges are wonderfully legible at all times. No peering into the binnacle with this ute.

Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan
Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan
Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan
2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum. Click image to enlarge

The Murano’s interior has a nice airy ambience, helped here by the double sunroof. Quality is good and I’ve always liked the Nissan/Infiniti big touchscreen with its angled panel of controls below. It’s so much easier to use than the full touchscreen systems like Ford’s MyTouch and Cadillac’s CUE. Kudos to the Bose audio, too.

Demerits include poor rearward visibility and an HVAC system that seemed slow to kick out the heat. You could take issue with the fake wood accents too, but I have seen a lot worse.

With this $44,098 LE model (before the $3,000 Platinum Package) you get a lot of kit. Along with the aforementioned sunroof, 20-inch alloys and xenon headlights, you get leather seating (heated front and back), rain sensing wipers, powered flip-up rear seats, powered liftgate, Bluetooth, Homelink, push-button start, 11-speaker Bose audio with Sirius and USB, rearview camera and heated steering wheel.

The $3,000 Platinum Package adds navigation, Bluetooth streaming audio, special finish wheels, DVD playback capability, blind spot detection, lane departure warning and moving object detection.

A handy feature was the cargo organizer under the load floor. The rear panel flips up vertically and triangular bits of netting create separate compartments that keep grocery bags and the like from sliding about.

Levers on the side of the cargo area make flipping down the 60/40 split rear seat a breeze and the cargo area is broad and flat, although the load floor is high.

The 2013 Murano gets a Transport Canada rating of 11.5 L/100 km city and 8.5 L/100 km highway. My week of admittedly light pedaling with quite a bit of highway driving netted 12.4 L/100 km.

For comparison, the 240 hp and 270 lb-ft Ford Edge 2.0L EcoBoost claims 9.9 L/100 km city and 6.6 L/100 km highway, and in a test drive that ran the same time last year it retuned 10.4 L/100 km.

A Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 3.6L V6 is rated 13.0 L/100 km city and 8.8 L/100 highway, although a diesel version is on the way which promises considerably better mileage.

Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan Test Drive: 2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum car test drives reviews nissan
2013 Nissan Murano LE Platinum. Click image to enlarge

Indeed, the Nissan Murano may not be the new kid on the block, but it is still a strong competitor in this segment. Factor in its good looks, quality interior and agile car-like demeanor, and you have a mid-size ute should be high on any buyer’s list.

Pricing: 2013 Nissan Murano LE
Base price (LE): $44,098
Optional equipment: Metallic paint $135; Platinum Package $3,000
A/C tax: $100
Destination charge: $1750
Price as tested: $49,083

Competitors:
Ford Edge
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Toyota Venza
Volkswagen Touareg

Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)




About Peter

Peter Bleakney is a Toronto-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).