For 2006, the Nissan Murano receives a light freshening-up, including new wheel designs; restyled front grille; brushed aluminum roof rails on the SE; chrome accents on the lower front bumper and, on the SL and SE, also on the fog lamp rings and side sills; brushed aluminum rear bumper protector; LED rear combination lamps; better day and nighttime instrumentation visibility; seven-inch LCD colour display standard on all models; MP3 capability; illuminated steering wheel controls; Added Advanced Air Bag System; a rearview monitor standard on SL and SE; a new leather package; new Hazelnut interior colour; and new Sunset Red and Brilliant Silver exterior colours.

The Murano comes in three lines, all with a 3.5-litre V6 derived from the 350Z. All use a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) that has a six-speed manual shift mode on the SE AWD. The Murano comes in front-wheel or all-wheel-drive.

The SL starts in FWD, and includes 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, privacy glass, heated mirrors, mud guards, roof rails, heated cloth seats, power-adjustable pedals, dual zone automatic climate control, six-CD/MP3 player with seven speakers and wheel-mounted controls, cruise control, HomeLink garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera with seven-inch LCD display, eight-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped wheel, variable intermittent wipers and intermittent rear wiper.

The SL AWD shares the SL FWD’s features but with all-wheel-drive.

The SE comes only in AWD, and adds sport-tuned suspension, tire pressure monitoring system, traction and Vehicle Dynamic Control, Xenon headlamps, power sunroof, leather interior, intelligent key system, memory seats, and four-way power passenger seat. A navigation system can be added.

Based on the company’s FF-L platform, which also underpins the Nissan Altima and Infiniti FX, the Murano isn’t really a car, isn’t really an SUV, and definitely isn’t a truck. If the “crossover” name ever accurately applied, this is the vehicle. Handling is car-like, and with the Murano’s low ground clearance, the all-wheel-drive’s off-road capability is pretty much limited to missing your driveway and running over the flowerbed.

Still, the cargo area is spacious, the ride is sweet, it’s really fast, the handling is in the sports-sedan category and the busy dash and console have the Infiniti look, if not always its quality of materials. The CVT is unusual in this segment and adds to the smoothness. And if it’s to your liking, the styling is unbeatable.

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