NEW FOR 2009:

– Completely redesigned model

Temporarily discontinued for 2008, the Nissan Murano returns for 2009 as an all-new model.

Now in its second generation, the Murano receives new, evolutionary interior and exterior styling, a new platform and a refined version of its engine and transmission. Horsepower rises from 248 to 265, while torque increases from 244 lb-ft to 248. While a front-wheel drive model was previously available, all models are now all-wheel drive.

Changes include a new hood and wheel arches, available 20-inch wheels, rear glass shape, large LED taillights, new front seats and steering wheel, "Welcome Lighting" ambient light system, new instrument panel design, standard cargo organizer, and available wood and aluminum accents, power-return folding rear seats and heated rear seats.

The new "D" platform, first introduced on the 2007 Altima, uses lighter suspension components with increased stiffness, and features new dual flow-path shock absorbers and new twin-orifice speed-sensitive power steering.

All Muranos feature a revised 3.5-litre V6 with advanced Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with manual shift mode. Trim levels are the S, SL and LE.

Features on the S include 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated mirrors, roof rack side rails, information centre, privacy glass, pushbutton ignition, tire pressure monitoring system, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, cruise control, tilt and telescopic wheel, power-up rear folding seatbacks, under-floor foldable cargo organizer, cargo cover, six-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input jack, and anti-theft system.

The SL adds rain-sensing wipers, RearView Monitor, information centre colour display, garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated cloth seats, centre console cupholders, and digital Bose stereo with six-CD/MP3 player, wheel-mounted controls and XM Satellite radio.

The LE adds 20-inch alloy wheels, bi-Xenon headlamps, power sunroof, power liftgate, Intelligent Key system, Bluetooth capability, four-way power passenger seat, driver’s side memory, heated rear seats, leather upholstery, leather-wrapped wheel, power tilt and telescopic wheel, and iPod interface. The LE is also available with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Always a great vehicle to drive, the Murano gets even better with its improved platform, increased horsepower, and refined interior. Its handling is car-like, acceleration is sporty, and its smooth CVT has no hint of a "rubber band" feel. Attractive and well-balanced, this is definitely one of the better crossovers.

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