2012 Nissan Murano LE AWD
2012 Nissan Murano LE AWD. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2012 Nissan Murano

In many ways the Nissan Murano heralded the coming of age for crossovers. While there were a handful of cute utes and a couple luxury crossovers on the market prior to its arrival in 2002 as a 2003 model, it stripped away the pretense of rugged, blockish SUV styling in favour of a sleek, curvaceous body that clearly embraced the urban utility (and fashion sense) that so many SUV drivers were looking for. Forget about locking 4WD, or even AWD on base models. The Murano was simply a stylish, high-riding hatchback, perfectly suited to the marketing-friendly “Crossover” label that would supplant the place of SUVs in the media and consumers’ tastes. It was exactly what people wanted and was a huge success for Nissan.

2012 Nissan Murano LE AWD
2012 Nissan Murano LE AWD. Click image to enlarge

The follow-up generation, launched in 2008 as a 2009 model, kept the formula the same, with updated styling and mechanicals, but nothing revolutionary in its basic composition. Like the first generation, it is based on the Altima platform, but styling that is distinctly Murano. There are some details that seem awkward in my eyes, particularly the front grille and “quad-cylinder” HID headlights that look a bit like an alien probing device, but overall it is an attractive crossover, and those HID projectors offer impressive illumination. As with the original, the soft lines and curvy corners and angled windows communicate an urban chic, and the exclusive Sapphire Blue Onyx metallic paint (only available with the $2,500 Platinum Package) is a subtle but appealing colour. Our tester also featured a set of intricately machined alloy rims with a satin-effect finish that added to the sophisticated look.

2012 Nissan Murano LE AWD
2012 Nissan Murano LE AWD
2012 Nissan Murano LE AWD
2012 Nissan Murano LE AWD. Click image to enlarge

The interior also delivered on the promise of sophistication, with a seven-inch touchscreen that works in concert with menu buttons, a scrolling wheel, and directional buttons, meaning you sometimes have three ways to navigate and access menus in the infotainment system. Somewhat redundant, but in the end you can’t help but find it easy to use because of all the options. Below the screen and controller were dedicated dial and button controls for radio and the automatic climate control that were conventional and even easier to use. Phone pairing was quickly managed and the Bluetooth reception was clear, as was the quality of streaming audio played over the 11-speaker Bose sound system.

The controls were laid out in a logical and clear system and surrounded by high quality, soft touch upper dash and harder plastics beyond casual reach. The door panels were a mix of soft rubber, leather inserts and hard plastics for the door handle, with the handle for closing the door treated with a special coating that provided a non-slip grip. However, the slim door pockets don’t provide for extra water bottle space, so the centre-console cupholders are the only drink-capable storage spots in front.

The seating was also typical of this class, at a height that makes slipping into the driver or passenger seat painless, and 8-way power adjustable with 2 memory settings for the driver’s seat (4-way power for front passenger). The seat itself was unremarkable but comfortable enough. Rear seat legroom and headroom is plentiful for adults and children and the ideal height of the seats made strapping our daughter into her safety seat similarly painless. The LATCH anchor for the top tether was placed conveniently high, making it easy to install with no need to circle around to the trunk as some require.

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