A Victory & Reseda Throwback review of the 2009 Nissan Murano
It was either this or a Dodge Journey.
Why not the Dodge Journey? It would’ve been good to fulfill my Sirius satellite radio fix, but one thing prevented me from doing so. It is a peeve of mine when you think a vehicle would be generous enough to accommodate people of various shapes and sizes that it does the opposite. I must note for designing crossovers in the future to understand the human body a bit more and that there are drivers that need more steering wheel adjustments than others.
Sorry, Chrysler, but had the height adjustment for the steering wheel would’ve gone higher for tall-torsoed and thickly-thighed guys, I would be talking about your hot-selling crossover.
Instead, I will talk about another crossover. A vehicle that broke many molds in terms of design, driving manners and space utilization.
The Murano was a global victory for Nissan: A civilized family hauler that stood out in the crowd. The 2009 version builds upon this win.
As with the first Murano, Nissan continued to find ways to make it stand out. The grille, for example, screams this message beyond normal frequencies. The shape between the two generations remains unchanged but crafted with new Nissan design languages that are easy to understand. The rear end, for example, no longer resembles a 1940’s bustle back sedan. It has taken on something more modern…more Nissan if you will. In all, it is still a standout among the mundane in this market.
That theme continues inside. What one would call "weird" on the first generation Murano may call "borderline mundane" on this one. Yet, this is a classy cabin for a base model, even though it is not equipped with power seats, satellite navigation and many other toys found in more luxurious models. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed it! The bladeless key/remote locking fob slots in somewhere kitty corner from the start/stop button. Just depress the brake and push the button…and the motor fires up! Sounds familiar? This is how a growing number of vehicles are replacing traditional key-operated ignition switches with these fob-in/push button devices.
Did I mention that the seats were very big and provide a command position on the road?
The push-button ignition is connected to Nissan's superb VQ35 engine. Like buttah, the engine delivers everything it got when it responds to the accelerator…with ease. The accolades for this motor are too numerous to cite, but there is a sense of excellence with every revolution of this motor. I simply loved this engine.
With all four wheels connected by a mutual driveline, it engages the VQ35 with its Xtronic CVT transmission. Compared to the last couple of vehicles equipped with the CVT, this one works extremely well! No lag in lower revs, no jaw breaking shifts…just a smooth operator that takes the revs well. Amen for continuously variable transmissions that actually work as it is intended!
With a great driveline, the Murano rides big. The Murano loves to assure you that you are in a solid and secure place. That’s how it rides: Solid, smooth and big! Handling is a bit short, as you have to ease into cloverleaf interchanges and sharp curves before you feel the roll. Ah, but the steering is awesome for a crossover! It produced the tightest turning I’ve experienced in these beasts! The big, secure feeling of the Murano literally stops with great braking all around.
When it comes to fuel economy, it does not surprise me that it would turn under 20 MPG. However, compared to my last experience with a VQ35-powered vehicle, an Infiniti FX35, it is an improvement. The economy loop rating of 19.3 MPG won't set the world on fire, but it is penalized by the bulk of a deceivingly svelte looking crossover.
In all, I thoroughly enjoyed the Murano. As a standout vehicle, one can get used to its unusual grille and shape. However, seven passenger buyers may want to skip this as it only seats five. Frankly, I think that's enough seats, as I like the Murano for the way it balances its cargo space with its passenger accommodations.
This vehicle also reminds me how much I miss out on driving Nissan products. I can drive many GMs, Fords, Chryslers, Toyotas, Mazdas and Hyundais until the cows come home. But, I will always be reminded that certain Nissans evoke an air of driving excellence.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle was rented by Randy Stern
All photos by Randy Stern
PRE-OWNED VEHICLE INFORMATION: Per a search on several car shopping sites, V&R found there were several 2009 Nissan Muranos available between $6,400 and $13,000. Mileage and condition vary, but most were found with over 100,000 miles on the odometer, the highest being over 182,000 miles. Always have any vehicle inspected before purchase.