Archive for the ‘nissan murano’ Tag

2016 Dodge Journey

Two words best sum up the 2016 Dodge Journey’s success: “versatility and value.” With a price starting just under $22,000, the Journey undercuts more expensive rivals like the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe and Honda Pilot. Granted, two of the three come standard with a V6 engine, and the 4-cylinder Journey has neither the power nor the features (Bluetooth isn’t even standard) to compete with the above-mentioned group. However, the Journey’s higher trim levels do come well appointed and can be equipped with one of the most powerful V6 engines in this class. Though aging, the 2016 Dodge Journey still has some surprises in store, such as clever in-floor storage and one of the best infotainment systems money can buy.

You’ll Like This Car If…

Those who need 7-passenger accommodations and are on a limited budget will appreciate the 4-cylinder engine offered on four of the five available Journey trims. The family-friendly Journey is extremely versatile with lots of places to hide cargo and precious items.

You May Not Like This Car If…

If you need a large 3rd-row seat, a Chevy Traverse or Honda Pilot makes a better choice. The Journey’s 4-cylinder engine and outdated 4-speed automatic are not the best choice for a 7-passenger SUV. Look to the Kia Sorento for a better 4-cylinder entry model, as well as a better warranty.

2016 sees the entry-level AVP trim dropped and the model lineup reduced to just five trim levels. SE, SXT and Crossroad trims have lower base prices than last year, while a new Crossroad Plus trim builds on the success of the Crossroad by offering standard leather seating and the Uconnect 8.4-inch display.


Driving the Journey

Driving Impressions Those accustomed to older, truck-based SUVs will be quite pleased with the way Dodge’s Journey crossover SUV for 2016 rides and drives. A unit body and advanced suspension setup help the Journey return car-like driving characteristics similar to a tall-riding station wagon, which is essentially what the Journey is. Confident on highway runs and surprisingly agile over narrow, twisting roads, the Journey is devoid of the bobbing and weaving one might experience in a truck-based SUV. Although we found the 173-horsepower 4-cylinder engine adequate with two people aboard, any additional bodies or cargo demands the Pentastar V6, which delivers an additional 100 horsepower and nearly the same fuel economy. We like the Journey’s upright seating position and found the front seats to be remarkably supportive and comfortable, even after driving long distances.

Favorite Features

CARGO FLEXIBILITY


Dodge’s Journey SUV for 2016 has numerous clever storage ideas. Not only does the rear seat fold flush, there are additional storage bins beneath the 2nd-row floor and front-passenger seat cushion. The same seat can fold flat to better accommodate long items such as a surfboard and skis.

3.6-LITER PENTASTAR V6 ENGINE


Dodge’s Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine is not only smooth and powerful, it also returns impressive fuel economy on par with the Journey’s smaller 4-cylinder engine.

The 2016 Dodge Journey’s cabin is available in a 2-row, 5-passenger layout or as a 3-row, 7-passenger configuration. Passenger space for adults is commendable up front and good in the second row, but legroom is very tight in the third row, which is best left for kids or occasional use. One of the best features of the Journey is its available Uconnect infotainment system. In addition to a large and easy-to-use 8.4-inch touch screen centered in the dash, there are supplementary buttons for climate and audio that are simple to see and use.


Exterior

Is it a sport-utility vehicle or the reincarnation of a station wagon? With the 2016 Journey from Dodge, its 192.4-inch length exceeds much of the competition, but Dodge’s designers have given it exterior treatments such as the chrome-trimmed cross-hair grille and eye-catching aluminum-alloy wheel choices that keep it from being merely bland. If a more stylish look is important, opt for the R/T version, with its 19-inch wheels, monochromatic treatment and distinctive R/T labels. For a tougher-looking version, there’s the Dodge Journey Crossroad, which features a faux skidplate, standard roof rails and blacked-out wheels.

Notable Equipment


Standard Equipment

The 2016 Dodge Journey 7-passenger crossover SUV is available in a five trims, from the base SE to the top-line R/T. At its most basic, the 2016 Journey includes dual-zone climate control, 4.3-inch touch-screen media center, keyless entry and push-button start, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and power windows and door locks. Entertainment is provided by a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD system with auxiliary and USB inputs, but no Bluetooth streaming as standard. Safety features include electronic traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, front-seat side airbags and side-curtain airbags for all rows.

Optional Equipment

Plenty of options can be had on the 2016 Journey. Among the more popular are 3-row seating (Flexible Seating Group), traction-enhancing all-wheel drive in lieu of the standard front-drive setup, an 8.4-inch touch-screen Uconnect infotainment system and navigation. Amenities that bring an upscale feel include leather seating, Infinity speakers, rear-seat video entertainment system with 9-inch screen and two wireless headphones, in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, and heated front seats and heated steering wheel. A Driver Convenience Group adds a rearview camera and distance-alert function when in reverse, but more advanced safety functions like blind-spot monitoring and automatic braking are not available.

Under the Hood

Two engines are available for Dodge’s 2016 Journey crossover SUV. Standard on lower trims is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes an only-adequate 173 horsepower. The engine we recommend is the 283-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 that is optional on all but base Dodge Journeys and standard in higher trims. The V6 is also your only choice if you require all-wheel drive (AWD) instead of the standard front-wheel drive (FWD) to deal with inclement weather and slippery roads. Both engines run on regular unleaded gasoline. All Dodge Journeys use automatic transmissions, with the 4-cylinder stuck with an older-style 4-speed and the 6-cylinder using a newer 6-speed. The Journey’s towing capacity is on the light end, limited to 1,000 pounds with the 4-cylinder and 2,500 with the V6.

2.4-liter inline-4 (SE, SXT, Crossroad)

173 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

166 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg

3.6-liter V6 (SE, SXT, Crossroad, R/T)

283 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm

260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 mpg (FWD), 16/24 mpg (AWD)

Pricing Notes

The 2016 Dodge Journey has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $22,000, including destination charge. Better-equipped mid-level versions of the Journey such as the SXT and Crossroad are in the mid-$20,000 range, while a top-line R/T version with AWD reaches the mid-$30,000 level. At its base price, the Dodge Journey SE remains the lowest-priced midsize SUV, and even after climbing trims is a good value among midsize SUVs such as the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9 and Kia Sorento. The Mitsubishi Outlander with seating for seven is also a value leader among 3-row SUVs, but is smaller than the Journey. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Journey SUV. In the years ahead, the Journey’s residual value is expected to be average, still lagging the Toyota Highlander.

Read more at: http://www.kbb.com/dodge/journey/2016/?r=45198081889915920

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Old Versus New: The Nissan Murano

We asked the owner of a 2009 Nissan Murano to take a spin in the all-new 2015 version of the dramatically styled crossover SUV. Is newer always better?

While we’d all like to have a McLaren, Porsche, or Lamborghini parked in our garage, that pesky thing called “reality” forces us to buy cars that are reasonably priced, convenient to drive every day, and—if there are kids involved—friendly to the sticky-handed set. One of the most popular models for families around the world since it made its debut in 2003 is the Nissan Murano. Named after the islands in Venice known for producing beautiful blown glass, this mid-size crossover SUV has always stood apart from the pack thanks to its dramatic design, great ergonomics, and car-like handling.

My sister, Lucy, is the happy owner of a 2009 Murano. She likes the modern styling, the comfort, the utility—she has two kids—and the fact that it drives more like a car than a hulking SUV. (Don’t even ask her what she thinks about her husband’s Toyota Sienna minivan.) So when I got to test the latest version, which is totally new for 2015, I knew she was the one who could give the best assessment. The third generation of Nissan’s flagship crossover delivers even bolder styling, a more luxurious interior, and a standard 3.5-liter V6 that ups both power and efficiency. Check out what the folks from Nissan were trying to accomplish with the new Murano, followed by Lucy’s thoughts. (Thanks, sis!)

Exterior

“One of the central constructs for both the exterior and interior of the new Murano was to ‘elevate your experience,’ which is counterintuitive to the heaviness and chunkiness of the traditional sport utility vehicle,” says Shiro Nakamura, Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. “This helped inspire the push for leading-edge aerodynamics and three key elements of our designs—the V-Motion front end, signature lighting, and the ‘floating’ roofline.”

Lucy immediately sees the difference: “I really like how it looks. This one is more modern than mine, more streamlined. It has more of an aquatic look, if that makes any sense. I especially like the dark panels on the sides in the back—even though it’s not a window, it looks like window as opposed to car. Very sleek.”

Interior

“Beyond the sense of elegant style and premium features, owners of the first two generations often tell us about the ‘effortlessness of Murano’—the great front view, the low instrument panel, the comfort and ease of operation. These are all things we kept and exaggerated in the new model,” says Nakamura.

“This is like the fancy version!” Lucy exclaims as she gets inside. “Does it have a USB? A charger? Yup! It’s got a familiar feel to it, but it seems more spacious. This sunroof is great; it expands all the way into the back. The kids don’t normally get the light back there. Yeah, this sunroof is awesome, there’s a lot more natural light. Wow, is this a top-down camera? I definitely don’t have one of those.”

“I have no complaints about my seats,” says Lucy as she takes her spot in the driver’s seat, “but this is more comfortable—the headrest and the back support feel a lot better. Mine doesn’t have leather on the dashboard, that I could take or leave. The cup holders look smaller and are in a different place, I think I like mine better…I prefer them horizontal, not vertical. Overall it’s totally familiar, but there are certain little nuances that are improved. Plus, it smells very nice.”

Driving

“With advanced, purposeful technology designed to help keep you safe and connected, along with its refined everyday driving experience, this all-new Murano adds the solid substance to go with its unmatched emotional style,” says Pierre Loing, vice president, Planning, Nissan North America, Inc.

“I love driving my Murano,” says Lucy. “It’s just big enough to feel like you’re not the smallest car on the road, but it doesn’t seem cumbersome. It’s a good size; it doesn’t feel like you’re driving a truck. The gear shift on this one is a little stiffer, and the steering definitely feels stiffer. I like it; it gives it that ‘premium-car’ feeling, very responsive. It’s got great visibility, which is also one of the things I really like about my car. The driving position is very similar…it doesn’t really feel like I’m driving a different car. Actually, it feels like I’m driving my car, but faster. This definitely has enough power to do what you need to do.”

Overall Impression

“I originally bought my Murano because I liked that it was bigger than a sedan but wasn’t as big as a minivan,” says Lucy. “I liked how it drove, I liked the style of it, the amenities, and, for the price, it just seemed like the right car. My kids like it too, because they feel like I’m not too far away from them. I have about 66,000 miles on mine, and I wasn’t thinking of getting a new car, but this new one really is great. It’s everything I like about my car, only better!”

Or, as Loing puts it, “Murano resets the standard in class once again.”

Read more at: http://www.scout.com/story/1554398-old-versus-new-the-nissan-murano

2015 Nissan Murano Test Drive

I’m technically old enough to be an empty nester, but I got started with the family thing a little late in life and still have a good 12 years to go before I officially qualify.

Nevertheless, I’ve got plenty of physical ailments, I wake up in the middle of every night and I love few things more than whining about how hard easy chairs are these days. So I think I’m more than qualified to evaluate the 2015 Nissan Murano.

I’m serious. Nissan has gone out of its way to point out that its all-new midsize crossover is a semi-premium play for folks who are dancing into their golden years footloose and kid-free, who don’t need a big SUV anymore but just can’t give up the comfort and commanding view that one provides.

As far as views are concerned, the Murano delivers them inside and out. Its body is abstract art, and as polarizing as that usually is. It’s a collection of voluptuous curves, origami creases, boomerang-shaped lights and a grille that appears to be a doorway to infinity (the unattainable destination, not Nissan’s upscale brand.)

An optical illusion makes it appear that its roof is supported by the blackness of space, but there’s more chrome than you’ve seen since the 1950s, too. If you showed up at an auto show in this thing, I’m pretty sure they’d let you drive right through the front door and onto the stand.

Slip through the Murano’s door and you’re surrounded by a paradise of plushness not typically available for a starting price of $30,455. If this actually were an Infiniti, you’d never be the wiser. It’s lavished in soft touch surfaces and modern lines, and it’s trimmed with a material called Jasper Pearlescent, which I’m pretty sure is named after the stone, not Abe Simpson’s best friend at the Springfield Retirement Castle.

So, what about the chairs? No complaints here. The Murano’s “zero gravity” seats are constructed using a NASA-inspired design and purport to promote a neutral posture while reducing pressure points and complaints. As much as I’d like to discount that backstory as marketing mumbo jumbo, they feel … different, and a painless five-hour drive into the frozen wasteland that is upstate New York circa 2015 proved their worth. Adaptive radar cruise control, collision avoidance and lane departure warning systems also helped reduce stress along the way.

The rear seats are similarly comfy, and there’s so much legroom back there that your friends might think they’re in a limo the next time you all go to a nostalgia rock concert at the local outdoor performing arts center. The cargo bay floor is a little high, but a week’s worth of luggage for four fits fine. The only thing missing is a pass-through down the center for skis, but there’s space for those newfangled snowboards. Better still, if you’re lazy like me, the rear seatbacks can be folded and restored to their upright position remotely.

The Murano shares its platform and drivetrain with the larger but less expensive and less impressive Pathfinder. Nissan’s familiar 260 hp 3.5-liter V6 moves things along through a continuously variable transmission and a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. Both versions have a highway fuel economy rating of 28 mpg, which is stellar for the class and achievable in the real world, even in the loaded, all-wheel-drive Platinum model I tested that was fitted with mud and snow tires and priced at $43,955.

The Murano isn’t a sporty car, but it feels strong when you stomp on the throttle. It sounds good, too. There’s a nice growl from the engine bay that’s missing in many cars today. It gets along fine on a twisty road, but the steering is a little limp and the suspension is too soft to encourage you to push it.

It’s a champ on snow, however. I spent a week driving around the very white roads of Lake Placid in stormy, sub-zero temps, and it never put a foot wrong, despite my best attempt to do a four-wheel Eric Heiden impression in an empty, icy parking lot.

One feature that should satisfy children of all ages is the available NissanConnect infotainment system, which represents the company’s latest tech and is a snap to use. It has large icons, a quick-reacting touchscreen and plenty of redundant buttons and knobs if you prefer old-school inputs. An expanding collection of web-enabled apps will eventually offer Facebook and Twitter. For now, it includes Google search, which can be used to find destinations, among other things, using voice commands.

With its original style and move in an upmarket direction, the Murano now honestly competes against both the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKZ, and it even makes a strong run at the Lexus RX — the reigning king of luxury crossovers. It’s working so far, with sales up over the last-generation model.

Those darn whippersnappers may think they’re all that, but sometimes they are.

As read on: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2015/03/06/2015-nissan-murano-test-drive/

2015 Nissan Juke

I didn’t always like the Nissan Juke. When it launched in 2010, I just couldn’t get over the way it looked – it came across as super weird, and kind of hideous at first blush. But I slowly warmed up to the funky little crossover/hatchback/thing, and after spending some time behind the wheel, I really learned to love Nissan’s small wonder. It’s a genuine hoot to drive, offering hot hatch-like thrills in a package that doesn’t look like anything else on the road. The Nismo and RS models that followed only increased my ardor for the turbocharged Juke, and now, I find myself smiling whenever I see one of these little guys bombing down the road.

Going into 2015, Nissan hasn’t really made major changes, but there are a host of smaller improvements on hand to make it a more well-rounded vehicle than ever before. And to up the funk factor for the new year, there are a slew of customization options now available to customers through the Juke Color Studio – for better or worse

Following my first drive of the third-generation Nissan Murano in Napa Valley, I took the refreshed Juke for a spin to see if the 2015 model year improvements still make for a car that’s good to drive and easy to use, while bursting with the same personality that slowly won me over in the first place.

Drive Notes
– Powering the Juke is the same turbocharged, 1.6-liter inline-four as last year, with 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque on tap. I’ve always liked this engine – it’s punchy and feels good when being worked via the 2014 model’s six-speed manual transmission. There’s lots of power down low, with a nice bit of boost mid-range through each gear. Altering the drive modes between Normal and Sport heighten this, and honestly, the turbo/manual setup in this front-wheel-drive Juke was kind of hilarious – a real treat.

– Sadly, Nissan will no longer offer the manual transmission on non-Nismo Juke models for 2015, so you’re stuck with the continuously variable transmission. Bummer. In sport mode, the usually good Xtronic CVT tends to rev high and hold itself there – a tendency of older such transmissions that’s seriously off-putting, especially for enthusiasts.

– Still, the Juke is available with a choice of either front- or all-wheel drive. The FWD Juke is fun, offering decent amounts of grip with a hint of predictable understeer. But I’ve always liked the four-season factor of the AWD Juke. I’ve never driven the high-riding hatch in the snow, but I imagine with the proper tires, this thing would be excellent.

– The rest of the driving aspects haven’t changed since the last time I left the Juke. The steering is nicely weighted and direct, the brakes feel a little mushy on first application but offer plenty of pedal feel after that, and the whole thing blasts down the road with a sort of fun that not many other small crossovers can match.

– What has changed about the Juke for 2015 is its styling, though I won’t fault you for not being able to immediately spot the differences. Up front, the already busy schnoz has been slightly redesigned, with reshaped turn signals (the top tier of lights), and new projector-beam headlamps worked into their middle-tier housings. The side indicators have moved to the mirrors, where they have an angular shape to mimic the lamps out front and the swoopy taillamps around back. And finally, some new colors are available, including the Solar Yellow you see here, not to mention all of the odd choices on tap in the aforementioned Color Studio.

– Inside, it’s more of the same – no big change here, aside from the addition of some NissanConnect tech and the inclusion of the company’s excellent Around View Monitor. Cloth and leather seating surfaces are available, with glossy silver or red trim on the doors and transmission tunnel. (Side note: the red gloss on this test car matched with the yellow exterior paint created a sort of ketchup and mustard theme that I wouldn’t recommend unless you’re a hot dog enthusiast.)

Nissan’s pricing for the 2015 Juke remains competitive, with the front-wheel-drive S starting at $20,250, not including $825 for destination. This represents an increase of $1,080 versus the 2014 model (the destination charge has increased by $15, too), but Nissan points out that the ’15 Juke comes standard with a lot more kit, including a backup camera, Intelligent Key with pushbutton start, Bluetooth and more. Given its tiny size, the Juke has never felt inexpensive, but the price increase for such popular equipment seems fair to me, and with the new customization options on deck for 2015, it feels like Nissan’s funky hatch is getting even more so – and judging by the model’s continued strong sales, that’s no bad thing.

As read on: http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/10/2015-nissan-juke-quick-spin-review/?ncid=edlinkusauto00000016

2015 Nissan Murano: First Drive

As we’re getting acquainted with the 2015 Nissan Murano for the first time, it’s eye-opening to note all that this mid-size crossover doesn’t have: There are no multiple drive modes here, no variable steering assist settings, and no steering-wheel shift paddles, no low range or towing mode either.

This is a vehicle that’s easy to figure out. You get in, and the driving interface is what most people are used to, yet with just the right gloss, gleam, blanketing, and buffeting.

And yet on the outside, it’s gloriously complex. It’s as much a rolling sculpture as some sports cars, and you’re turning heads, every step of the way. The Murano really is that good-looking—and something refreshingly different next to the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Edge, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

That aside, for the moment, the 2015 Nissan Murano feels like it was cleverly reverse-engineered to be exactly what it needed to be—stylish, comfortable, quiet transportation for empty-nesters, with plenty of capability to bring friends along.

There’s a lot more than a grain of truth to that. The second-generation Murano, which made its debut in 2009, never lived up to the sales numbers of the first-gen model—although in all fairness, the recession may have been more to blame.

Nevertheless, Nissan reached out to existing owners of the Murano and asked them what they wanted a future Murano to be. From that, “Provocative, Premium, Optimistic,” was the theme used to sum up the feedback. Owners wanted, above all, a vehicle that was visually striking yet sophisticated.

Straightforward in its mission, stunning in its presentation

And they sure did get it with the 2015 Nissan Murano. What makes this one of the most noteworthy new vehicles of the year from an otherwise straightforward, predictable template is the absolutely stunning exterior of this crossover.

In profile, in stance, and in the exterior details, the Murano follows very closely in the steps of the Resonance Concept that was shown at the Detroit Auto Show less than two years ago. And we can actually say we like the production car better, for its synergies in some of the design details, in the ‘boomerang’ design of the headlights and taillights, the ‘V-motion’ grille and hood sculpting, and in how the arched flare above its front wheelwell is echoed over the rear wheels, where the beltline pinches upward toward the ‘floating’ roofline in one of the most distinctive design cues.

The overall result is a vehicle that plays a multitude of visual tricks—appearing lower and far more sport-wagon-like than its predecessor. It’s unlike any other crossover, whether with a luxury badge or a mainstream one.

Murano owners wanted a vehicle that was even more daring in appearance, without giving up comfort. And they wanted even more refinement and features inside—with an interior that they could happily use to take other couples out on a date, or for a weekend-afternoon trip to Wine Country, for instance.

‘Jet Age’ interior inspiration—and no woodgrain, thank you

So Nissan reached out for something new, and sculpted the interior after the early jet age of the 1960s, “when travelers were pampered with luxury and flew with style,” elucidated Ken Lee, the senior creative manager with Nissan Design America, where the Murano was designed.

In short, we love the result. The wraparound look doesn’t limit interior space, and there are plenty of fresh details. For instance, there’s no woodgrain anywhere inside—no fake woodgrain either. Instead, there’s a brushed-metal style trim used for the interior beltline and door and console inserts; but even better, we’d choose the light-colored material that looks a bit like Mid Century Modern linoleum.

All the while, there’s a simple layout to the interior. Nissan has reduced the number of physical buttons from 25 down to 10, but used them where they make sense—like for the climate control—and there’s a straightforward infotainment system that responds well to navigation and infotainment needs.

In California’s Napa Valley region, during the #rainpocalypse this past week, we piloted several different front- and all-wheel drive versions of the Murano, finding it confident and surefooted—and perhaps more notably, finding the interior sublimely quiet and isolated from the gales and pouring rain.

Familiar goods under the hood

The Murano doesn’t have anything groundbreaking under the hood, but its familiar 3.5-liter V-6, making 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, feels quick, smooth, and relatively responsive with the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which is essentially a version of what’s used in the Pathfinder.

The Murano also doesn’t have the issue that affects a lot of its other CVT-equipped vehicles—sluggishness at lower speeds when you need a quick burst of power. Thanks to plentiful low-rev torque from this engine, it gathers speed quickly as the CVT lowers the ratio. And if you accelerate at more than half throttle (but not quite full throttle) you’ll find the transmission now follows some pronounced ‘gears’ along the way—as part of a so-called ‘D-step’ strategy.

The way the Murano rides and handles is very carlike, and much like that of a large sedan—albeit maybe with a little more body lean. The electrohydraulic rack-and-pinion steering has a good, relaxed feel on center, and it loads up nicely. One thing to keep in mind is that models with the 18-inch wheels handle just as well as those with the 20-inch wheels—except for a slight bit more precision in quick transitions. With the larger wheels, you do introduce more road harshness as well.

Composed ride, comfortable seats, conversation alley

In any case, the ride is composed and very comfortable. So is the seating, which has been conceived to be just as accommodating to those in back as in front. The so-called Zero Gravity design—for more back support—not only applies to the front seats but to the outboard seats in back. And while the front seats didn’t entirely win us over, those back seats we’d venture to say are best-in-class.

With a wide center console and those impressive seats, Nissan terms the middle area of the vehicle conversation alley; considering the quiet interior, you should have no problem catching up with back-seat passengers while cruising along.

Thanks to reduced weight and improved aerodynamics, the Murano is about 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the outgoing model, Nissan says. That leads to new EPA ratings of 20 mpg city, 28 highway for the entire model line—and our 24-mpg average over a mix of road conditions suggests you might see about that or better in real-world driving.

The Murano has always fit into a different place in the market than most of Nissan’s other vehicles. Like the Maxima, it’s more of a gateway to luxury-brand models; and in its best-equipped models, it’s a full-fledged luxury vehicle in all but the badge.

Top-of-the-line Platinum breaks into luxury territory

This year that’s underscored with the introduction of a new, top-of-the-line Platinum model that adds things like ventilated front seats, heated back seats, LED headlamps, and power-folding rear seatbacks. Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert is included, and on the Platinum and the next-highest SL you can opt for a Tech Package that adds Blind Spot Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, and Predictive Forward Collision Warning.

How does the Murano add up for value? That’s one we’re still pondering. In all, the top Murano SL and Platinum models feel like true rivals to the Lexus RX 350 or Acura MDX. But at about $46k for a loaded Platinum they’re not priced much higher.

We tend to think that the Murano S and SV models, with their low-to-mid-30s price tags, offer the strongest value of the lineup. That’s where you can actually stop focusing on what the Murano doesn’t have and instead relish what it does have: stunning good looks, an ease about the driving experience, and a true four-adult interior that might just remind you how much fun road-tripping can be.

As read on: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1095800_2015-nissan-murano-first-drive

First look: 2015 Nissan Murano keeps concept car lines

Third-gen crossover will have 20 percent better mpg, tuned CVT, lower drag

When Nissan introduced the production version of the third-generation Murano at the New York auto show this year, the crowds were somewhere between surprised and shocked that the undulatory exterior and wacky roof pillars of the concept hadn’t been dulled down in production trim the way most concepts are. The wavy forms down the side and the sloping roof were still there, no doubt terrifying the metal stamping machines at the beast’s Canton, Miss. production plant.

But that exterior contributes as much to the vehicle’s significant improvements as anything else. When it arrives in showrooms in December the Murano will be 130 pounds lighter, 20 percent more fuel efficient and its cd will have dropped by .06 to 0.31. All of those improvements are interrelated.

Nissan said it was able to lower the curb weight through design efficiencies and with the selective use of high-strength steel, particularly in areas beefed up for better side-impact protection. While no 2015 specifictions were released, if you knock off 130 pounds from the current Murano’s heft you get curb weights for the 2015 model that will range from 3693 to 4025 pounds. That’s less than V6-powered competitors like the Ford Edge and Toyota Venza but a little more than four-cylinder competitors like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Escape.

Turns out that sculpted exterior is functional, too. While the basic shape and proportions haven’t changed compared to the Resonance concept that debuted at the 2013 Detroit show, the surface of it has, up to an inch and a half here and there as needed for better laminar airflow. The new head- and taillights, as extreme as the rest of the shapes, help reduce drag, as well. The production model spent three times the number of hours in the wind tunnel compared to the 2014 Murano. That’s what it takes to get from 0.37 to 0.31 cd.

The standard Xtronic CVT transmission – the only one that will be offered – is more efficient, with reduced internal friction, Nissan says. As with the four-cylinder Altima and Rogue, the 2015 Murano CVT will get D-Step Shift logic to provide the illusion that it is a traditional automatic transmission. Faking shifts appears to reassure customers that there is nothing wrong with their trannies, and gives enthusiast drivers something to do going around corners. The D-Step shift algorithms come next to the Versa, Versa Note, Sentra, Altima V6, Pathfinder and Quest. It seems like there’s no going away from CVTs at Nissan.

All the above increases the 2015 Murano’s fuel economy from 20 EPA combined in the current vehicle to an estimated 24 in the coming ride.

That will be with virtually the same 260-hp, 240-lb-ft 3.5-liter V6 engine as before. That front- or all wheel-drive powertrain will provide 0-60 acceleration “in the sixes,” according to Nissan, though specific times have not been released.

Product planners described the new Murano’s interior as “premium social lounge” meant to “enhance the togetherness of front and rear passengers.”

“This is for the older empty nester couple and their friends,” explained senior product planning manager Scott Pak.

The Rogue is for young couples with one kid, the Pathfinder’s for families with two children, and when the kids finally leave the parents get a Murano.  The lounge aspect of that interior will be centered on what Nissan calls its “zero-gravity” seats. These feature three layers of urethane, grippy side bolsters and three (as opposed to the normal two) points of contact and support for your kiester. The front seats can be ordered as climate controlled meaning heating and cooling is available.

What used to be known as the instrument cluster but which is now known as the “drive assist display” is a seven-inch reconfigurable full-color screen. Over on the center console is an eight-inch capacity touch NAV display that helps reduce the number of so-called hard buttons from 25 to 10. It includes the popular pinch and swipe gestures that the kids love so much on their phones.

Safety features include: blind spot warning, cross-traffic alert, moving object detection, forward emergency braking and forward collision warning. Lane departure warning was not included in the new Murano’s options because Nissan said customers were not wanting it as much. (That’s corporatespeak for, “It drove people crazy!”)

Behind the second row of seats there is 7.8 more cubic feet of cargo space, a huge leap in capacity, especially considering that the new Murano is only 2.5 inches longer than the current one.

So that’s what we learned after we spent a day at Nissan’s Arizona proving grounds with a production prototype. Okay, we learned more than that but we can’t tell you. Driving impressions are under embargo till sometime around December. So despite having negotiated the high-speed oval, various rough-road surfaces and the really fun road course with whoop-dee-doos, expansion joints, frost heaves and manhole covers scattered at all the apexes, we can’t tell you whether the coming Murano crossover is really fun to drive or whether it blows. Sorry.

Look for more info in a few months.

– See more at: http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/2015-nissan-murano-updates#sthash.MeXpVZsF.dpuf