Slick so­lu­tion for the city

Pret­ty­ing up box-like 4WD cre­ations lifts their city ap­peal

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Review - GRAHAM SMITH graham.smith@cars­

MOST four-wheel-drives look great bash­ing through the bush but they’re not so at­trac­tive cruis­ing our city streets, as most do.

When that re­al­ity struck home at car cen­tral the boffins hit on the idea of pret­ty­ing up their box-like cre­ations to make them more ap­peal­ing to city slick­ers.

Ve­hi­cles such as the Nis­san Murano were the re­sult. They are equipped with de­cen­t4WD sys­tems but don’t look out of

place in town.

MODELWATCH The Murano com­fort­ably slot­ted into the cross­over scene along­side cars like the Toy­ota Kluger, Holden Ad­ven­tra and Ford Ter­ri­tory, but took the con­cept to a higher level.

It looked even less like a clunky 4WD than any of its ri­vals, with a slinky, wrap­around shape that clearly set it apart.

Housed within the swept­back sheet metal was the same sweet 3.5-litre V6 that pow­ered many Nis­san mod­els, most no­tably the 350Z sports car. In the Murano it was ca­pa­ble of 172kW at 6000rpm and 318Nm at 3600rpm.

The smooth-revving V6 is a rev­e­la­tion af­ter the clunky old nails that lurk un­der the bon­nets of some of its ri­vals.

Back­ing up to the V6 was a CVT con­tin­u­ously vari­able belt­drive trans­mis­sion. Such trans­mis­sions lack the usual steps of a fixed-ra­tio trans­mis­sion but, at the same time, the Murano’s man­ual shift op­tion mim­icked a six-speed for a more ‘‘ nor­mal’’ drive feel.

Fi­nal drive was through all four wheels us­ing a ver­sion of Nis­san’s in­tel­li­gent All Mode 4x4 sys­tem as found on the Pathfinder.

The sys­tem has two set­tings, Auto and Lock, the for­mer a setand-for­get deal that op­er­ates as a front-wheel drive for most of the time, but when sen­sors find wheel slip­page drive is sent to the rear axle as needed.

In Lock the sys­tem is per­ma­nently locked in 4WD mode to han­dle more de­mand­ing con­di­tions.

The ride is smooth cour­tesy of in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion all round, ABS con­trols disc brakes at each cor­ner and the steer­ing is power-as­sisted.

Rear vi­sion is lim­ited by the curvy shape and driv­ers have to be cau­tious when chang­ing lanes or re­vers­ing.

City and the bush: The Murano’s slinky shape cloaks a ca­pa­ble4WDsys­tem

Comfy in the cock­pit: The feel be­hind the wheel is much like a smaller car

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