Outside the boxy
When people talk of thinking outside the box they must be referring to the SUV, the ultimate automotive box. With the Murano, Nissan changed the way we look at them.
Anything but box-shaped, the Murano had contemporary lines you associate more with regular passenger cars. That’s the point with the Murano — it’s more a fully featured highriding car for town-bound people rather than those wanting to travel far and wide.
The Murano first appeared in 2004 and set the tone. The Z51 series that lobbed in 2009 continued the theme with even more luxury.
It was an evolution of the previous Z50 yet every panel on the Z51 was new, the grille and headlights were new and so was the cabin.
It was based on the same platform as the Maxima sedan but at 1800kg and 4.8 metres long, it was quite a large wagon. The upside: the cabin was rather spacious. There was plenty of legroom front and rear, and there was decent amount of luggage space as well. If you folded the rears you got even more cargo space.
The Murano didn’t get a safety rating from ANCAP, or a European one for that matter, but it was well equipped to handle an awkward situation with a raft of safety features including electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assistance, and six airbags.
There were two versions, the ST entry model and the full of fruit Ti.
The ST came with standard aircon, cruise control, power seats, six-speaker CD sound, MP3 and trip computer.
Step up to the Ti and you got satnav, reversing camera, power folding seats, power tailgate, driver’s seat memory, keyless entry, premium Bose audio, Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers, roof rails and fog lights.
Both models ran a 3.5-litre V6 (191kW/336Nm). The performance wasn’t exhilarating but it sufficed while returning 10.9L/100km between fuel stops.
A constantly variable transmission, the sole gearbox, had six preset change points to make it feel more like a conventional gearbox.
The high driving position and good vision all-round made the driving experience pleasurable, and with its light steering it was relatively easy to park. Murano owners report they are generally happy with their cars. Some heap high praise on them, which should give second-hand shoppers confidence to proceed.
Owner reports tend to be on limited rather than widespread issues. They’re worth noting but don’t justify too much concern.
There are a few things to be aware of when thinking about buying a Murano.
The first is the engine. It’s a gem, silky smooth and with heaps of power and torque, but at 3.5 litres it’s a large capacity job in today’s terms when makers are moving to smallercapacity turbos for power and economy.
Combine that with a vehicle that weighs 1800kg and you’ve got the perfect recipe for high fuel consumption, and at 10.9L/100km claimed average the Murano is clearly thirsty.
You also have to factor in that Nissan says it’s best run on premium unleaded, another slug to the hip-pocket.
The CVT has preset change points to make it drive more like a conventional automatic but it’s still a quirky bit of kit that can be troublesome.
It’s important to give the transmission a thorough workout to highlight any driveability issues it might have, those typically being shuddering, surging, hesitating or jerking.
Nissan recommends servicing the Murano every 10,000km, and changing the CVT oil every 100,000km — it’s important that these are followed. To confirm this, check the service record of any car you’re considering.
It’s also worth noting the reports of expensive servicing and poor customer relations from dealers. Owners say these have soured their experience.
I’ve had my Ti five years and absolutely love it. I love everything about it, even the CVT. The only thing I would criticise is the cost of servicing.
I bought my Ti in 2011 and love it. It looks great, has heaps of legroom and is quiet on the road.
The Ti is great to drive, the engine is powerful, the interior is luxurious and it has all the trimmings.
I had to replace a leaking head gasket on my 2010 ST at 80,000km. It was out of warranty and cost me $3000, which I think is unacceptable.
The only issue I’ve had with my 2013 Ti has been with the satnav, which didn’t work. I’m happy with the car apart from that but I’m not happy with the treatment I’ve had from the dealer.
I’ve done 162,000km in my 2009 Ti and it still drives like new. It’s great.
I’ve owned two Ti Muranos. The first one had rattles and noises from the day I bought it, plus the Bluetooth didn’t work. The dealer couldn’t fix it. I traded it on another one two years ago and now the CVT is giving trouble. What makes it worse is the way Nissan treats you when you have a problem. I won’t buy another one. A big barge for city dwellers but it’s stylish, comfortable and full of features.