Nissan’s strategy for both the 2019 Maxima large sedan and the 2019 Murano crossover is the same – make minor tweaks as part of a mild refresh.
My thoughts on the Maxima are stated here. As for the Murano, well, read on.
(Full disclosure: Nissan flew me to San Francisco, put me up in a beautiful hotel, and fed me some great meals. They left us with snacks and a candle – I ate the snacks but left the candle.).
Nissan considers the Murano a crossover for the kidless – or rather, those who have adult children who’ve left the home. It’s the “empty nester” CUV to go along with the Kicks (for singles) and the Rogue Sport (for singles/childless couples). The Rogue is for the small family, the Pathfinder for the bigger family, and the Armada for the biggest family.
Of course, this is all marketing projection by Nissan – I’m sure there are parents out there who drive a Rogue Sport or a Murano, or even a Kicks. Crossovers exist to basically be tall wagons, after all.
Safety matters to crossover buyers, whether in a family way or not, and just like with the Maxima, the Murano now has Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 available. It includes blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, high-beam assist, and rear automatic braking. Add standard rear-door alert, too. This system alerts you when you leave items on the rear seat.
Other changes include three new paint color choices (the Maxima adds just one), a bigger grille, updated LED headlamps and taillamps, new LED fog lamps, and new 18- and 20-inch wheel designs. Inside, you get leather with diamond quilting, and some trim and color updates. The available nav system gets some upgrades, as well.
Power still comes from a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, and it still mates to a continuously-variable automatic transmission. You can get front-wheel or all-wheel drive across all trims.
That engine is adequate if not overwhelming, and the CVT behaves relatively peacefully. The steering remains hefty but a bit numb. Constant corrections are needed, and the tires speak from a distance, when they communicate at all. A sports car on stilts, the Murano ‘tis not.
Not that it matters – many mid-size crossovers offer a numb driving experience, and the Murano is one of the least-worst offenders I’ve driven in this size class. There’s a hint of something here, even if merely a hint. It’s more engaging than an Edge or Acadia, although not as infused with personality as a Jeep Grand Cherokee or an Infiniti QX50.
Ride quality strikes a balance between soft and firm, making for a relaxed drive on the mostly pleasant California road surfaces. In other words, it’s boring but acceptable. Especially considering how crossovers are generally driven. The Starbucks run will not be a chore.
Interior quality is relatively upscale, although my test unit had some minor squeaks and rattles, even when the cupholders were emptied of bottles.
Head and leg room were fine for this tall tester, and like with the Maxima, the seats are all-day comfortable.
I mostly approve of the Murano’s exterior looks – I like the sloping hood, larger grille, and the side profile that appears to give this trucklet an aggressive stance. It’s still a bit on the anonymous side, as most crossovers are, but it’s stylish enough to make you think it’s sporty.
Other available features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, four USB ports, heated front and rear seats, panoramic moonroof, navigation, 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, premium audio, LED fog lights, and remote engine start.
There’s four trim levels: S ($31,270), SV ($34,440), SL ($39,230), Platinum ($43,530). Tack on $1,600 to each for AWD, and D and D isn’t part of that listing.
After undergoing a minor nip/tuck, the Murano remains what it was. That means a sporty looking, if not driving, crossover that won’t bore you on your commute, and feels upscale. It will work just fine for all but a handful of crossover shoppers. There’s worse things on the market.
If you care about driving but must drive a crossover, the Murano won’t be your first choice, but you could live with it.
That may be damning with faint praise, but I don’t mean it to be that harsh. This is simply a segment where priorities lie elsewhere. And the Murano is appealing when considered through that lens.
Status quo suits it just fine.
[Images © 2018 Tim Healey/TTAC]