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2009 Nissan Murano LE AWD Test Drive – Pure Smoooothness

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The original Nissan Murano, launched in 2003 as a 2004 model, set new standards for style and sportiness, as well as comfort and versatility, in the expanding mid-size cross-over sport utility vehicle marketplace. There was nothing before or anything after that came close to the Murano’s attributes.

The all-new, second-generation 2009 Murano elevates that unique position through a ‘super evolution’ of the original design-with a new exterior, interior and enhanced technology. Murano’s new premium driving feel results from a combination of a new advanced platform, continued refinement of Murano’s standard V6 engine, and new, second-generation Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission), which continues to be the best in class with it’s silent and strong operation.

“The 2009 Murano is an upgrade, not just compared to the previous generation vehicle, but the entire crossover SUV segment,” says Bill Bosley, VP and GM, Nissan Division.

“With its unique combination of modern design, dynamic performance, new ‘business class’ interior and overall refinement, Murano continues to stand out as the most distinctive and refined vehicle in class.” After seven days behind the wheel I can’t agree more with Mr. Bosley’s assessment, and here’s why I am fan of the Murano.

The original and unique body styling has been refined which gives it a more modern look yet keeps it truly unique and easily identified as a Nissan Murano.

Murano’s new front end features a more refined and distinctive grille treatment with wide front headlights-with available quad-cylinder style HID bi-functional projector headlights adding an even stronger and imposing view at night. Down below is a wide air-intake and integral skid plate. The new hood sweeps into the sculpted, dynamic bodylines, with pronounced wheel arches and 18in. standard and 20in. optional wheels providing a very aggressive stance and wider track. Integrated fog lamps are optional on SL and LE models.

The large chrome pull-out door handles, a lower chrome strip at the bottom of each door, and optional roof rails, with adjustable crossbars, add more functionality and visual accents. The redesigned rear end features a unique rear glass shape, a rear air deflector, and large, wrap-around horizontal LED taillights that accent the body side character line. Dual exhaust outlets with chrome finishers provide an appropriate visual cue as to the crossover’s potential power and performance.

New available exterior features include rain-sensing wipers, a power liftgate, enhanced RearView Monitor and a large, dual panel power sliding glass sunroof and 2nd row skylight-a new feature that gives an open-air experience for backseat passengers with compromising headroom.

Inside, the new Murano lives up to its ‘mobile suite’ design theme with an interior exemplifying warmth and modern style. From the sweep of the instrument panel, to the new telescoping steering wheel design, to the wide console and ambient lighting, you will feel a sense of warmth and security from the first time you open the door. When you do open the door you’ll be greeted with stainless steel scuff plates, and a roomy, comfortable, ergonomic, high-tech and safe cabin.

The visibility is excellent all-around you for ease of operation and safety. Murano’s new front seats have been designed for enhanced comfort and support. The 60/40 fold-flat rear seat has a pull-down armrest with dual cupholders and now features a convenient power return feature-the seat returns to the upright position with the touch of a button. Standard grab handles above each door make entry and exit easy and safe.

Heated seats are optional in the front and rear. Also optional are new double-stitched leather appointed seating surfaces and stick shifter for an inviting, luxurious feeling, an 8-way power driver’s and 4-way power front passenger’s seats and a driver memory system. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels great in your hand and features power tilt/telescope in the loaded LE model that I tested. The wheel also holds buttons for the audio, cruise-control, and hands free communication systems. Straight-ahead is the easy-to-see instrument cluster with three large, chrome-ringed ‘Fine Vision’ gauges and driver info screen for personalization and trip computer readouts. The new dashboard shelf can accommodate most items and the material and workmanship shows that Nissan really wanted the interior to be something special. All buttons, switches and dials are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safer nighttime driving. The center console is ringed with chrome as is the gate for shifting, and the dual cup holders and storage bin lie beneath easy opening spring loaded covers. The easy-to-use buttons and dial just below the 7in. screen are taken from the Infiniti models.

A variety of storage areas are provided throughout Murano’s interior, including standard dual-level center console, pockets for mobile phones, coins, maps, an extra large glove compartment and dual seatback pockets, as well as a large rear cargo area. Another new innovative Murano feature is an optional foldaway cargo organizer. When needed the organizer pops up with a push of a button from its hidden space below the floor and the top snaps into a vertical position, revealing a flat recessed space with removable, vertical partitions. The system helps stop cargo from rolling loose around the cargo area while driving. The storage is also ideal for wet or dirty items due to its easy-to-clean box floor. Other standard equipment inside my LE model all of the above options including a push-buttons ignition, auto door locks/power windows, dual climate control with air filtration, dual maps lamps, three 12-volt DC power outlets, HomeLink Universal Transceiver, sun visors with illuminated mirrors, overhead console with dual maps lamps and sunglass holder, interior wood trim, retractable cargo cover, 7in. QVGA color display, Bose audio/video system with 9-speakers and dual-speaker subwoofer, auxiliary audio/video inputs behind the center console, XM satellite radio, iPod connector and Bluetooth Hands Free Phone System with controls on the steering wheel. My loaded LE model also came with the following options-splash guards, dual panel sunroof, Nissan Navigation System with Hard Disk Drive Navigation plus the Bose Audio System is upgraded with 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive and Compact Flash Slot. This interior is as close as you can get to luxury territory. But what about power and performance, does it match up?

Yes indeed, as the new Murano features Nissan’s award-winning VQ Series engine-a revised 3.5 liter DOHC V6 making 265hp and 248lb.ft. of torque. The engine features a Twin Nissan Variable Induction Control System, microfinished camshaft and crankshaft surfaces, digital knock control system, high capacity mufflers and lightweight aluminum block and cylinder heads. This advanced V6 engine is mated to a new, advanced Xtronic CVT with Adaptive Shift Control that gives a sporty driving experience and the smoothness that only a CVT offers. Nissan’s CVT is one of the best I have ever tested.

There is never a ‘grinding or wining sound’, as you just push your foot on the throttle and away you go, rather quickly for a 4,400lb. crossover. On the open road you can cruise all-day at high speeds without a shutter or flutter from the engine or transmission.

All 2009 Muranos come standard with front-wheel-drive or with an optional advanced all-wheel-drive system that adjusts to road conditions in a tenth of a second. The intuitive AWD system connects the Murano Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system’s yaw sensors, wheel slip sensors and steering angle sensors with the AWD system. The system provides increased traction in all weather conditions by distributing engine torque depending on your intended direction and the actual direction of the vehicle. The VDC with a Traction Control System (TCS) for all-weather confidence comes standard on all models.

The new Murano features Nissan’s new, advanced ‘D’ platform that provides a solid foundation for crossover duties. This platform, which is similar to that used in the 2008 Altima, has been optimized for the Murano. The new platform gives the Murano one-of-a-half times more torsional rigidity than the first generation Murano, helping to improve noise, isolation and reduce vibration-benefiting the ride comfort of all passengers.

A smooth and controlled ride is enhanced with Murano’s standard four-wheel independent suspension with extensive use of lightweight aluminum that reduces unsprung weight. The new suspension design, with its cradle-type front subframe and multi-link rear design has improved geometry, large front and rear stabilizers bars, and increased stiffness. The suspension, in combination with high-performance dual flow path shocks helps provide sure footing in all surfaces and increased ride comfort on rough surfaces. Up front are struts, coil springs and a 25mm solid stabilizer bar while the multi-link rear setup features coil springs, shocks and a 20mm tubular stabilizer bar.

A new twin-orifice speed-sensitive power steering system, similar to the one used in the new Altima and 350Z, provides the proper level of assistance in around-town and high-speed driving. The system provides a direct steering feel, giving you more confidence when entering corners or driving at high speeds.

Slowing the Murano down is a snap thanks to large, vented, 4-wheel disc brakes. Up front are 12.6in. discs clamped with dual-piston calipers, and the rear features 12.1in. discs clamped with single-piston calipers. Braking control and force is enhanced with standard ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.

The all-new Murano rides on large, standard 18X7.5in. 6-spoke aluminum wheels wrapped with 235/65R18in. tires, or you can option for the 20X7.5in. titanium finished, aluminum wheels wrapped with 235/55R20in. tires.

Standard safety features include six airbags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact airbags, tire pressure monitor, 3-point safety belts with front pretensioners/load limiters, LATCH child seat anchors, front seats with active head restraints, and Zone Body Construction with front/rear crumple zones to help dissipate crash energy away from the passenger compartment.

The all-new 2009 Nissan Murano is defining what a proper crossover sport utility should come equipped with-a unique style, enough power and performance for a fun-to-drive ride, lots of passenger space, comfort, ergonomic, functional cargo storage, high-tech options and safety for you and your passengers. The Murano is at the top of the segment.
COPYRIGHT:2009:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: MSRP $37,260
Type: Midsize SUV
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Sport Utility Vehicles

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 188.5 in.
Width: 74.1 in.
Height: 68.1 in.
Wheel Base: 111.2 in.
Ground Clearance: 7.4 in.
Curb Weight: 4141 lbs.
Gross Weight: 5232 lbs.
Interior
Front Head Room: 40.1 in.
Front Hip Room: 54.8 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 59.6 in.
Rear Head Room: 39.4 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 58.7 in.
Rear Hip Room: 55.4 in.
Front Leg Room: 43.6 in.
Rear Leg Room: 36.3 in.
Luggage Capacity: 31.6 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 64 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Acceleration (0-60 mph): 8 sec.
Braking Distance (60-0 mph): 122 ft.
Base Number of Cylinders: 6
Base Engine Size: 3.5 liters
Base Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 265 hp
Max Horsepower: 6000 rpm
Torque: 248 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4400 rpm
Maximum Payload: 1091 lbs.
Maximum Towing Capacity: 3500 lbs.
Drive Type: AWD
Turning Circle: 39.4 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 21.7 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 18 mpg / 23 mpg / mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 390.6 mi. / 499.1 mi. / mi.

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