The 2014 Murano is offered in four different trims: S, SV, SL and LE. Each of them can be had with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but otherwise the powertrain is the same: a 260-horsepower, 3.5L double-overhead-cam V6, delivering power through a continuously variable automatic transmission.
The smooth V6 really fits the Murano's mission in feeling responsive yet relaxed and upscale, and the Xtronic CVT works better here than it does in many other CVT vehicles, keeping engine revs low during cruising yet raising them quickly for passing. A speed-sensitive power-steering system provides a confident feel, while the Murano's independent coil-spring front suspension (with a front subframe) and multi-link rear arrangement allow a nicely isolated ride yet reasonably crisp handling. Strong braking is handled by 4-wheel discs and a 4-channel anti-lock system with brake assist, to help apply maximum force in panic braking. Most Murano models include 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, but top-of-the-range Murano LE models upgrade to 20-inch alloys (optional on the LE) that do sacrifice some ride comfort.
The Murano's tall stance affords a high-set seating position that's just right for adults, making getting in and out easy and affording good visibility, especially in front. With a wide center console and ambient lighting, as well as rather wide, supportive front seats--along with smooth ride--the Murano is a good highway vehicle. Back-seat space is plenty spacious for two adults, although three can fit when needed; fold the 60/40-split rear seatbacks forward and you get an expansive, nearly flat cargo space for weekend errands.
With standard LED tail lamps, remote keyless entry, an Intelligent Key system with push-button start, 6-speaker audio and a 6-way adjustable driver's seat, even base Murano S models offer a lot of features. Yet mid-range SV models step it up with a 9-way power driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio switches, Bluetooth, an iPod interface, a universal garage-door opener and a wide-screen color display. SL models feel positively luxurious, with leather upholstery, heated front seats, power-folding seatbacks, HID headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors and an 11-speaker audio system. At the top of the range, Murano LE models bow with heated rear seats, a power-telescopic heated steering wheel with memory position and woodgrain interior trim.
Models with the navigation system include voice recognition, SiriusXM NavTraffic, NavWeather and Zagat restaurant guides, along with Bluetooth streaming audio; it's all accessed through a 7.0-inch wide-screen display. The Navigation Package that's offered on the Murano SL is packaged with Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Moving Object Detection accident-avoidance systems--all part of Nissan's new Safety Shield Technologies to help alert the driver of potential road hazards.