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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Nissan Murano is one of the elder statesmen of the mid-size crossover segment, having first appeared in 2002. The genesis of the current model, the third-generation Murano appeared in 2015 and received a comprehensive makeover inside and out for the 2019 model.
For 2020, Murano builds on that base with the addition of an extensive slate of safety equipment across three of the four three trim levels — SV, SL and Platinum. Bundled under the Nissan Safety Shield 360 banner the new features include Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking.
Other changes for 2020 include additional standard equipment on the volume-selling SV model. It now comes with an around-view monitor with moving object detection, intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and prevention, rear emergency braking and sonar, intelligent cruise control and traffic sign recognition.
The Murano stands apart from the pack visually with its V-shaped grill, flanked by signature “hockey stick” LED headlights and its sloping “floating” roofline. That attractive roofline cuts into head and cargo room as well as rear visibility. The latter is somewhat offset by a virtual, 360-degree, birds-eye view through four cameras.
Spec sheets indicate the Murano lacks cargo space, compared to the competition. But they measure this in cubic feet, and it is the sloped roofline that brings the lower numbers. Space below window level is comparable with the others. Only if you attempt to stack stuff to the roof does the Murano come up short.
I spent several hours and hundreds of kilometres retracing a portion of the legendary Route 66, at the wheel of a 2020 Murano in full-dress Platinum trim.
Beneath the hood lies the same 3.5-litre V6 that has powered Nissan and Infiniti products for 18 years. It has been continually upgraded over time and remains a strong and efficient source of motivation. In this application it produces 260 horsepower, and 240 lb.-ft. of torque. Saddled with more two tonnes of Murano, it has its work cut out for it. It takes more than eight seconds to reach 100 km/h, accompanied by a loud howl from beneath the hood as the continuously variable automatic transmission keeps it in the peak power-producing rev range.
Under all but sustained wide-open throttle conditions, the drivetrain is a smooth and silent companion. The Murano is in its element on long-distance runs on the open road, gobbling up those distances with ease and comfort. Contributing to this is a suspension that absorbs both major and minor blemishes with aplomb. The U.S. Interstate highway system has left Route 66 as an aged and abandoned way of crossing the western half of the country. The lack of upkeep is readily evident not only alongside the road, but on the road itself. The Murano took it in stride.
Inside is where the Murano shines, especially at this trim level. Luxury worthy of a much higher price point is evident everywhere you look or touch. The upscale environment starts with exceptionally comfortable and supportive “Zero Gravity” seats for front and rear outboard occupants. They are covered in supple leather with diamond-quilted inserts and contrasting micro-piping trim. The rear seat is also comfy but tall folks will find headroom comes up short. Soft leather covers the seats, armrests and door panels. There is a dash of dark wood spanning the width of the instrument panel.
The NissanConnect infotainment system, with navigation, Apple CarPlay, AndroidAuto and satellite radio is clearly displayed and operated via a 20-cm colour touch screen. Both USB-A and USB-C ports are provided including a pair for rear seat occupants.
The 2020 Nissan Murano is a comfy and attractive family hauler. It comes with an outstanding level of safety features, a proven drivetrain and at each step on the trim ladder luxurious touches.
Model: 2020 Murano Platinum
Engine: 3.5-litre, V6, 260 horsepower, 240 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel
Transmission/drivetrain: continuously variable automatic, all-wheel drive
NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 11.7 / 8.5
Length: 4,897 mm
Width: 1,916 mm
Wheelbase: 2,824 mm
Weight: 1,877 kg
Price: $32,898 (S) base, $46,498 as tested, plus freight
Competition: Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Explorer, Honda Passport, Hyundai Santa Fe and Pallisade, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sorento and Telluride, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, Volkswagen Atlas
Standard equipment: Platinum trim: 11-speaker Bose audio system, power tilt and telescope steering wheel with two-driver memory function, heated steering wheel and mirrors, 20-in alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, heated and cooled leather seats, heated rear seat, NissanConnect with navigation , Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 20-cm colour info screen with voice recognition, Satellite radio, dual zone automatic climate control, power windows, locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control, front and rear park sensors, power liftgate,
Options on test vehicle: none