2012 Nissan Murano

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Since its introduction, the Nissan Murano has been one of those vehicles that, at first (and second) glance is fairly polarizing – you either love its styling or hate it. To be perfectly honest I was not a big fan of the original styling. But Nissan pushed forward and evolved Murano with tweaks and improvements here and there and the latest edition scores significantly higher points.

The overall concept is still the same with the 2012 model as it was in the beginning: Offer a midsize car-based utility vehicle quite unlike others in its class while not forgetting Nissan buyers are attracted by performance aspects as well.

 The 2012 Nissan Murano is available in eight models: Murano S FWD, Murano S AWD, Murano SV FWD, Murano SV AWD, Murano SL FWD, Murano SL AWD, Murano LE FWD and Murano LE AWD. Murano is also offered in an innovative all-wheel drive convertible model, the 2012 Murano CrossCabriolet, which has been even more polarizing than the hardtop models.

 It takes a bit for folks to get used to the CVT transmission that does not shift gears but now that Nissan uses this technology in many of their offerings (along with other automakers) CVTs are gaining acceptance.

Mate it to the latest sporty VQ-series V-6 engine, tweak styling towards the seductive side and offer interior comforts and components usually reserved for luxury marques and we find ourselves staring at the Nissan Murano. By the numbers, power rating for the 3.5-liter engine has actually gone down five horsepower in recent years to 260 with torque coming in at 240 lb. ft.

 “With its contemporary exterior design, ‘mobile suite’ interior, advanced technology and refined, premium driving feel, Murano stands out as a modern crossover SUV like no other,” said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. “With the enhancements for 2011, there are even more reasons for consumers to put Murano on the top of their shopping lists.”

Murano is a solid contender. It is quiet, comfortable, easy (and fun) to drive, and features all of the latest in safety and convenience technologies. It lives up to its aspiration of being a “premium crafted crossover.”

 Our recent tester was a loaded top-of-the-line Platinum Edition LE FWD model with final sticker pricing at over – get this – 42 grand (at the other end of the scale, entry S models start under 30). Fuel economy figures of 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

 If you are looking for something fun to drive, check out Nissan’s Juke. If you aspire to something a bit more economical, they offer you Rogue. I recommend the Murano to folks cross-shopping V-6 powered midsize utes who love technology and comfort but don’t require the full capabilities of a Sport Utility Vehicle.

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