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First Oz drive: Nissan Murano smoothed over

Second time around: Nissan's new Murano has more conventional looks and better value.

Nissan’s luxury SUV is watered down in looks and price, but gains more features

19 Jan 2009

NISSAN has released the second-generation of its Murano luxury SUV, promising less polarising design and a more appealing price – up to $4000 less than the model it replaces – with many more standard features.

The original, introduced in 2005, did not take advantage of the boom in luxury SUVs to the degree that Nissan hoped. While Nissan had volume of 300 units in mind at launch in 2005, the first Murano sold not quite half that number.

Nissan expects the new model to take 200 sales a month, with 60 per cent of buyers choosing the Ti model over the entry-level ST.

The new Murano is built on the new D-platform, shared with the new Maxima and 370Z. It features a new multi-link rear suspension, while front strut suspension continues on.

Nissan claims unsprung weight has been reduced through the extensive use of aluminium.

Despite being built on a new platform, Nissan says the new Murano is the same width and height as before – 1885mm and 1730mm respectively – and also shares the previous generation’s 2825mm wheelbase. Body length has increased 65mm to 4835mm.

Nissan says it has taken steps to make the new Murano more aerodynamic underneath, with transverse rear muffler reprofiled to act as a diffuser, deflectors fitted in front of each wheel and fairings fitted over rear suspension components.

12 center image Nissan has measured torsional stiffness to be 45 per cent improved on the previous generation, and front lateral stiffness is improved 95 per cent.

Nissan claims noise and vibration levels are reduced 75 per cent each, achieved by the underbody aerodynamic work (reducing underbody turbulence), new noise deadening materials fitted to inner wheel arches (and thicker sound deadening material fitted to more of the cabin floor), and expanded foam blocks fitted to various points of the body.

Engine mounts have been revised for better noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) suppression. The previous four-point mounting system has been replaced with a six-point system with high rigidity brackets and additional torque rods.

Suspension changes include dual-rate dampers and the introduction of speed-sensitive steering, while the braking system now has the benefit of a tie rod on the brake servo to provide greater pedal rigidity and feel.

The Murano continues with the 3.5-litre version of the Nissan VQ35 engine, albeit a revised version that now develops 191kW at 6000rpm and 336Nm at 4400rpm, improvements of 19kW and 18Nm respectively.

Nissan claims the changes to the Murano’s VQ35 powerplant are extensive, including the improved cooling efficiency and reduced internal friction of internal components such as the valve lifters, which have Diamond Like Carbon coating, while the camshafts and the forged crankshaft have microfinished surfaces.

The VQ35 engine now has two knock sensors instead of one. A new resin intake manifold reduces weight.

The changes have yielded an improved acceleration figure of 8.0 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint.

Fuel consumption is claimed as 10.9L/100km for the combined cycle, with CO2 emissions 261g/km.

As before, the Murano uses Nissan’s All Mode 4X4i system, which channels 100 per cent drive to the front wheels in normal conditions, then directs up to 50 per cent to the rear axle when it detects slippage. There is also a lock mode, which splits drive 50:50 front/rear.

The off-road capability of the Murano was never intended to be Patrol-like, so ground clearance is just 185mm. Approach angle is 28 degrees, departure angle is 26 degrees and ramp-over is 14 degrees.

Up to speeds of 80km/h, the system works predictively, Nissan saying that it will monitor throttle position and engine torque and when deemed necessary will transfer torque to the rear wheels. At speeds of 80km/h and beyond, the system responds to wheelslip.

The only transmission offered in Murano is an improved version of the Constantly Variable Transmission used in the first Murano. Dubbed Xtronic CVT, the changes include low-friction bearings, revised seals that net a claimed 20 per cent reduction in unit friction.

Nissan has also made changes to the CVT’s shift-control CPU and its pressure control system.

New features include a stop-start button (with proximity key in the Ti) and auto-folding rear seat, which also have a power button to return the seatback to its upright position.

Cargo capacity is 402 litres with seats up and 838 litres with rear seats folded.

While a steel space-saver was fitted to the first Murano series, the new model benefits from a full-size alloy spare wheel, accessed from inside under the cargo floor.

Two models are offered in the new line-up: the entry ST model at $45,990 – $4000 less than the outgoing model – and the luxury Ti at $55,890 – $1100 less than the previous Ti.

Safety features for both models includes Vehicle Dynamic Control, ABS brakes with EBD, traction control, front, side and side curtain airbagsStandard inclusions for the ST model include Xenon headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather trim, power front seats (eight-way for the driver and four-way for the passenger) dual-zone climate control, six-CD stacker audio with auxiliary input jack and steering wheel controls, trip computer and cruise control.

In addition, the Ti has satnav with colour seven-inch screen, integrated rear-vision camera with predictive path technology, Bluetooth with steering wheel controls, Bose six-stack CD audio with MP3/WMA capability, rear cargo cover and luggage net, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, auto headlights, electric adjustment for steering wheel rake and reach, heated front seats, auto dimming rear mirror, power flip-up rear seatbacks, power tailgate opening, fog lights, black roof rails, electric mirrors and keyless start and entry.

Seven colours are offered on the new Murano: White Diamond, Precision Grey, Tinted Bronze, Black Obsidian, Deep Sapphire, Brilliant Silver and Burgundy.

2009 Nissan Murano pricing:
Murano ST (a) $45,990
Murano Ti (a) $55,890

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