Ever since Nissan’s reveal of the Murano mid-size crossover back in back in 2002, I’ve wondered how well its sleek, contemporary lines would age down the track. The answer to that is arguably, pretty damn good. Sure, some may lament it as a bulbous basket-case, however compared to its boxy competition, it was a breath of fresh air in a macho-image segment.
Fast forward to today, and the 2nd generation Murano is now starting to show some wrinkles in a fast evolving segment. Not to be outdone, the Japanese carmaker is applying final changes to the crossover’s successor. Shown here for the first time; those camo-clad test mules have been given the digital peel to reveal its bold future.
Starting at the front; the prominent, buck-tooth grille is toned down from the concept edition. Vertical chrome bars flank either side of it – helping to seamlessly incorporate the boomerang-shaped headlights. While nothing too radical is going on in the lower bumper, it’s the sheet-metal behind the front wheels where things really get interesting.
Making the jump from concept to production is the wave-like, side character line; starting from the tip of the headlights, over the fenders and towards the rear, it’s a sculptured design statement that’s daringly different.
Along the base of the doors, the effect is flipped upside-down, as opposed to most competitor vehicles where a straight-lined crease would simply span the wheel base.
Above the flowing shoulder lines is a side DLO (daylight opening area) that again takes cues from the Resonance Concept. This is strongly seen in the sharp up-kick over the rear wheels – eating into the rear quarter glass, along with its floating-roof configuration.
Out back, the hindquarters encompass dual exhaust tips, a chrome license-plate garnish and LED tail-lamps that mimic the boomerang effect of the headlights. These start outboard from the prominent side character lines and sweep upwards back into the tailgate glass.
While we’ve yet to set eyes on the whole interior package – glimpses to date reveal a dashboard arrangement that’s not too dissimilar to that found in the latest Altima mid-size sedan. One can expect more of a smooth, geometric-styled theme compared to the rounded shapes found in Nissans of old.
Like the Altima, advances in interior materials, equipment, comfort and packaging are all expected to be improved on. For the technophiles amongst us, features like NissanConnect will help you keep in touch with the digital world with app’s such as Facebook, text messaging assist, turn-by-turn navigation and satellite radio.
What Powers It:
If fantasies were free, I’d be shoe-horning in the Twin-Turbocharged, 3.8-liter V6 from the Nissan GT-R. However, back on earth and sans child-mode, the engine line-up will likely mirror that of the Altima.
So cue the well-proven VQ 3.5-liter V6 with its 270 hp, possibly sitting alongside a hybrid version with a smaller 2.5-liter supercharged inline-four. Don’t expect any quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission, but rather Nissan’s next-generation XTRONIC CVT. This unit is said to help with improvements in fuel economy, quietness and acceleration.
Platform & Handling:
As with most other competitor crossovers, the next generation Murano shares a common platform. This is called the ‘D platform’ which also underpins the Maxima, Altima and Pathfinder. It therefore serves as a good basis for a competent-handling chassis, aided by the sure-footedness of AWD.
For those who don’t live in polar vortex-like environment can also specify it in front wheel drive configuration, which will further help with weight and fuel economy for the eco-minded amongst us.
Sitting in the mid-size CUV segment, its biggest foes are that of the upcoming Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango (Ron Burgundy’s favorite) and Buick Enclave. If you want to be really ambitious you could also cross-shop with the VW Toureg – although it remains to be seen if the Japanese car-marker has the goods to go head-to-head with the Germans.
Sales-wise, something seriously wrong would have to happen if it sold poorly like the current Murano CrossCabriolet (certainly don’t expect Nissan to carry on with that model). The new version’s bold looks should help it trend upwards on those monthly sales stats.
Overall, Nissan has developed a rather compelling piece of kit, serving as a radical alternative to the main CUV opposition. Coupled with decent drivetrains, better interior packaging and standout styling; it may even sway a few punters new to the Nissan brand.
What do you think – does it look good or is it a blubbery mess? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion area below.
By Josh Byrnes
Photo Renderings Copyright: Carscoops / Josh Byrnes