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12 December 2012

Business Class on Wheels | 2011 Nissan Murano 3.5L V6

Words and photos by Jose Carlo R. Sapera
 
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The first generation Nissan Murano arrived in the Philippines way back in 2006 via grey market importers. Powered by a 350Z-derived 3.5L V6, we thought of it as Nissan's very own sporty and classy crossover SUV -- it surely looked the part. Soon after, Nissan Motors Philippines Inc. (NMPI) got wind of this mighty SUV and began bringing it in themselves. But when it came to its successor, the Murano Z51, the local distribution switched over to Universal Motors Philippines (UMC), Nissan's local distributor of Light Commercial Vehicles. Technically, that shouldn't really change the buying and ownership experience, but we just wanted to get the word out. Now that we got that bit out of the way, we can start talking about the details.
 
This all-new 2011 Murano is based on Nissan's D-platform which it shares with the Teana. It has somewhat lost the old Murano's boy-racer appeal and now looks a lot more grown-up and sophisticated. Still, its unique futuristic styling makes it stand out from any crowd. So, does it still hold to its promise of being a classy crossover like before?
 
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Strike a Pose
This Murano looks good from all angles, as it follows Nissan's “sculpture in motion” design theme. During my drive, it turned quite a few heads, most probably because of its Darth Vader-inspired chrome front grill and projector headlights. There's also a pair of sleek-looking LED taillights and dual chrome-tipped mufflers to spice up the rear end. Meanwhile, the 18-inch rims provide more than enough bling for it to be replaced by aftermarket options.
 
Inside, there are plenty of plush appointments paired with the smell of fine black leather seats to keep anyone's senses happy. Then there's the brushed aluminum on the dashboard and chrome-ringed gauge cluster providing a good contrast to the otherwise dim interior. All the seats are not only nicely contoured, but they also proved to be very comfortable. Plus, passengers are assured to enjoy the bountiful head and legroom in offer. Although the large front windscreen provides a great view of what’s up ahead, the large c-pillar somewhat hampers rear visibility.
 
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As a music nut, I was truly excited to try out the Murano's 11-speaker Bose audio system. Sound quality was undeniably clear and crisp no matter what genre I listened to. It's also easy to switch through songs and adjust the volume level with the steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Then there's a centrally-mounted screen on the dash that not only displays music info, but also shows you air-conditioning controls, fuel efficiency figures, and maintenance updates.
 
The short rear overhang doesn't help the Murano in the cargo department. It does, however, have a unique luggage separator to keep grocery bags upright. Though it looks peculiar, it does the job well. Other luxury amenities include a power liftgate, engine start-stop button, power-folding side mirrors, headlight washers, and a dual panel sunroof.
 
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The Mighty Conqueror
My quick jaunt to the Easter mountains of Rizal proved the potency of its 3.5 liter VQ35DE V6 mil. It churns out 256 horsepower and 336 Nm of torque and is paired with Nissan’s responsive Xtronic Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT). But all this grunt does come at a price. Mixed city and highway driving achieves 6.0 to 8.0 km/l based on the on board computer. That's not so bad for a large crossover such as this, though.
 
Aside from the power on tap, the Murano also provides a very comfortable ride. The cushy suspension tirelessly absorbs the bumps from all the road works along the provincial highway, making the whole trip more pleasurable. Meanwhile, good insulation keeps the cabin silent, even at high speed.
 
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Safety at its Best
Six airbags, ABS with EBD, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) all come standard in the Murano Z51. And the all-mode 4x4i system that automatically engages when needed is just as handy as the reverse camera with park assist for parking in tight spaces.
 
It was indeed a bliss being behind the wheel of the new Nissan Murano which reminds me a lot of a relaxing business class trip. The P2,850,000 list price may not sound cheap at first, but with all its bells and whistles, the Murano is worth every penny. If luck strikes my soul, I’d be very honored to drive this great crossover once more, or perhaps own one in the near future.