NISSAN MURANO

The award-winning Nissan Murano boasts an eye-catching exterior and comfortable interior with a touch of elegance.

Now in its third generation, Nissan has upgraded its stylish Murano mid-size SUV, both inside and out, and added cutting-edge safety features to help take advantage of the national popularity for SUV sales.

The 2019 Nissan Murano recently won for the fourth time in five years the “Best 2-ROW SUV for the Money” by U.S. News and World Report magazine and Edmund’s rating service named it one of the Best Midsize SUVs for 2019.

That’s an advantage over Murano’s smaller sibling, the compact Rogue SUV, which outsells the Murano by a factor of 4 to 1 but lacks Murano’s power and panache. The smaller-sized utilitarian Rogue cannibalizes Murano sales, with more interior cargo space and costs $6,350 to $9,000 less. Nissan wants you to just buy one or the other.

Murano boasts an eye-catching exterior, comfortable interior with a touch of elegance; ample horsepower, driver safety aids and top crash safety ratings.

Top trim Platinum was our test drive with all-wheel drive, Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 system equipped with a drowsy driving warning and a new rear door alert to check the back seat for a child or restrained pet.

Premium sits above S, SL and SV trims, all powered by Murano’s mainstay 3.5-liter, 260 horsepower V-6 engine.

Built on Nissan’s “D” platform, shared with the midsize Altima sedan, Murano exhibits quickness from the starting line with an Xtronic continuous variable transmission with adaptive shift control flawlessly answering gas pedal requests.

Handling is responsive and tight with some minor lean-in turns. The ride is well-modulated with a front strut and rear multi-link independent suspension system.

Driver safety aids are cutting-edge, although the sloping rear roof decline hinders rear window visibility. Towing power is meager – 1,500 pounds.

Outside, our attention-getting Deep Blue Pearl Murano got a new grille and redesigned rear and front LED lights, with the base profile unchanged.

Inside, our Murano excelled with light, tan-colored diamond-quilted semi-aniline leather seats, piping on seats, armrest and center console amid wood and metallic upscale furnishings.

Seats were comfortable, rear seating spacious. Knick-knack spaces abound, including low trays in center spine and door handles.

The updated Nissan infotainment uses the same 8-inch touchscreen and Nissan Connect can access Alexa and Google, along with other tech assist features.

The CD player co-exists with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Visors extend; there is a spare tire.

LIKES: Rear seat space, power, ride, handling, looks, cabin luxury, quiet.

DISLIKES: Rear window visibility, low towing capability.

BOTTOM LINE: Murano remains good value with style and comfort pluses.

FACT FILE

2019 NISSAN

MURANO

PLATINUM AWD

Base price w/destination charge: $46,175 (as tested $46,420)

Vehicle weight: 4,137 lbs.

Wheelbase: 111.2 inches

Length: 192.4 inches

Width: 75.4 inches

Engine: 3.5 liters DOHC V-6

Horsepower: 260-hp at 6,000 rpm

Torque: 240 ft.-lbs. at 4,400 rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable transmission w/manual side shift

EPA rating: 20 mpg city/ 28-mpg hwy

Range: 19-gallon tank, regular

Performance: 0-60 in 8 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.