Friday, November 16, 2012

Wildcard Pick of the Month - Nissan Murano (2006-2009)

Our third wildcard pick would be a topic of interest since Myk Belmonte is also intrigued with this vehicle. Who knew this vehicle would put this manufacturer on the track because it looks so darn beautiful. Enough with the cheesy start, let's evaluate this car shall we?

2006-2009 Nissan Murano

In a sport utility vehicle, there is a trade-off between the sporty aspect and the utility portion. If the SUV emphasizes sporty driving and looks, you don't get to have two extra people to sit at the back and rear visibility is suckish. If we deal with the utility portion of the SUV, comfort is not in the vocabulary as well as refinement, but they are tops when it comes to maintenance costs.

The Nissan Murano is marketed as a sporty crossover than the utility aspect. Besides, if you are hunting a utility SUV in Nissan's lineup, you'll go with the Pathfinder right? It was designed in California and the Murano name came from a place in Italy, where hand blown glass is produced. If there was one car that steered Nissan in the right direction, this is the one. A VQ engine also utilized by the Maxima and Altima is kitted under the hood, style cues for both outside and some interior bits taken from the 350z, and styling that spectators never seen from any Nissan. It was sold from 2003 to 2007 internationally.

2006 saw the arrival of the Murano in the Philippines courtesy of Nissan Motors Philippines and along with the 350z, this Nissan brought new light to the carmaker. While 2008 saw the sales of the new generation Murano, we had this (albeit in limited quantities) until 2009, with the second gen's introduction in 2010.

Value and Costs
You may say that the Murano is overpriced at P2.6M during its time, but a closer inspection reveals that it was money well spent, with unrivaled levels of luxury and power for those shopping at this segment. And for second hand prices of P800,000-P1,200,000, you can get sports car driving with the added advantage of a high ground clearance at less price.

Maintaining this SUV would cost a bit higher than a Fortuner or Montero Sport, heck even more than a Patrol. Just remember to fill up the oil fluid levels, use a CVT fluid than a ATF, replace all wheels at the same time, and feed it with premium fuel than regular unleaded.

Exterior and Interior
Designers at Nissan believed in the "think out of the box" philosophy with using a design cue reserved for expensive sports cars. And Nissan succeeded in merging form and functionality in one package without having the final product different from what they wanted. You'll even say to yourself that the stylish shell was made in the Italian town known for hand blown glass, since it so damn beautiful.

Going inside, the interior is a cross between the 350z and the X-Trail. A fact, the Murano's wide and expansive dashboard has to be the automobile kingdom's deepest dashboard (if there is any claim to begin with). With that in mind, you could use it as a parcel tray and it looks similar as well, but remember not to place heavy items and extra buluroy on the car. To review the other parts, controls are logically located and within reach, plus other features that emphasize driver convenience include a one-touch backseat folding mechanism and a Bose audio system tops this off. Space for human beings are adequate in both quarters.

There is only one engine standard on all Muranos, and it is a VQ35DE 3,498cc V6 with 234hp at 6,000rpm and 318Nm at 3,600rpm. If this power and torque figures is too much power in some sedans, in the Murano it is just right to carry the two ton vehicle. And while we're at it, this particular engine also powers the 350z and the VQ engine family is usually included in the Ward's 10 Best Engines awards.

Driving Impressions
It may be heavy, but the engine does the job of hauling this SUV with that weight. The CVT transmission extracts every power available at any given time, but one must take time to learn the tricks on maximizing power available. Acceleration and handling are very similar to the sports car where it is based on, thanks to the rear suspension derived from the 350z. However, rear visibility is not a strong suit because of the chunky C-pillars.

You can buy a sports car, but forgo with the practicality and the other four passengers. But with the Murano, you and four other people can hop in and enjoy the 350z's driving characteristics. Just make sure you do have reserved funds for fueling this baby up.

The Good:
  • Stylishly good
  • Great performance
  • A great road companion
The Bad:
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Utility is less than sport
  • You can't fit seven people, just five
The Pick: Since there is only one variant, just get yourself a well maintained unit

Engine: 3,498cc VQ35DE V6 gasoline
Power: 234hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 318Nm @ 3,600rpm
Fuel Consumption: 4-6km/L (city), 9-11km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear multi-link

Price (New): P2,600,000
Price (Now): P800,000-P1,200,000
Rivals: Mazda CX-9, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Veracruz, Mitsubishi Endeavor
On Sale: 2006-2009

Nissan Mantrade - 812-6879
Nissan Gallery Ortigas - 635-5888
Nissan UN Avenue Manila - 400-1020

Photos courtesy of

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