What to look for when buying a used Nissan Murano

Updated: August 15, 2013
2006 Nissan Murano
2006 Nissan Murano Photo: Nissan

Nissan was having financial problems in the late 90's. To prevent bankruptcy, Nissan entered an alliance with French car manufacturer Renault. The Murano was one of the first products of the new company vision. When the 2003 Murano came out in 2002, its large wheels and futuristic styling made it stand out from the crowd. Nissan calls it the "Urban SUV"; its name originates from Murano glass, a famous product of the Venetian island of Murano.
The Murano is a crossover SUV, based on the front-wheel drive Nissan Altima platform. The interior is roomy with upscale touches. Front seats are comfortable and supportive. The instrument panel with orange-backlit gauges is separated from the dashboard. Large doors offer easy access. Front visibility is pretty good; the rear view has blind spots in the corners, but the large mirrors help make up for that.

The 2003-2007 Murano was available as a front- or all-wheel drive. Two trims were initially offered: the base SL and sporty SE. The Murano SE included a sport-tuned suspension with firmer front and rear springs, manual shift mode, different alloy wheels, dark silver lower front bumper and HID headlights. The entry-level S trim was added for 2005.

2006 Nissan Murano
2006 Nissan Murano Photo: Nissan
2006 Nissan Murano interior
2006 Nissan Murano Photo: Nissan
2006 Nissan Murano rear seats folded
2006 Nissan Murano Photo: Nissan

Powertain: The only engine choice is the 245-hp 3.5L DOHC V6. It's the same VQ engine as in the V6 Altima, Maxima and Pathfinder. What separates the Murano from other V6 SUVs is a continuously-variable transmission, which is the only transmission option. The main component of a CVT is a steel belt running between two pulleys that can vary in size. Driving a vehicle with a CVT is a bit different: it's slower from the start and as you accelerate, gear ratio is changed gradually, without shifts. Read more: Pros and Cons of buying a car with a CVT transmission.

Fuel Economy: The Murano's fuel economy is not bad for an all-wheel drive V6-powered SUV. The 2003-2005 Murano with AWD gets 18 mpg city and 23 mpg highway on regular gasoline (13.1/10.2 L/100 km). The 2007 AWD Murano is rated at 17/23 mpg city/hwy (13.8/10.2 liters per 100 km) on premium gasoline.

Mechanical: The Murano's electronically controlled AWD system automatically sends the power to the wheels for more traction. The AWD "LOCK" function locks the front and rear axles at speeds up to 18 mph (29 km/h). 18-inch wheels are standard.

Safety: Antilock brakes, side and side curtain airbags and stability control are optional. In the NHTSA frontal crash tests, the 2003 and 2005 Murano received four stars for both the driver and the front passenger. The improved 2006 and 2007 Murano earned perfect five stars in the front and side crash tests, as well as 4 stars in rollover tests.

Handling and ride: On the road, the Murano is fun to drive despite its size. Thanks to large wide tires and firm suspension, the handling is sporty and well-controlled, with minimal body roll. The V6 offers plenty of power and is very smooth. The steering is light but precise. On the other hand, the ride is firm and some road noise is noticeable.

Advertisement - Continue reading below

Pros: Original styling, sporty handling, reasonable fuel economy, comfortable roomy interior, decent sound system.

Cons: Firm ride, road and engine noise, no seven-seat option, reliability issues in early models, maintenance and repair costs.

Overall: The Murano is not a bad choice for a city SUV. It is roomy, comfortable and fun to drive. However, we expect the maintenance and repair costs to be higher than average. Because of the CVT, the Murano is also not the best choice for towing. Read about common problems and what to look for on the next page.

Similar cars: