2021 Nissan Murano

2021 Nissan Murano Review: More Than A Pretty Face?

by Gerhard Horn

The Nissan Murano feels old. Then again, you would expect some signs of aging after six years on sale and yet, subjectively at least, it seems as if it has been around for far longer than that. It may have all of the modern luxury and safety kit, as well as a stunning, swooping exterior, but it can't hide its old bones. It's a pity, as the first Murano was quite a trendsetter. It was one of the first crossovers that felt like it had more to offer than a tall body and a squishy ride. It was fun. You would not have felt cheated upgrading from a hot hatch to a 2003 Murano.

The current Murano still uses the same formula, that being an SUV body, a relatively powerful V6 from a sports car, and a CVT transmission. But you drive it, and you just want… more, especially when rivals include popular midsize alternatives like the new Toyota Venza and the Honda Passport.

2021 Nissan Murano Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Nissan Murano?

While the driving experience is outdated, we have to applaud Nissan for continually updating the Murano to at least attempt to keep up with the competition, at least from a style, safety, and luxury perspective. For 2021, Nissan is adding its Safety Shield 360 with automatic rear braking as standard across the entire range. The SV Premium Package has been replaced with a new Special Edition Package, and three new colors have been added to the existing palette.

Pros and Cons

  • It's a stylish crossover
  • High-quality interior
  • Loads of passenger room
  • Generous specification across the range
  • Infotainment system is easy to use
  • Frugal for a car with a V6 engine
  • It's not fun to drive
  • CVT drags the engine down
  • Low tow rating

Best Deals on Murano

2021 Nissan Murano Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$32,610
SV
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$35,740
SL
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$40,110
Platinum
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$44,160

Murano Exterior

The exterior of the Murano is its most redeeming feature. It looks like nothing else in the segment, thanks to Nissan's signature V-Motion grille, angular headlights, and swoopy side profile. LED headlights and taillights are standard, as are LED daytime running lights. The alloy wheel options are also handsome. The S and SV are equipped with 18-inch wheels, while the SL and Platinum ride on 20-inch wheels. The Platinum model comes with a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, available as an optional extra on the SV and SL models.

2021 Nissan Murano Front View Nissan
2021 Nissan Murano Front Angle View Nissan
2021 Nissan Murano Rear Angle View Nissan
See All 2021 Nissan Murano Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Murano is positioned as a mid-size crossover, but it's dimensions are slightly more substantial than you'd expect. It has an overall length of 192.8 inches and a wheelbase of 111.2 inches. The Murano has a width of 75.4 inches and is 67.8 inches tall. It provides a nice view of the surroundings, but the minimum ground clearance is rated at a decidedly average 6.9 inches, so it's not an SUV that you'd want to use off-road. The lightest model is the front-wheel-drive S with a curb weight of 3,823 pounds. The heaviest model is the Platinum with an all-wheel-drive system, weighing 4,137 lbs.

  • Length 192.4 in
  • Wheelbase 111.2 in
  • Height 67.8 in
  • Max Width 75.4 in
  • Front Width 64.6 in
  • Rear Width 64.6 in
  • Curb Weight 3,823.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

A total of nine colors are available for 2021, but their availability varies by trim. The new colors include Magnetic Black Pearl, Boulder Gray Pearl, and Scarlet Ember Tintcoat ($395). Brilliant Silver Metallic, Gun Metallic, Mocha Almond Pearl, and Deep Blue Pearl are carried over from 2020. Pearl White TriCoat retails for $395 and is available on all trim levels. Scarlet Ember Tintcoat and Sunset Drift are also a $395 option and only available on upper trims. Mocha Almond Pearl, Scarlet Ember Tintcoat, and Boulder Gray Pearl aren't offered on the entry-level version.

  • Magnetic Black Pearl
  • Gun Metallic
  • Deep Blue Pearl
  • Brilliant Silver Metallic
  • Pearl White Tricoat
  • Scarlet Ember Tintcoat
  • Sunset Drift Chromaflair
  • Mocha Almond Pearl
  • Boulder Gray Pearl

Murano Performance

The Murano is equipped with a 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 engine. Nissan fans will know it well by now, as it has been in use for a while. In the current Murano, it produces 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. It's a bit down on performance against its main rivals, most of whom have gone the turbocharged route. The Ford Edge is a prime example. Its base 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-pot delivers 250 hp and, more importantly, 275 lb-ft of torque.

Take it for a test drive and you'll notice that the Nissan's V6 has loads of character and a pleasing soundtrack, but it doesn't provide that initial surge of power that you get from a turbocharged engine. The Nissan likes to build speed by providing a linear surge of power rather than dumping all of it to the wheels within a few short seconds.

The result is an independently tested 0 to 60 mph time of 7.3 seconds in all-wheel-drive guise. This isn't bad, but neither is it class-leading. If you have a lot of time and space and aren't worried about putting your driver's license in jeopardy, you can reach a top speed of around 120 mph. A front-wheel-drive model is available as well. Despite its engine size, the Murano only has a tow rating of 1,500 lbs. The Ford easily beats it in this category with its 3,500-pound tow rating.

2021 Nissan Murano Driving Front Angle Nissan
2021 Nissan Murano Forward View Nissan
2021 Nissan Murano Wheel Nissan

Engine and Transmission

The Nissan's 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 engine is partly the reason why it feels dated. It has been around for more than a decade, and even though Nissan keeps on refining it, it feels like they've now reached a point where they can do no more. It develops 260 hp and 240 lb-ft, a perfectly adequate number of horses to power a crossover, but it starts falling apart a bit when you compare it against more modern powertrains. For example, Ford can get 335 hp out of a much smaller turbocharged V6 engine which is on offer in its Edge crossover.

The power delivery in the Murano is much smoother than the turbocharged unit found in the Ford, though. The Edge ST struggles to provide a linear power delivery and doesn't like to be revved. The naturally-aspirated V6 in the Murano doesn't mind being revved at all. It's silky smooth to the rev limit, with no apparent gaps in the powerband.

The other reason why the Murano no longer feels as athletic as it once did is the Xtronic CVT transmission. Once again, it's a piece of engineering Nissan has been refining for several years, but it's still nowhere near perfect. It provides a nice burst of initial acceleration that's perfect for city driving, but after that, it falls flat. Asking it to accelerate to highway speeds results in that terrible droning sound and the sensation of a slipping clutch.

  • Engine
    3.5L V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

In terms of handling, the Murano has moved away from its predecessors. It's exceptionally good at soaking up bumps, but there's not even a hint of sportiness to be found. This is disappointing because the first Murano's main USP was its handling characteristics. It wasn't as soft as the current model, but the ride was perfectly acceptable. It was also an enjoyable thing to drive, being one of the first SUVs that handled well.

The current model is a mixed bag. It's comfortable and compliant, but the steering is devoid of feedback and quite weighty. Nissan tried to engineer too many characteristics into one car, and the result is a crossover that doesn't shine in any particular area. Together with the V6's only adequate outputs and the CVT's sometimes frustrating characteristics, the Murano isn't the most exciting vehicle to drive in its segment.

Murano Gas Mileage

Both the FWD and AWD Muranos have the same EPA-estimated gas mileage figures. Rated at 20/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined, you can see the CVT transmission's benefits. The FWD Ford Edge with the 2.0-liter turbo has an EPA rating of 21/29/24 mpg, but the AWD 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost is rated at 19/25/21 mpg. While you can see the benefits of the CVT, which helps the larger-capacity Murano V6 get close to the consumption of the smaller turbocharged engine in the Edge, we can't help but wonder whether we'd be willing to sacrifice those few gallons for a more responsive engine/gearbox combination. With its 19-gallon gas tank, the Murano will manage a range of around 437 miles in mixed driving conditions.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    19.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 20/28 mpg
* 2021 Nissan Murano S FWD

Murano Interior

The Murano crossover has an upscale yet unimaginative interior. We do like the center console design, however. It mimics the V-Motion grille, and it's always nice to see an external design feature carried through to the inside. Other than that, it's pretty straightforward. The controls are all exactly where you expect them to be. The infotainment system is a bit outdated, but it does have all the modern features. It's also well-equipped across the entire range, as you shall shortly see. While it may not be striking to look at, there's something to be said for a high-quality interior that feels familiar.

2021 Nissan Murano Central Console Nissan
2021 Nissan Murano Front Seats Nissan
2021 Nissan Murano Gearbox Controls Nissan
See All 2021 Nissan Murano Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

This isn't a 7-seater SUV so the Murano can accommodate five adults in sufficient comfort. The rear headroom might be a bit tight for some, but 39.8 inches (37.8 inches with a moonroof) should suffice for most. The front headroom is 39.9 inches and 38.1 inches with a moonroof. Legroom is ample all-round. Front passengers get 40.5 inches, while rear passengers get 38.7 inches. The Murano's low ground clearance makes it easy to get in and out. Visibility is slightly compromised due to the Murano's more powerful design features, but with Nissan's advanced safety suite as standard, it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 40.5 in
  • Front Head Room 39.9 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.7 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.8 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The S model's seats can only be upholstered in Graphite Cloth. The SV grade allows you to choose between Graphite and Cashmere cloth, but you can upgrade to leatherette in the same colors by opting for the all-new Special Edition Package, although this will add $2,530 to the bill. This package also includes seat heating for the front seats. The SL trim comes with real leather, also available in Graphite or Cashmere. Finally, the Platinum trim comes standard with beautiful semi-aniline leather and adds Mocha to the color options. The Graphite trim is coupled with metallic trim, while Cashmere seats are combined with traditional light wood. The Platinum model comes with its own unique dark wood trim. It's worth mentioning that not all interior colors and trims are compatible with all exterior colors. The best way to figure out if you can have the spec you want is to play around on the configurator. If you want a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, you'll have to skip the entry-level version.

Murano Trunk and Cargo Space

The Murano's trunk is not as big as you might expect, likely due to the ample legroom offered to rear passengers. It's rated at 32.1 cubic feet without the moonroof fitted (31.1 cubes when it's included), which is seriously sub-standard compared to rivals like the Honda CR-V (39.2 cubic feet) and Nissan's own Rogue (36.5 cubic feet). Though it's small compared to its competitors, 32.1 cubes is still enough for most needs. That's easily enough room for a month's worth of groceries, but it might be a bit tricky to fit a family of five's luggage in there. The rear seats can be folded flat in a 60/40 split, resulting in 67 cubic feet (65 cubes with moonroof) of cargo capacity.

The glove compartment is larger than average, but some of the interior storage spaces are a bit too small for all the stuff a person needs to carry along these days. The storage bin underneath the front armrests is large enough for a couple of average smartphones, which is where they should be. Unfortunately, we do live in a world where people check their phones at every traffic light so you end up storing it in one of the two cupholders up front.

2021 Nissan Murano Dashboard Nissan
2021 Nissan Murano First Row Nissan
2021 Nissan Murano Sunroof Nissan

Murano Infotainment and Features

Features

Nissan did a good job equipping this SUV. It feels more luxurious than the base Nissan Murano price would have you believe, and it gets achingly close to Infiniti levels of luxury. Every model in the lineup is equipped with Nissan's Safety Shield 360, including auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert, intelligent lane intervention, high beam assist, and automatic rear braking. All models are also equipped with drowsiness detection. That's already plenty to brag about. The entry-level model is equipped with keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, and three 12-volt power outlets, as well as four USB charging ports. The SV trim adds a remote start function, a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat with two-way power lumbar support, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. The SL trim adds heated seats front and rear, driver seat memory, and a heated steering wheel. The Platinum trim includes superb leather seats and a dual-panel moonroof.

Infotainment

The infotainment offering in the Murano isn't as quick as some other systems out there, but they're easy to understand and come with all the essential connectivity functions. The eight-inch color touchscreen display has Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The standard sound system is a six-speaker system that does a reasonably good job. An auxiliary jack is standard, and you get four USB ports. The SL trim adds navigation, SiriusXM traffic, HD Radio, and an 11-speaker Bose sound system.

Nissan Murano Problems and Reliability

In this area, the Nissan Murano reliability ratings should provide plenty of peace of mind. The 2021 Nissan Murano received 84 out of a possible 100 points from J.D. Power. It scored a "great" rating across the four major categories, including quality and reliability. According to the NHTSA, there were no recalls for 2020 and one recall for 2019, which was for the reverse camera not displaying images on the infotainment screen. The Murano was also recall-free in 2018 and, so far at least, the 2021 model has not been recalled. Nissan includes a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty with roadside assistance. The powertrain comes with a five-year/60,000-mile warranty.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

Nissan Murano Safety Reviews

In prior Nissan Murano safety reviews - specifically 2018 - the FWD model scored four out of five stars, while the AWD model scored the full five stars from the NHTSA for crashworthiness. Things have improved since then, and in 2021, both Murano derivatives scored the full five stars. There's more good news from the IIHS, with the 2021 Murano receiving maximum Good scores in every crashworthiness test.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

The new Nissan Murano claws back some serious points in this department. As standard, every model in the range features ABS, EBD, stability and traction control, and ten airbags. Top spec models are also equipped with traffic sign recognition and a surround-view camera, whereas lesser trims have a rearview camera. The show's real star is Nissan's Safety Shield 360, which includes auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and automatic rear braking. From a safety perspective, the Murano is a vehicle that doesn't disappoint.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Nissan Murano a good car?

Back when it was brand new and the market wasn't oversaturated with mid-size crossover and SUV offerings, the Murano was an excellent SUV. It was everything you could want from a vehicle, and it was good fun.

Somewhere along the way, Nissan strayed from the formula. The Murano is a car that became more about interior comfort, a perfectly acceptable route to follow, but some of the sporty characteristics remained. The heavy steering, for example. While this was appealing on the older, sportier Murano, it's become more of an annoyance on the 2021 model as other crossovers are more relaxing to drive.

Nissan has kept the Murano up to date when it comes to tech, but we wish they had done the same with the drivetrain. Compared to the Ford Edge, the Murano feels a generation behind.

If the market was smaller, the Murano might have been more competitive, but it's not. With every new model launch, the Murano slips one step further down the ladder.

🚘What's the Price of the New Nissan Murano?

The cheapest new Murano is the entry-level S, which has an MSRP of $32,610 in the USA. The most expensive model is the Platinum with Nissan's Intelligent AWD system, with an MSRP of $45,710. Every trim level is available in front-wheel drive. The SV starts at $35,740, the SL at $40,110, and the Platinum at $44,160. Every Nissan Murano will cost $1,550 more with the Intelligent AWD system. These prices exclude Nissan's destination charge of $1,150 in the US.

2021 Nissan Murano Models

The Nissan Murano is available in four trim levels: S, SV, SL, and Platinum. All are powered by the same 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 engine with 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque on tap. The power is transferred to the front wheels via a CVT transmission, but there is an all-wheel-drive option available for every trim level, retailing at a cost of $1,550.

The base Nissan Murano S model comes with 18-inch alloys along with LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights. Luxuries include keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, black cloth seats, dual-zone climate control, an eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, four USB ports, three 12-volt outlets, and a six-speaker sound system.Nissan's Safety Shield 360 is standard across the entire range. It consists of auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and automatic rear braking.

The SV adds intelligent cruise control, a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat, remote engine start, LED fog lights, roof rails, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter.

The SL trim gets real leather trim with heating for both the front and rear outboard seats, while the steering wheel is also heated. Exterior wise, it adds 20-inch alloy wheels. The infotainment system is upgraded to include navigation, and SiriusXM Traffic. The six-speaker sound system is replaced with an 11-speaker Bose system. It dials the safety up a notch by adding a surround-view camera and traffic sign recognition.

The top-spec Platinum lives up to its name by adding semi-aniline quilted leather seats with heating and cooling in front. The steering column in this model is power-adjustable, and a dual-pane moonroof is included as standard.

See All 2021 Nissan Murano Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The base S model doesn't have any optional packages but rather a host of standalone options you can add such as a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror for $215. The SV model has a new optional package called the Special Edition Package, and it retails for $2,530. This package brings it in line with models higher up in the range, as it consists of a dual-pane moonroof, surround-view camera, leatherette seat upholstery, heated front seats, 20-inch dark alloy wheels, and Special Edition badges. The SL can be ordered with a Moonroof Package, which deletes the silver roof rails and adds a dual-panel moonroof for $1,420.

There are no optional packages for the top-spec Platinum either. However, there are some snazzy alloy wheel options to choose from, retailing from $413.

🚗What Nissan Murano Model Should I Buy?

The Murano SUV isn't a sensible purchase. Some other crossovers and SUVs do a lot more for a lot less. For proof, look no further than Nissan's Rogue, which offers more practicality at a much better price. An all-new Rogue is now available, and it makes the Murano even more redundant. Since the Murano is an emotionally-driven purchase and not a logical one, you might as well go all in and get the ultra-plush Platinum model.

2021 Nissan Murano Comparisons

Nissan Rogue CarBuzz
Ford Edge Ford
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Nissan Murano260 hp20/28 mpg$32,610
Nissan Rogue 181 hp27/35 mpg$25,750
Ford Edge 250 hp21/29 mpg$31,100

2021 Nissan Murano vs Nissan Rogue

The Rogue doesn't technically compete in the same segment, but it has similar interior space and a larger trunk. It's also nearly as lavish and far more frugal thanks to a less powerful naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The all-new Rogue also has a striking exterior and interior. If anything, it looks even better than the Murano. The new interior and the features that adorn it are bang up to date. For an entry-level Murano price, you can have a well-specced Rogue with an eight-inch touchscreen and customizable instrument cluster. The only reason you'd buy the Murano over the new Rogue is the power, but looking at what the new Rogue offers, we'd be hard-pressed to give it all up for a few horses.

See Nissan Rogue Review

2021 Nissan Murano vs Ford Edge

The Ford Edge is closer in price to the Nissan Murano. It's also more comparable in power output thanks to 250 hp and 275 lb-ft outputs from a modern, turbocharged four-pot engine. You can even get a go-faster ST model with a turbocharged V6 offering 335 hp. The 0-60 mph times are relatively similar, but the Edge sprints ahead if you opt for an all-wheel-drive derivative while the ST is far quicker than the Murano.

The Ford is also bigger, with more space for passengers and more cargo room. Ford's SYNC infotainment system is also much better and easier to use. The only thing the Edge doesn't have is a V6 engine unless you opt for the ST model, which has no direct rival in the Murano range. In every other way, it's a better car.

See Ford Edge Review

Nissan Murano Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2021 Nissan Murano:

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$32,610 - $45,710
Price Range (MSRP)
Nissan Murano
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