Used Vehicle Review: Nissan Murano, 2009-2014

Vehicle Type

Crossover SUV

History/Description

When originally launched, the Nissan Murano quickly became one of the crossover marketplace’s most sought-after models where performance, sophistication and unique, cutting-edge styling were priorities. With the third-generation Murano shipping to dealer lots now, the second-generation of this popular crossover has now transitioned into used vehicle territory.

All units in this generation got a 260 hp version of Nissan’s 3.5L V6 engine, teamed with a Continually Variable Transmission for enhanced smoothness and fuel efficiency.

An overall blend of comfort, performance, handling and smoothness is commonly noted by second-generation Murano drivers.

The silky-smooth V6 was connected to a standard intelligent All Wheel Drive (AWD) system, and features like Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and a Traction Control System (TCS) were both standard for enhanced control in a variety of conditions.

Feature content on a used Murano may include up-level features like navigation, heated leather seats, a dual-panel power glass moonroof, and premium audio system with hard-drive music storage. A keyless ignition system, Bluetooth phone interface and automatic climate control system help maximize convenience and comfort on any trip, too. A powerful xenon projector lighting system, rain-sensing wipers and a back-up camera system round out the features list with optimal visibility.

What Owners Like

An overall blend of comfort, performance, handling and smoothness is commonly noted by second-generation Murano drivers, with affordable access to high-tech feature content and the uniquely-styled and functional cabin rounding out the package.

What Owners Dislike

Common gripes include a lower-than-expected quality feel to the Murano’s cabin, some easily scratched plastics, above-average wind noise levels and smallish door-mounted storage pockets. Other owners complain of limited outward visibility, thanks to generous blind-spots and thick A-Pillars beside the windshield.

Here are some owner reviews.

The Test Drive

Though finish durability is largely a function of maintenance, care, climate and the environment in which the unit is driven, some owners have reported peeling or fading paint far earlier than expected, so start a test-drive will a full and thorough walk-around. Scrutinize the condition of the paint at the front edge of the hood and bumper, and call excessive wear into pricing negotiations.

Move on board, pairing your smartphone with the Bluetooth communications and media functions, if applicable, to ensure compatibility and proper system operation. Check all windows, door locks and the sunroof for proper operation, as well as the motorized tilt/telescopic steering system, if equipped. Some owners have reported problems with the tilt-steering motor on models equipped with power tilt steering, so be sure this works properly.

Confirm that the tailgate works from the keyfob, and the remote release mounted in the vehicle. If the Murano you’re considering has a powered tailgate, confirm proper functionality, too. Some owners have reported problems with switches failing inside of the tailgate itself. In some cases, the issue is simply a remote-mounted power tailgate kill switch being engaged, though some reports exist of bad switches within the tailgate itself. More reading here.

While driving over various surfaces, be sure to listen for signs of creaking, cracking or rattling from the dashboard area, which is a well-documented complaint within the owner’s community. In some cases, the issue is a loose speaker panel, a rattle from the cowl on the outside of the windshield, or even a loose wire or clip inside of the dash. If the dash of the Murano you’re test-driving is making any unwelcome sounds, be sure to investigate, or call it into pricing negotiations.

Next, listen for some sounds from outside the Murano’s cabin. When appropriate, hold the brakes firmly, and poke the throttle moderately a few times, enough to load up the driveline a little. If you note any clunking or thumping sounds coming from up front, or through the floor the likely culprit is a bad motor mount. This noise may also be present, sporadically, when taking off from a stop. Nissan released a service bulletin relating to this issue, so a Nissan mechanic should be aware of how to diagnose and repair it quickly if the unwanted clunking is present.

Further, note that a clunking sound from the front of the vehicle as you corner over bumps, perhaps while turning into a driveway over a curb, could be caused by a worn rubber isolator or bushing in the suspension system. In any case, if the Murano you’re considering is making any questionable sounds be sure to have it checked out.

Finally, pay attention to the Murano’s Continually Variable Transmission (CVT). Though Nissan’s been using this type of transmission for years with what seems like minimal issues, shoppers are advised to be on the lookout for potential signs of trouble for added confidence. Limited throttle response, limited performance, a whining sound, any unwelcome sensations during shifting (including banging or lurching) are all good signs to have the unit investigated, or to move to another machine. The CVT should deliver power smoothly at light, moderate and full throttle.

Note that some owners report the Murano’s transmission entering a failsafe mode, which engages limited power output and a safer shifting pattern, as a result of overheating transmission fluid, low fluid levels, or use of aftermarket fluid in the CVT. Here’s some more reading.

Best advice for peace of mind around this transmission? Have only a Nissan mechanic check the CVT fluid level, as there’s a special procedure to do it properly. Ensure that only the approved Nissan transmission fluid has been added to the transmission, and that aftermarket fluid has never been used. Be sure the transmission service requirements are up to date as outlined in the owner’s manual. Budget for a fluid change if you’re unsure when one was last performed, and ensure the model you’re considering isn’t running an aftermarket radiator (perhaps installed after a collision), as these are said not to provide enough cooling to the transmission fluid.

The Verdict

With a healthy CVT transmission and passing of a few fairly simple checks for the more commonly-reported issues, a Murano looks like a solid used crossover bet. With Nissan’s experience with the VQ V6 engine and CVT technology, a healthy and properly maintained model should pose no major issues for years to come.

A list of recalls.

Crash Test Results

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): 4/5 stars
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): Top Safety Pick (2009)

When originally launched, the Nissan Murano quickly became one of the crossover marketplace’s most sought-after models where performance... 2/12/2015 11:26:54 AM