Although hampered by its power-sapping CVT, the stylish and agile 2007 Nissan Murano is a strong pick for those seeking a crossover SUV that stands apart from the pack.
Sport-utility vehicles have evolved with as much efficiency as living, breathing organisms. The first sport-utility vehicles were most at home in the wild, cresting grassy knolls and scrambling down boulder-strewn trails. Eventually, though, many of these vehicles migrated to the city, purchased by buyers enamored with their size and brawn, and a new breed of SUV was born. Crafted to shine on pavement, haulers like the 2007 Nissan Murano provide the impressive power and sizable dimensions of their ancestors, but offer the sort of carlike handling that suburban drivers crave. The Murano was among the first of these midsize crossover SUVs, and it continues to be one of the best.
The Nissan Murano -- named after the island off the coast of Italy that specializes in hand-crafted glass -- boasts a futuristic exterior marked by wraparound surface construction, an imposing grille and an ultra-high beltline. (Unfortunately, this styling cue compromises visibility.) The cabin offers lots of cubbies and bins for storage, and cargo capacity is a respectable 81.6 cubic feet. Third-row seating isn't available, however. Still, the Murano is roomy for four or five, thanks to well-bolstered seats and ample head-, hip-, foot- and shoulder room in back.
Nissan's midsize crossover SUV has a tight suspension and quick, well-weighted steering, giving it a more athletic feel than most competitors. Low ground clearance makes the Murano a washout off pavement, which isn't much of an issue for the city dwellers who comprise its core constituency. More troubling, though, is the Murano's power-sapping CVT, which dulls the charms of its 240-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6.