This is the 2022 Nissan Murano Midnight Edition: You’re looking for something. A sentimental trinket, an old charge cable, your birth certificate, who knows. You’re pretty sure you saw it in one of your bedside drawers at some point in the last however many years it’s been. While you’re rifling through these largely defunct worldly possessions of yours, you happen across an old smartphone that served you so dutifully in a different phase of your life, many moons ago.
You didn’t shatter the screen on this one, it’s still kind of a nice piece of hardware. The bezel is actually kind of pretty. It fits in the hand nicely. It even has a headphone jack – don’t see that anymore. You plug it in, power it up, and… the charm falls apart. You’re instantly reminded how far technology has come in the last seven years or so. For better or worse, in 2022, the Murano encapsulates this experience.
The good people in R&D at Nissan have toiled away converting their newest models from also-rans to class leaders. Having made its debut all the way back in 2014, the 2022 Murano soldiers on largely unchanged save for a mild facelift in 2019, and it reminds us all how far Nissan has come. There’s no getting around it, this is one of the oldest new vehicles you can buy right now, and it feels like it in every detail. However, just like the headphone jack on that old smartphone in your nightstand, the Murano has some unique redeeming qualities that are hard to find anymore.
The most distinct quality lies under the Murano’s hood – this is one of the last vehicles sporting Nissan’s very tried and true VQ35DE engine, which came around before phones were expected to be smart. Whether you think it’s legendary or just legendarily old, there’s no denying it’s a welcome respite from the cookie cutter four cylinders that are under the hoods of so many of its contemporaries.
The 3.5-liter V6 engine fires to life with a pronounced growl every single time you push the start button, never wasting an opportunity to remind you of its performance pedigree. In the Murano, it produces 260hp and 240lb-ft of torque, offering brisk acceleration whenever you want it, and allows for relaxed, low rpm cruising when you don’t. That relaxed cruising allows for a highway fuel efficiency rating of 8.5L/100km, and our testing dipped down to just 8L/100km during a long jaunt. Our combined observed mileage came in at 9.8L/100km, which edges out Nissan’s claim 10.4L/100km.
Relaxed cruising is what the Murano does best; its mature engineering philosophies make it a terrific mile muncher. Rather than pretending to be “sporty,” the Murano is a big comfy car that knows it’s a big comfy car and doesn’t really try to be anything else. The suspension is set up fairly soft, comfortable for sure and just controlled enough to feel good under most driving conditions, though it definitely shows its mass when pushed hard. The steering is on the slower side and has surprising heft, making it feel very deliberate – it gels in this application.
The seats are old-school terrific, with loads of soft padding, draped in leather that feels thick and luxuriant. Ditto the steering wheel, generously wrapped in an abundance of hide, and is substantial in the hands. Even the armrests are pillow soft, adding more decadent garnish to the Murano’s plush vibe. The rear seats are similarly trimmed and doughy, and even have adjustable backrests to really get comfy. While its rivals have significant advances in sound deadening, it’s still quiet enough, and Nissan’s well designed suite of driver aids makes covering lots of ground a breeze – though steering assist is conspicuously absent, a glaring omission and a reminder of its senior status among its rivals. There’s no auto-hold for the brakes or a wireless phone charger, either.
The elder eccentricities don’t stop there; the interior space is thoroughly dated. The elliptical steering wheel controls, the steering column stalks, gloss black center stack and thin chrome buttons, the shifter and its surround, the door handles, all look and feel like they belong on a much older product. Nothing is outright bad, mind you, but it’s long since been surpassed in style and attention to detail, even by the Murano’s own stablemates, which offer some of the best interior design and material choices in the business. We did not love Nissan’s multitude of plastic finishes: Brushed grey, metallic grey, metallic silver, flat silver, chrome, and of course, piano black. A little more cohesion would go a long way here.
As you probably guessed, the Murano’s infotainment is also pretty badly dated (honestly, it’s where the whole old smartphone analogy came from). It’s controlled by a relatively small 8 inch touchscreen, and it looks and feels every bit its age. The resolution is poor, it’s not exactly snappy in response, and its load time on startup is a nuisance. There’s no jumping in, punching in a quick destination and taking off. It is worth mentioning that while it feels more than a little outmoded, it’s still pretty functional. Everything works, and Nissan’s intuitive UI design and use of physical controls makes it all easy to figure out, and the center display and gauge cluster are still pretty with-it, too.
The Murano’s long derided Xtronic continuously variable transmission, sadly, is not with-it. In all of our recent Nissan reviews, we pretty much always mention that Nissan’s CVTs used to be a sore point, with an emphasis on the past tense – they’re much better now. The Murano is from that past tense. It never quite feels like it’s going senile, but it is long in the tooth and puts a bit of a damper on things. Punch the skinny pedal off the line and it feels caught off guard, needing a moment (or three) to figure out how to manage the meaty motor’s muscle. It does much better once you’re rolling, and the still-youthful engine counterbalances the CVT’s weaknesses.
There’s one more point of frustration, and it’s a pretty big one: the price of admission. The Murano SL AWD, with its plush seating and healthy V6 engine, rings in at $44,198. Our Midnight Edition test vehicle features blacked out trim and black 20” wheels for $1500, and also includes very here-and-now Boulder Grey metallic paint for $300 more, to make the Murano at least look hip and with-it, bringing the grand total to $45,698.
On the other side of Nissan’s own showroom floor, you could get into a larger and more capable Pathfinder SV for the same money, or get into a decked out Rogue Platinum that’s beautifully appointed, quieter, smaller outside but has more cargo space inside, and pocket a few grand to boot. Both of those vehicles are new or nearly new for 2022 and it really shows in the attention to detail and implementation of technology. It’s a tough sell in this market, but it’s not without its own charm.
The stalwart V6 engine is durable, efficient, powerful, and characterful. The seating is fantastic and it has a cushy ride. It drives well, reminiscent of older executive sedans in a good way. It’s functional, usable, and intuitive. We can’t deny it still looks the part outside, but can’t help but feel it’s getting a little tired on the inside. If you’re coming from an older vehicle, and you want a comfortable commuter, and you’re not into massive tablets and tiny turbos, you’ll probably really like the 2022 Nissan Murano Midnight Edition. Rumour has it that a redesigned Murano is on the way, and that’s great news because, well, we think it’s getting to be that time.