Okay, so it’s probably a bit much to obsess over a cool car color, but then again, just as the Earth is 2/3 water, the majority of a vehicle is its body panels, so color counts quite a bit. That’s why I really fell in love with the distinctive “Sunset Drift” color of the 2019 Nissan Murano SL AWD full size SUV after a week of driving it all over the place. With great road handling, solid pickup and lots of creature comforts in the cabin, there really is a lot to like about the Murano.
Nissan, of course, has been around forever and I remember it by its auto-only brand name: Datsun. The company was making cars under the Datsun brand as far back as 1931 and it wasn’t until 1986 that the vehicles switched branding to that of its parent company, Nissan. More recently, the company has brought back the Datsun brand, but for entry level cars in what they euphemistically call “emerging markets”. Heck, one of our big projects in high school was rebuilding my buddy’s Datsun 240Z sports car. We tore that thing apart, had the head rebored, put it all together and (as I recall) only found one bolt that somehow didn’t make it back into the assembly. But it did start up and work!
Which brings us to the comfortable, luxurious and responsive 2019 Nissan Murano SL. I’m an SUV guy anyway – my current car is a Mazda CX-5 and my previous was a Toyota Highlander – so the size, dimensions, height off the ground and cab layout of the Murano was right in line with what I’m used to anyway, which was great. There’s something about these higher vehicles that I just find more comfortable nowadays and if you’ve never rolled out of a Supercar onto the pavement and then laboriously climbed to your feet, you’ve missed out on an unspoken part of the sportscar experience.
Here’s what “Sunset Drift” looks like:
It really is a beautiful color and very striking. This is a car you won’t lose in the parking lot sea of white, silver and black vehicles! Notice the aggressive front grill on the Murano too. Nissan’s really been working on that front grill and this one’s pretty sweet, with a sort of aggressive frowny face complimented by the emotive slash of the headlights.
On the inside, the car’s laid out thusly:
The finish on the doors and central console is a soft, plus material (and the interior color’s known as “Graphite”) that was pleasant to the touch. It did, however, seem to attract dirt and after just a day or two of driving I found myself wiping down the driver’s door and the glove compartment area. This will undoubtedly vary based on region and season; with lots of rain the week I drove the Murano it could well have exacerbated the problem.
Props to Nissan for lots of cup storage for the driver and passenger, along with that rectangular storage area too; it’s perfect for holding your smartphone while you’re driving, and the cigarette lighter / 12V power plug (and USB plug) immediately adjacent is just good positioning. In fact, let’s have a closer look at that:
The loaner vehicle I had was missing a cover or plug for the 12V power but I assume that the regular vehicle would have this installed. I missed it, from an aesthetic perspective. I know, a ridiculously first world problem. Okay, so notice that the two power plugs are USB-C and USB-3.0, along with an AUX jack. All the plugs you could want, and they’re front and center, no digging needed. I appreciate USB-C because that’s the direction the industry’s moving in with charging and connectivity cables, and would like to see its use more widespread in vehicles.
Not to be outdone, the back passengers get a nice set of power options too:
And yes, back seats have heaters too. My kids love heated seats in the winter, so that’s a big win all around, even if it’s a wanton luxury too.
Back to the front console. If you look at the photo above, there’s one thing I think they did with button layout on the steering wheel that was a mistake: The left up/down toggle button changes channels on the radio, while the volume control is a pair of awkwardly placed buttons further down on the steering wheel. I would have switched those as I find myself adjusting volume more frequently than changing channels. Like many design hiccups, however, you’d get used to it quickly enough and it wouldn’t really matter, but just getting into the car for the first time, it was a confusing layout.
Which brings us to the entertainment system. And the NissanConnect with Navigation system was terrific. The fastest, most responsive system I’ve ever used, actually, most notably when changing channels on Sirius XM satellite radio. The maps are atypically attractive (you can get a peek of that in the above photo), and XM had additional features that rather break the entire ‘streaming radio’ paradigm, as you can see:
Yes, you can replay a song, pause it if you want to focus on your driving or a conversation, all features that every radio should have, but precious few offer. Cool.
The reflection of the sky in the above photo is because the Murano also has a double-size sunroof assembly, known as the Power Panoramic Moonroof. It’s the next best thing to a convertible SUV, but a whole lot quieter on the road . I like it, though on a very sunny day you might also appreciate the power shade you can use to close it up with the touch of a button.
Now, in terms of fuel efficiency, it did okay. As always, I would wish for better fuel economy, but that’s something I want across the board with all vehicles. The Murano is rated at 20/28 and I was routinely seeing 26-27mpg in my own driving:
The overall gauge layout and display is bright, clean and easy to read on the move, and the central screen has a wide variety of display options. I almost always have it show mpg numbers so I can tune my driving to maximize efficiency. Not obsessively, though, I’ll still punch it to get onto a highway! And that’s where the Murano did well with its big 260hp 3.5L engine. Lots of power and a surprisingly fun drive for a big sports utility vehicle!
This side view doesn’t deceive either: There’s a good amount of space in the back seats for adults, good legroom, and the very back has a LOT of storage space, even without folding down the back seats to expand the cargo capacity.
Overall, I really liked the 2019 Nissan Murano SL. It’s on the upper end of non-luxury brand SUV vehicles with its almost $45K price tag, but you’re getting a lot of car for the money, good driving performance and a very comfortable ride. This would be a great vehicle for a Realtor, for example, where a family of four can easily join you on the drive around town to see potential homes, and if you’re flying solo, well, this is a lot of room for your future family!
AS DRIVEN: 2019 Nissan Murano SL AWD with 3.5L V6 engine, 260 hp, and XTRONIC CVT transmission. Additions include premium paint, carpeted floor and cargo mats and SL technology package. Base Price: $40,830.00. As Driven: $44,485.00.
Disclosure: Nissan loaned me the Murano SL AWD for a week for the purposes of this writeup. Thanks, Nissan!