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Range in Motion - 2005 Crossover Buyer's Guide

2005 Nissan Murano Review

by Martha Hindes

Nissan Murano
2005 Nissan Murano

"Smooth moves" can indicate a number of things when it comes to driving, like the swift, effortless flow in and out of tight road corners by a technically superior driver. It can also mean the sleek exterior curves of a "sculpture in motion" vehicle that looks more molded than designed. Or the quiet progression from idle to speed with scant hint of transmission gear changes.

While Nissan's curvy crossover, Murano, has pushed unconventional styling to the forefront -- deliberately aimed at "wild thing" American tastes -- it adds another smooth move for 2005 with the launch of a new base model designed to expand its scope and appeal. Until '05, more budget-minded shoppers might simply have admired it as it cruised on by. Now, a new S model lowers the entry point to $27,000 for front wheel drive, and brings the Murano model mix to six, along with SL and SE, all in front or all-wheel-drive.

Other smooth touches: Ample interior room for five; easy handling; a stable, wide stance on solid, standard 18-inch tires; a feeling of motion when standing still; and a sense of rakish fun. All models are powered by a 245-HP, 3.5-liter V6 mated to Nissan's Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission), that smooths out the normal gear change surges. Those have been eliminated for seamless acceleration.

While the S package omits some neat add-ons such as Dynamic Control, leather trim, and DVD entertainment system, it still can have roof rails, tow package and other convenience package goodies such as adjustable pedals. Keyless entry and ignition with Nissan's Intelligent Key become standard on the SE and SL Touring models for '05.

Nissan's a rare auto maker offering both Sirius and XM satellite radio for all models. Want both? They're $400 each. And if Murano's similarly-designed, upscale and far pricier cousin Infiniti FX catches your eye, it's the only crossover with an Advanced Lane Departure Warning System to keep a driver safely on track. That's smooth.


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