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Nissan Murano
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Overall: The Murano appeals primarily to buyer’s hearts and not their heads; an all-new design that surfaced in late 2014 for the 2015 model year charts a uniquely similar course.

Drivetrain: A 3.5-liter V6 supplies the power, as it does for many other Nissan models; a continuously variable transmission is also a Nissan staple; all-wheel-drive is optional.

For the first really major overhaul since its 2003 introduction, Nissan’s designers left virtually nothing on the table from the Murano’s previous shape. The crisply creased sheetmetal that extends along the door panels is interrupted by a fin-like hitch that seemingly rises into the rear-most side glass. On the inside, lowering the instrument panel and enlarging the windshield enhances the forward view. Those aboard are also treated to accommodations that qualify as sumptuous, especially when the Murano is trimmed with leather seat coverings (climate-controlled in front) and the sweet sounds emanating from the optional 11-speaker Bose audio system wafting through the cabin. At the heart of the Murano is a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. That output is modest in this age of advanced direct-injection and turbocharged engines found in competing brands, but it’s adequate in a wagon that weighs less than 4,000 pounds (145 less than the previous edition). Power is delivered to the front and/or rear wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with built-in “steps” that sort of mimic an actual multi-gear automatic transmission. There are no steering-column-mounted paddle shifters, but the floor shifter can be used to manually control the faux ratios. The price-leader Murano S comes with the usual assortment of basic content, while the SV adds a navigation system, power-adjustable front seats, remote engine start, fog lights and roof rails. Along with leather seats (heated in front) and an upgraded stereo, the SL has blind-spot warning. There’s also a 360-degree Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection that automatically applies the brakes if anyone or anything approaches the vehicle while the Murano is backing up. The top-level Platinum trim serves up heated front and rear seats, a power-folding second-row seat and 20-inch wheels (18-inchers are standard). Note that all-wheel-drive is available on all trims, while the panoramic moonroof can be had on all but the S trim.