Built on Nissan’s revamped D platform (the same as the Altima sedan and coupe), the Murano got a revamp in 2011 – a bit of body tweaking here and there, some drivetrain upgrades, a new interior design and a new front grille, among other things.
Nissan stylists overhauled the wheel arches and cleaned up the back end while they were at it, and described the Murano as “curvaceous.”
The result was a more mainstream-looking SUV that bore some resemblance to its chief rival, the Acura RDX, and maybe even the Mazda CX-7.
Power was still supplied by Nissan’s tried-and-true VQ-series V6. In this configuration, it developed 265 horsepower. The only transmission choice was Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT).
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Apparently, the Murano’s engine was repositioned a little lower in the platform for improved torque transfer and the CVT featured an Adaptive Shift Control system. This arrangement incorporated various driving scenarios that represented different situations and the built-in memory system applied them to the current driving conditions. According to the company, the revised CVT had 20 per cent less friction than the last version.
All Muranos sold in Canada in 2011 also had Nissan’s ATTESA all-wheel-drive system as standard equipment. With a front-drive bias, it starts the vehicle in four-wheel drive and transfers power to the appropriate driving wheels as conditions warrant.
In straight-ahead normal highway cruising, for example, you’re basically in front-wheel drive. But when the front wheels turn, torque is transferred to the rear wheels, up to a maximum of 50 per cent. Traction control and vehicle dynamic control systems were also standard issue.
There were some interior changes as well. The centre stack got restyled, as did the steering wheel, seats and rear cargo area. One interesting little highlight was a pop-up rear cargo organizer beneath the rear deck that’s partitioned into three removable sections for carrying groceries and such.
Four trim levels were offered: S, SL, LE and SV. Standard equipment included things like push-button start, power windows, climate control, automatic locking doors, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, and an audio system with CD player and MP3 capability.
Depending on the model, you could also order a power fold-up/flip-down rear seat, heated front seats, leather interior, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power rear liftgate, backup monitor with camera, navigation system, “top-loading” power glass moon roof and high-intensity headlights.
Transport Canada and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had four safety recall notices on file for this vintage of Murano. These included daytime running lights that could burn out prematurely, issues with the tire-pressure monitoring system, and problems with the passenger-side front airbag. The latter item can malfunction if the vehicle’s battery is allowed to “significantly” discharge itself, from being left too long with the ignition switch on, for example.
To this we can add a hefty 32 technical service bulletins from NHTSA. These ran the gamut from doors that won’t lock/unlock properly, to a “grinding and knocking” noise from the back of the vehicle during low-speed turns on gravel, to an advisory that “strongly discourages” aftermarket chroming of the stock alloy wheels, to head and tail light lenses fogging up. This last problem isn’t a defect, according to NHTSA, but a common issue with all vehicles, regardless of manufacturer, and is caused by atmospheric and climate changes.
Despite good marks in just about every area, Consumer Reports gave this vintage of the Murano an average used car prediction, mainly because of various issues with the electrical system. Some comments from owners:
- “the back seat is poorly designed and very uncomfortable;”
- “windshield wipers do NOT work well in bad weather;”
- “poor vision out back on driver’s side.”
From a base price of around $35,000 in 2011, that vintage of Murano seems to be going from around $10,000 to $20,000, depending on the model and equipment level.
2011 Nissan Murano
Original base price: $34,498
Engine: 3.5 litre V6
Torque: 248 foot pounds
Transmission: continuously variable
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 11.8 city, 8.7 highway, with regular fuel
Alternatives: Mazda CX-7, Acura RDX, Lexus RX 350, Subaru B9 Tribeca, Hyundai Veracruz, BMW X3, Volvo XC70
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.
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