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2019 Nissan Murano: Flagship SUV gets a mild refresh [First Look]

2019 Nissan Murano 2.JPG
2019 Nissan Murano (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

Nissan did not make drastic changes to the Murano for 2019.

That’s not a bad thing.

In fact, what the automaker didn’t change is almost as important as what it did.

The 3.5-liter V-6 engine is the same as is the 260-horsepower output. The ride and handling is still comfortable and solid. Front- and all-wheel drive are offered at every trim. And, most important, they’ve left the super-comfy Zero Gravity seats intact.

I have a really good driving position in the Murano, and a lot of it is due to the driver’s seat. But it also has to do with excellent visibility out the windows. Which also hasn’t changed.

So, what is different?

It boils down to two words: styling and technology.

The exterior gets a minor refresh with the most obvious changes on the front fascia – and even those are subtle. The grille gets more distinct V-Motion design language, and the LED headlights have been redesigned.

The taillights also get an upgrade with LED lights and a more a prominent boomerang look.

Murano will also have three new colors for 2019: Sunset Drift Chromaflair, Mocha Almond Pearl and Deep Blue Pearl.

The interior materials get some upgrades as well, which include micro-piping trim on the Platinum model and new interior trim finishers throughout the lineup.

In terms of technology, the biggest improvements come in the way of safety.

Nissan adds a standard Rear Door Alert, which means when you open the rear door before starting the vehicle but don’t open it after your shut off the vehicle and close the front door, you’ll get an audible alert.

Safety Shield 360 also becomes available on the Murano for the first time in the 2019 model year. This includes features such as automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist and rear automatic braking.

While we appreciate the fact that Nissan is adding more safety tech, we don’t like that it’s not standard. In fact, you can’t even get Safety Shield 360 as an option until you get to the SL trim, where it’s a part of the tech package. It’s standard on the top-tier Platinum trim, which tops $43K.

This is in sharp contrast to the all-new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, which will get a lot of these features standard and has a base price of $27K.

If you’d rather, you can make the comparison to the 2019 Ford Edge, which also has a lot of these features standard and has a base price of $31K.

Yes, I understand that Murano targets a more “near-luxury” type customer, but still. The expectation is growing among consumers that it will be standard everywhere.

Other tech features of note include standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as the addition of four standard USB ports – two of which are USB-C.

The awkward thing, however, is the fact there is only one regular USB port in the front, so if you have two adults who don’t have smartphones that can charge via USB-C, you’ll have to reach a cord through from the back seat.

Not awful, but not ideal.

The saving grace is that Murano isn’t intended to be a family vehicle.

Trim breakdown is as follows:

S ($32,315): This trim will have standard automatic emergency braking, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Rear Door Alert and Intelligent Driver Alertness.

SV ($35,485): This trim adds 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and remote engine start.

SL ($40,275): At this trim, you’ll get leather seating surfaces, heated front and rear seats, navigation Bose premium audio, around-view monitor and parking sensors.

Platinum ($44,575): The top-tier trim adds rear automatic braking, 20-inch Dark Hyper Silver wheels, semi-Aniline leather seats with diamond quilted inserts and a power panoramic moonroof.

Adding AWD, which is available at every trim, will add $1,600.

The 2019 Murano went on sale in December and is now in dealerships.

The Bottom Line:

I really like the Murano. It’s attractive and the driver’s seat is one of the most comfortable seats I’ve ever sat in. It has nice ride and handling and just the right amount of power.

Plus, it’s worth noting the price increase is nominal for the bottom two trims -- just $270 for the S and $140 for SV.

My biggest complaint: The advanced safety tech isn’t standard. You’ll add at least $10K if you want things such as lane departure warning or automatic rear braking.

Editor’s Note: Driving impressions in this “First Look” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Nissan covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.