by Rob Wagner
Junko Kimura / Getty Images News / Getty Images
The midsize Nissan Murano is a luxury-oriented crossover sport utility vehicle produced from at least 2003 until 2012, at the time of publication. The first-generation models up to 2007 featured the entry-level S, the mid-range SL and the sporty SE. Nissan did not produce a 2008 model. When the second-generation models debuted in 2009, Nissan renamed the SE to LE. There were significant differences between the well-equipped SL and SE, but the S version was also well-equipped.
Nissan’s relationship with France-based Renault greatly influenced the body style of the first-generation Murano. Its most prominent features were the massive front bumper and the gleaming chrome grille. Its French styling cues made the Murano one of the most uniquely designed SUVs on the roads of North America. All three trim levels received a 245-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 246 pound-feet of torque. Standard features on all three models include a CD player, a seven-inch LCD screen, dual-zone climate control, and a CVT or continuously variable transmission. Options for 2006 models were adjustable pedals, Bose stereo, DVD-based navigation system, luggage rack, and sunroof.
As the deluxe version of the 2006 Murano lineup, the SL came with 18-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock braking system or ABS, heated seats, a 60-40 folding rear seat, rear spoiler, chrome grill, fog lights, LCD screen. with backup camera, six-speaker audio system with CD player and curtain airbags. Luxury details included alloy trims on the center console and dash, and alloy and leather trims on the gear lever knob. The SL was available in two- and four-wheel drive.
The most significant difference between the SE and the SL was that the SE came with all-wheel drive only. The SE received all the S and SE features, then added a manual shift mode to the CVT, sport suspension, and brushed aluminum roof rails. A stability and traction control system allowed the vehicle to adapt to adverse road and weather conditions. Also exclusive to the SE as standard equipment were the leather seats, the driver’s memory in the seats, the tire pressure monitoring system, the high-intensity headlights and the sunroof. The SE’s four-wheel drive system combined with traction and stability control automatically transferred 50 percent of its torque to the rear wheels in slippery road conditions. The SE’s sport suspension featured stiffer springs, dampers and struts that allowed for better grip on the pavement.
Cost-conscious buyers in 2006 may have been drawn to the Murano S with its $ 27,600 price tag, but the SL and SE models weren’t that far apart in cost. The two-wheel drive SL version sold for $ 29,150, while the all-wheel drive model sold for $ 30,750. The all-wheel drive SE had a retail price of $ 31,700.