CANTON, Miss. -- Beginning only recently, a host of autoworkers come together to assemble the sleek Murano crossover utility vehicle at Nissan's $2.6 billion Canton manufacturing plant, located along I-55 about 25 miles north of the Mississippi capitol at Jackson.
Named after an Italian isle near Venice where artisans sculpt the convoluted and colorful Venetian Glass, Murano is a mid-size CUV that's all-new for 2015 editions and it appears as curvaceous as the art glass.
For the third-generation Murano of 2015, Nissan holds the length of the wheelbase to 111.2 inches but forges a 2.5-inch longer and 1.3-inch wider body with a 1.2-inch wider wheel track.
The resultant structure -- working with a prominent chrome-encrusted V-shaped grille and boomerang-style LED headlamps crowning the curvy stepped hood -- makes a bold and sophisticated sheetmetal package.
Boxy parameters of a wagon have been disguised by the fluid sculptural treatment of body panels plus the raked face and a forward-tilting tail, elements which collectively diffuse all rectangular hard corners. Muscular fender blisters bulge over big alloy wheels and the streamlined roof -- inspired by the canopy of a supersonic fighter jet -- seems to float over a wrap of tinted windows.
Murano's 5-seat passenger compartment, featuring NASA-inspired "zero-gravity" form-fitting front bucket seats and lots of electronic gizmos, is an artful design trimming in upscale materials with optional leather upholstery.
The driver's bucket may be the most comfortable we've encountered in what seems like a zillion car tests.
On the second row a bench is designed to seat two comfortably but hold three riders if necessary. The seatback splits 60/40 and folds flat to expand the cargo area, and convenient power controls to return the seatback upright appear as an optional feature.
So much about this vehicle's style, demeanor and handling conforms to recollections of uber-pricy touring sedans imported from Germany that we find ourselves rechecking the label to verify exactly what kind of car we're steering.
Like a sporty sedan such as the Nissan Altima, Murano rides on a car's chassis.
It carries a lightweight independent suspension system with front struts and rear multi-link arrangement plus large stabilizer bars fore and aft to check excessive lateral roll of the body.
Steering, through a quick-to-respond rack and pinion mechanism, feels firm and direct despite a speed-sensitive power boost.
A vented disc brake stands at every wheel and the four discs tie by computerized links to a sophisticated anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and electronic brake assist (EBA) plus a traction control system (TCS) and vehicle dynamic control (VDC) device which checks lateral skidding.
Murano for 2015 stocks as many as four onboard cameras (one in front, on in the rear and one on each side) and three radar systems (one in front and one on each side) to enable various available technology devices such as Blind Spot Warning, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking and Intelligent Cruise Control.
Further, the optional Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection provides an all-around view of the surrounding area from front/rear/side cameras to assist the Murano driver when attempting to park parallel.
For locomotion Nissan pulls out the Altima's juicy VQ35DE 3.5-liter V6, with twin cams on top and four valves for each cylinder plus CVTCS (continuously variable timing control system). It delivers superior muscle of 260 hp with 240 lb-ft of torque and links to an advanced JATCO-supplied CVT (continuously variable transmission) labeled Xtronic.
Murano orients to front-wheel-drive (FWD) traction yet also offers Nissan's electronically controlled all-wheel-drive (AWD) equipment with yaw movement control for dependable grip on slippery pavement.
The 2015 Murano shows up in eight trim designations: S-FWD, S-AWD, SV-FWD, SV-AWD, SL-FWD, SL-AWD, Platinum-FWD and Platinum-AWD.
Nissan sets MSRP figures for the redesigned 2015 Murano series beginning around $28,000 for the entry-model S-FWD.
2015 Nissan Murano
5-passenger crossover CUV
Drive Configuration: Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6 rated at
Horsepower: 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft torque
MPG: not available
2015 Nissan Murano models and pricing : (pricing not availabe)
2015 Nissan Murano S FWD
2015 Nissan Murano S AWD
2015 Nissan Murano SV FWD
2015 Nissan Murano SV AWD
2015 Nissan Murano SL FWD
2015 Nissan Murano SL AWD
2015 Nissan Murano Platinum FWD and Platinum AWD