The new model did well at the track, reaching 60 mph 0.4 second quicker than the 2006 we tested, and finishing the quarter mile at 91.6 mph, compared with 87.2. And there were two interesting discoveries with the new model: while it actually weighed less than the last one we tested (both were similarly equipped), for some reason the 2009 needed 12 more feet to stop from 60 (133 versus 121). Throttle response is noticeably quicker than in the previous crossover, and even though Nissan has successfully made the ride more comfortable, little of its handling prowess was sacrificed in the process. For those who like their crossovers sporty, this one's still a blast on a canyon road, and when based on the same EPA standard, fuel economy has improved slightly to 18 city/23 highway, a one mpg increase to both city and highway ratings.
In addition to the nose job and engine upgrades, Nissan also made dramatic improvements to the cabin, skewing it more toward luxury and refinement without making it look like it came from an old-man's car. Nissan refers to it as its "mobile suite" look -- we simply think it looks sweet. Materials are soft to the touch and are higher quality than before, the center stack is more elegant-and, thankfully, more streamlined. Some cool features are available, like a 9.3GB Music Box hard drive, Bluetooth, 11-speaker Bose system, power-up (manual flip-down) rear seat, rearview monitor, iPod interface, and nav with XM NavTraffic.
Nissan calls this generation an evolution, and that's accurate-the company made a lot of positive changes without straying too far from what buyers know to be a Murano. It focused on refinement and improvement, while staying true to its sporty nature. Pricing will be announced closer to its January on-sale date, but you can expect it will continue to start in the high-$20,000s.