By Paula MacPherson
The 2012 Nissan Murano SL drives very nicely, but that wasn’t its most endearing virtue. For me, it was its cargo handling abilities that stood out.
Start with the power tailgate. It was easy to work using the accompanying remote, and triggering it while pushing a loaded grocery cart toward the car meant I did not have to struggle with opening it while keeping the grocery cart from rolling away.
Push the button again while rolling the carriage back to its pickup point and the tailgate closes without any fuss.
The split and folding rear seat backs are also impressive. Folding them required a simple pull of a short strap. Raising them, which can be a challenge on some other vehicles, was accomplished in the Murano SL with a simple push of a button that triggered an electric motor to do the work. Nissan places two buttons, one for each seat back, on the instrument panel. Once raised, the same pull strap that folds the seat backs can be used to adjust their reclining mechanism.
Driving the Murano is easy, despite the fact that the vehicle is bigger than it looks. Getting in and out doesn’t require any acrobatic moves, while the driver’s seat is comfortable and the controls are straightforward.
I’m becoming fond of the pushbutton starting function found on the Murano and other vehicles. You don’t have to find your key to enter and start the Murano. You only need to have it with you.
Even the center console area with controls for the radio, heater, air conditioner and navigation system seems to have been simplified. My one complaint: Visibility to the rear is not the greatest. However, the backup camera helps here.
The Murano feels lively, tracks down the highway beautifully and steers nicely. All in all, this would be an easy-to-live-with crossover utility vehicle that delivers both the promised utility and an enjoyable driving experience.