Lighter inside and out: The 2015 Nissan Murano debuts

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/ Updated: April 16, 2014 3:09 PM PDT

NEW YORK -- Nissan gracefully manages the transition from concept to reality at the 2014 New York auto show with the debut of the 2015 Nissan Murano crossover.

The new Murano is underpinned by the Nissan D platform, which you'll find beneath the skin of the Pathfinder, the Infiniti QX60, and the previous-generation Murano. Another holdover from the previous Murano is the 3.5-liter V-6, which still outputs 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. That engine is still mated to the automaker's Xtronic continuously variable transmission which is, in turn, paired with either a front- or all-wheel drive system. We had no major complaints about the previous Murano's power and drive-trains, so I suppose that "if it ain't broke..."

The 2015 Murano boosts its fuel economy by improving its aerodynamics and dropping 130 pounds of weight. Sarah Tew/CNET

The 2015 model's improvements come from its improved aerodynamics and new active grille shutter, which work together to achieve a 0.31 coefficient of drag. The Murano is also 130 pounds lighter this year. Taken in combination with tweaks to the powertrain's efficiency, Nissan expects about a 20 percent jump in fuel efficiency for this lighter, sleeker model, which works out to about 21 city and 28 highway mpg.

You can't talk about aerodynamics without at least commenting on the new implementation of the automaker's signature V-Motion front end, a milder version of the design that we saw on the Resonance Concept a few auto shows ago. In addition to being more aero-friendly and visually striking, the new design is said to improve forward visibility.

The boomerang-shaped headlamps are available with optional LED illumination to supplement the standard LED daytime running lights and taillights. At the rear end, a black D-pillar and muscular haunches work together to give the Murano the illusion of a floating roof and a coupe-like profile.

Inside, Nissan has worked to make the 2015 Murano's cabin more airy and spacious by lowering the dashboard height to let more light in, offering an optional panoramic moonroof, and reducing the height of the center console. The use of lighter colored cabin materials of improved quality also help. Front and rear passengers are cradled by the automaker's NASA-inspired, fatigue-reducing Zero Gravity seats.

Dashboard tech has been simplified for this generation with a center stack that now features fewer buttons -- down to 10 from 25 previously. The available 8-inch multitouch infotainment system features NissanConnect smartphone integration with mobile app connectivity, Bluetooth for hands-free calling and messaging, and a full array of audio sources. Navigation is also optional with voice recognition and more.

Nissan attempts to simplify the dashboard by reducing the number buttons by more than half. Sarah Tew/CNET

On the safety tech front, available adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, and forward collision alert and avoidance, are joined by a new rear cross-traffic alert system. Nissan's innovative, multicamera Around View Monitor also makes a return appearance, now boasting Moving Object Detection.

Interestingly, Nissan's Smart mirror technology -- which will be available on the smaller Nissan Rogue -- was not in evidence on the newly announced Murano.

The 2015 Murano is set for a late-2014 arrival at Nissan dealers nationwide.

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2015 Nissan Murano

Part Number: 200678209
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