2005 Nissan Murano review:

2005 Nissan Murano

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The optional DVD entertainment system ($1,720) for rear-seat occupants is decent but could use some improvement. The system's LCD swings up from under the front console armrest to face the rear-seat passengers. It's a standard 4:3 ratio, and the 6.4-inch screen isn't very large, all of which contribute to a less-than-stellar experience when viewing a wide-screen movie. Included wireless headphones bring the audio to the rear-seat passengers. The actual DVD player is awkwardly mounted under the front console armrest, as is a set of auxiliary input jacks for connecting audio or video portables to the rear-seat entertainment system. More than that, what absolutely baffled us was the utter absence of a Bluetooth hands-free rig for the Murano, either as standard or optional equipment. We hope Nissan was just caught flat-footed on that one and will rectify this with the 2006 Murano. In the meantime, bring a headset.

Our 2005 Nissan Murano SE was powered by a 245-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Unlike conventional gearboxes with four, five, or six gear ratios, a CVT has infinite ratios, thanks to a steel drive belt and variable pulleys in the transmission. The benefits of the CVT include having optimal torque on tap in most driving conditions and improved fuel economy from running the engine in its RPM sweet spot. The highest praise we can pay Nissan's Xtronic CVT is that it took us two days to even notice the Murano had one. Shifting and drivability were just like those of a excellently designed conventional automatic, and that's a major compliment. The Murano SE gets 20mpg and 24mpg, city and highway, respectively.

We were to glad to see that Nissan's solid backup camera system made its way to the Murano as part of the Technology Package ($2,350). It offers a wide view of what's behind the Murano whenever the transmission is in reverse and has color-coded marks along the image to show the distance between your vehicle and objects. Unlike the 2006 Infiniti M45, the Murano's system doesn't include predictive lines that show where you are aimed as you back up and steer.

Other technologies on our Murano included Intelligent Key technology for accessing the vehicle and starting it without physically inserting the key, as well as power-adjustable driver's pedals.

For safety, the 2006 Nissan Murano SE comes with dual-stage front air bags with seat belt sensors that determine the level of air bag inflation based on the severity of the impact. There are also curtain/side air bags. Nissan's warranty includes three-year/36,000-mile coverage and five-year/60,000-mile power train coverage.

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