The Nissan Murano and Subaru B9 Tribeca are a new breed of Japanese import crossovers that promise to sustain the trend of American car buyers converting from SUV devotees to the crossover. Crossovers are passenger car-based vehicles with the versatility of an SUV. The Murano and Tribeca share similar dimensions and carry virtually identical curb weight, but the Murano is more powerful with considerably more torque, giving it better get-up-and-go.
The mid-size Murano sits on a 111.2-inch wheelbase and measures 190.3 inches long with a curb weight of 4,138 lbs. It's offered in front-wheel or all-wheel drive configurations. It was introduced in late 2002 for the 2003 model year. It took the year off in 2008 and returned for the 2009 model year with a facelift that reflected styling cues from the rest of the Nissan vehicle line.
B9 Tribeca Basics
Subaru introduced the Tribeca in 2005, and the car received an exterior upgrade in 2008. Subaru designers briefly copied the Subaru Impreza grille, but abandoned the idea and gave it its own identity. It's placed on a 108.2-inch wheelbase and is 189.8 inches long. Curb weight is rated at 4,156 lbs.
The Murano was initially equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 generating 245 horsepower. It's the same engine found in Nissan's 350Z, Maxima and Altima. In 2009, Nissan boosted the horsepower of the V-6 to 265 to generate up to 325 foot-pounds of torque. Fuel economy was rated 16 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway.
B9 Tribeca Power
The Tribeca received a modest power increase in 2008. Early models featured a 250-hp 3-liter V-6 generating 215 foot-pounds of torque, and then increased to 256 hp for 247 foot-pounds of torque. Its city driving gas mileage was rated the same as the Murano, but recorded at only 21 mpg in highway driving. In zero-to-60 mph time trials, the Tribeca recorded a nine-second time to the Murano's eight seconds.
Murano Trim Levels
The Murano comes in the base S trim, the mid-level SL and the well-appointed LE model. The S and SL are available in front-wheel drive or Nissan's Intuitive All-Wheel Drive. The LE is equipped only with all-wheel drive. The S and SL feature aluminum accents in the interior. The LE features woodgrain trim. The LE also can be equipped with a touchscreen navigation system, power rear gate, power front and rear seats, and an iPod integration system.
B9 Tribeca Trim Levels
Two trim levels come with the Tribeca: the Standard and the Limited. Both models can be equipped with leather interior, moonroof and premium audio system and CD changer. But the Limited model also features a navigation system, trip computer functions, rear-seat DVD entertainment system and outside temperature read-out.
The true test of a quality crossover is less about speed and more about comfort over long distances. Both are comfortable over the long haul with minimal engine noise. The Murano and Tribeca are responsive in maneuvering and have more than adequate passing power. Neither is a standout in looks. The Murano looks fatter, while the Tribeca has sleek lines and a sportier presence. The older model Tribeca's front grille, however, is a distraction from an otherwise fine presentation.
- Photo Credit IFCAR, Thomas doerfer, Rudolf Stricker, Sfoskett
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