The mid-size Nissan Murano is a crossover luxury-oriented sport utility vehicle produced from 2003 at least through 2012, at the time of publication. The first-generation models through 2007 featured the base S trim level, the mid-range SL and the sporty SE. Nissan did not produce a 2008 model. By the time the second-generation models debuted in 2009, Nissan renamed the SE the LE. There were significant differences between the well appointed SL and SE, but the S version was also well equipped.
Nissan's relationship with the France-based Renault heavily influenced the first-generation Murano's body styling. Its most prominent features were the massive front bumper and grinning chrome grille. Its French styling cues made the Murano one of the most uniquely designed SUVs on North American roads. All three trim levels received a 245-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine wielding 246 foot-pounds of torque. Standard features on the three models included a CD player, seven-inch LCD display screen, dual-zone climate control and a continuously variable, or CVT transmission. Options for the 2006 models were adjustable pedals, Bose stereo, DVD-based navigation system, roof rack and sunroof.
As the luxury version of the 2006 Murano lineup, the SL came with 18-inch alloy wheels, antilock braking system, or ABS, heated seats, a 60-40 rear folding seat, rear spoiler, chrome grille, fog lamps, the LCD screen with backup camera, six-speaker audio system with CD player and curtain airbags. Luxury accents included alloy trim on the center console and dashboard, and alloy and leather trim on the gearshift knob. The SL was available in two- and all-wheel drives.
The most significant difference between the SE and SL was the SE came only in all-wheel drive. The SE received all the S and SE features, and then added a manual shift mode to the CVT, sport-tuned suspension and brushed aluminum roof rails. A stability and traction control system allowed the vehicle to adapt to adverse weather and road conditions. Also exclusive to the SE as standard equipment were leather seats, driver memory in the seats, tire pressure monitor system, high-intensity headlamps and a sunroof. The SE's all-wheel drive system combined with the stability and traction control automatically transferred 50 percent of its torque to the rear wheels in slippery road conditions. The SE's sport-tuned suspension featured stiffer springs, shocks and struts that allowed for a better grip on the pavement.
Cost-conscious buyers in 2006 may have been attracted to the Murano S with its $27,600 price tag, but the SL and SE models were not that far apart in cost. The SL two-wheel drive version sold for $29,150, while the all-wheel drive model sold for $30,750. The SE all-wheel drive had a retail price of $31,700.
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