2003 Nissan Murano SE 2 WD (440)


This week I tested the all-new 2003 Nissan Murano SE 2 WD. But they are also available in an AWD (All wheel drive) version. But don’t buy it for its off road prowess. There is no low gear for serious off road use.

I like its quick steering and generally this fun to drive car has the comfort and convenience of the finest SUV’s on the market. It doesn’t have a 3rd row seat available so if you need to tote more than 5 people you’ll want to look elsewhere. Better yet, with the gas prices what they are likely to reach, buy this and when lots of people must be transported, let them drive their Suburban that gets about 7 miles per gallon.

The name Murano is taken from a popular Italian sculpted glass. It is said this SUV was designed primarily for the North American market. But then what isn’t? I’ve been told that about 90% of Porsche’s, for example, are sold in the US of A and most of those are sold in the Los Angeles area. Correct my sources if you have better information. However, I quote that because when in Germany I don’t recall seeing one Porsche. I saw some Corvettes. Just goes to show you that the grass is greener on the other side of the Atlantic – no matter what side you’re on.

General Info:

Parts –  N/A

Assembly – Los Angeles

Class:  – SUV Special Purpose Vehicle

Cars: – 350Z, Altima, Frontier, Maxima, Murano, Pathfinder, Sentra & Xterra.

Handling & Performance:

This is truly a road car. It is not meant for off road but it is well suited for the highway. It is totally comfortable and well behaved. The powerful 245 horsepower V6 is mated to a really impressive smooth shifting and responsive automatic transmission. It is referred to as a CVT for Continuously Variable Transmission. The 4-wheel vented ABS brakes are superb. I just like the way this new entry into the SUV world handles itself. It is sure footed and gives you a sense of security.


Well, you be the judge. I think is sports wild lines and the overall design leaves you with poor visibility. I also didn’t like how the rear hatch opens. When you lift up the hatch shifting cargo will likely fall at your feet. I suggest they put a lip that folds up when the hatch is opened. I’m indifferent about the broad smiling grillwork, but I happen to like the windshield treatment. The sloping line gives plenty of useful dash area. You could server a sizable buffet on the surface.

Fit and Finish:

I love the Japanese and their strong work ethic. I toured some manufacturing facilities, in particular aircraft plants, in the Kobe area of Japan and got a sense of the special concern every employee had to do the best job possible. They are proud people. But perhaps more important is the attitude of Japanese companies who enjoy mutual loyalty with their employees.


Yes. Check out the list below. Generally for the dough the standard features are great. Options are all non-essential in my view. Sunroofs are a waste of time, extra power for the passenger seat is unnecessary and who needs memory seat, pedals and mirror settings – Really!


Enough already. Really, it’s enough and not really too much either.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you don’t need the third row seat this is a great addition to the SUV line up. These are truly Cross Over vehicles. Not a Van, Not a Car, Not a Jeep, but they will give you the benefits of all three to a greater or lesser degree.

The Competition:

Nissan Murano $28-31,000, Acura MDX $36-42,000, Audi all road quatro $40-41,000, BMW X5 $40-67,000, Buick Rendezvous $26-29,000, Honda Pilot $27-33,000, Lexus RX 300 $35-37,000, Mercedes Benz M-Class $37-66,000, Subaru Outback $19-32,000, Toyota Highlander $24-31,000, Volvo XC90 $33-40,000.

Good News:

Not half bad gas stats, but then it is a 2 WD, comfy and roomy, solid ride and smooth on the highway, lots of power and terribly responsive when you need some thrust for passing, handy storage compartment under cargo area floor.

Bad News:

Poor rear visibility, opening rear hatch reminds me of flying. Careful while opening the compartments as items may have shifted in flight.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter V6 245 hp engine, Xtronic CVT auto trans, electronic distributed 4-wheel ABS power vented disc brakes, 4-wheel independent suspension, power steering, 6 spoke 18 inch alloy wheels, power mirrors, Halogen fog lights, Audio system with CD player, cruise control, tilt steering wheel with controls for radio and cruise, climate control, aluminum interior trim, cloth seats, 8-way power driver seat, 4-way manual passenger seat, reclining rear seats, fold flat rear seats for expanded cargo area, remote keyless entry, power windows and locks, Homelink transceiver, rear wiper and defroster, side impact airbags front and rear, child safety rear locks and anchors and tethers and security system.

Gas Stats:

20 City and 25 Highway MPG.


MSRP $28,999.

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