THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2010 Nissan Murano SL midsize SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: Sharing its platform with the Altima sedan, the Murano delivers a civilized and composed ride with impressive handling, crisp steering and superb balance.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: Power is derived from a 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 engine, which is mated to a Continuous Variable Transmission. It develops 265 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 248 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. Suspension is handled ably by an independent strut with coil springs in front and a multilink rear. Leading the SUV safely to its destination is a razor-sharp power rack-and-pinion steering. The 12.6-inch front and 12.1-inch rear vented discs enable the SUV to remain stable under heavy brake tapping.
LOOK & FEEL: Wide halogen headlights with chrome-slathered grille, body-colored front and rear bumpers, large LED tail lamps and dual exhausts deck up the exterior of the SUV. The interior is user-friendly and functional with a 60/40-split rear bench seat that can be pulled down with the touch of a button. Head and leg room is ample for 6-foot passengers. Well-placed storage cabbies are abundant with a standard twin-bin center console, huge glove box, pockets for coins, maps, cell phones and other personal items. Cargo space is at a whopping 140.4 cubic feet.
SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Electronic Stability Control, traction control, energy-absorbing steering column, front seat active-head restraints, front/rear crumple zones and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.
OUT THE DOOR: $29,600, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P235/65R18 all season; wheelbase, 111.2 inches; length, 188.5 inches; weight, 3,855 pounds; fuel capacity, 21.7 gallons; city, 18 mpg; highway, 23 mpg; Web site, www.nissanusa.com.
WHY DIG IT: With its admirable performance, and generous cargo and people-hauling capabilities, the eminently practical Murano is a tough package to beat.