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The 2009 Nissan Murano

A uniquely-shaped rear window offers improved visibility and Nissan says the rear independent suspension was reworked to improve the backseat ride. The SUV remains a…

A uniquely-shaped rear window offers improved visibility and Nissan says the rear independent suspension was reworked to improve the backseat ride. The SUV remains a five-seater. The competing Honda Pilot seats eight and the Toyota Highlander offers optional third row seating.

The 2009 Murano comes in three styles: S, SL and LE. The first two come with front- or all-wheel drive; the LE only with all-wheel drive. MSRP prices list between $26,330 and $35,910. Overall, the model bears significant improvements and an impressive level of quality.

In the going and stopping department, the new Murano has the second-generation continuously variable [automatic] transmission (CVT) first employed by the Altima, giving it more response to the accelerator when you’re passing, cruising or accelerating. The larger engine doesn’t necessitate a high rev or noise increase while ensuring smooth power sailing. Keeping its 3.5-liter V-6, now the engine has 265 hp and 248 pounds-feet of torque, up from 240 hp and 244 pounds-feet. Because it’s a car-based SUV, the Murano has good ground clearance, without being unreasonably high. Towing capacity peaks at 3,500 pounds.

Impressive are new release levers for the folding rear seats. Mounted at the rear of the cargo area, activate the lever, and the seats spring forward on their own. A power return on the SL and LE lets you raise them again at the touch of a button. Underfloor storage bins are standard on all Murano styles.

LED taillight and dual chrome tailpipes are standard. Fog lights are standard on the SL and LE. Black roof rails are optional on the S and SL; the LE comes with silver-accented rails. The crossbars that make it a proper roof rack are optional for all three trims.QS and SL trim levels come with 18-inch, six-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels; the LE has 20-inch, five-spoke alloys.

The new high-quality interior comes in either Cafe Latte or Charcoal. Choose from double-stitched leather, aluminum or wood trim.

With too many other standard and safety features to highlight here, the 2009 Nissan Murano moves to the head of its crossover class.  Source: MSN.com