The upscale Nissan SUV and I headed through Melbourne's inner western industrial district to act as support for a Kia video. While not quite the Paris end of town, it was a good chance to experience the Nissan Murano Ti in a variety of driving conditions.
Like many SUVs, the Murano is most often seen around town - but to really get the most out of the Nissan, I'd be keen to get it on a long country drive. Perhaps through the Victorian goldfields for a bit of lunch in Castlemaine.
The design of the Murano is very neo-Tokyo meets California - with a mass of chrome, no fewer than six light sources in each headlamp and an angular D-pillar at the rear. It's modern, but a bit dated - this second-generation model launched in 2008 and while it has been tweaked over the years it is a bit blobby by today's standards (the new-generation model is much more muscled - but it's not coming here).
I will admit it is not for everyone, but it is kinda cool in its own special 'Murano' way. Fun fact - this generation Murano was released as a two-door convertible in North America. Not surprisingly, it wasn't very attractive or successful.
The dashboard and centre-stack of the Murano are both a bit basic and dated, with a very confusing d-pad meets rotary dial meets touch-screen interface controlling the infotainment system.
The weird connected blobs on the air-conditioning and radio controls don't help the dated feel, but they are clear and intuitive to use.
The seats, however, are deliciously comfortable and there is plenty of room in the front and back - with cool power-folding rear seats that can be operated from the driver's seat.
Without doubt, the highlight of the Nissan Murano is the drivetrain.
Nissan's 191kW/326Nm 3.5-litre V6 (shared with the old 350Z sports car) and CVT transmission give the Murano a punchy and powerful demeanour. It even sounds good.
But it is thirsty, sitting just below 14 litres per 100 kilometres for our cross-town sojourn. However, you are never left wanting for response.
The issue I have with the Murano is small - yet big.
This is a car that if produced by Toyota would be a Lexus - it's an upmarket pitch, with the day to day badge. There's plenty to like about the Murano, but simply being a Nissan just doesn't carry the weekend-BBQ cache that the car deserves. It'd make a convincing Infiniti model ... oh, wait, they have their own heavily-styled SUV, the QX70.
The back seat is roomy, there's great boot space - but with only two child-seat anchor points and tighter-than-some rear door access room, the Murano is more suited to families with older children.
The Nissan Murano has service intervals every 10,000km that cost about $300 each visit. There are higher cost services each 40,000km and 100,000km period - but Nissan offers transparent pricing as well as a three-year warranty.
The Murano is punchy, comfortable and full of technology - it is a great package... for 2010. The world has progressed but the Murano hasn't.
While it was fun to blast that big V6 away from the lights and driver-operated power folding seats are always fun, the Murano misses the mark for me.
Should it wear an Infiniti badge? Maybe - but if Nissan are keen to make a premium SUV work, it needs to be exceptionally good or exceptionally different - and as much as the Murano tries, it doesn't quite get there.
Cross shop the Nissan Murano Ti with the Lexus RX350 for that premium Japanese feel - or look a bit smaller at the Volvo XC60 for some Scandinavian quality.
If performance and lots of buttons are high on your list for a comfortable 'older family' SUV - and you don't mind the manga design or slightly older feel, then the Nissan Murano Ti is worthy of a test drive.