Nissan became one of the early adopters of the two-row crossover idea when it debuted its then all-new Murano for the 2003 model year. But it was the third-generation Murano, which bowed for the 2015 model year, that really made this guy a fashion leader in the ever increasing crowd of five-passenger crossovers.
Today, with crossovers in higher demand than sunscreen in the desert, Nissan has moved to keep the 2019 Murano competitive with a mid-cycle refresh that includes notable new tech features, upgraded interior decor and mildly tweaked exterior cues.
Regarding the latter, not much work was necessary on the already eye-popping Murano, which remains available with front- or all-wheel drive in S, SV, SL and Platinum trims.
The 2019 edition retains most of the astounding attire Murano debuted in 2015, including its multi-plane flanks, beltline bump and blacked-out D-pillar. Tweaked are the now-trademark Nissan V-grille, techy LED exterior lighting and several new wheel designs and exterior paint colors.
Inside, the most notable 2019 changes are bestowed on the top-trim Platinum, which now gets semi-aniline leather-appointed seats with diamond-quilted inserts and contrasting micro-piping trim for the seats, door armrests and center console lid.
Other changes include three new interior-accent palettes: SV and SL can have light faux wood or a metallic look, the latter also found on S, while teak wood in a dark finish decorates Platinum's cabin.
The 2019 SL AWD we sampled featured the metal look on doors and dash, which seemed both tasteful and hip.
Regarding safety nannies, Murano now makes standard across the line Nissan's Rear Door Alert, which reminds the driver not to exit the vehicle and accidentally leave a car-seat-bound kid in back. D'oh!
In addition, Murano bundles a half-dozen safety hand-wringers into the available Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite, a suite our SL boasted via the $1,970 Technology Pkg. Optional on SL and standard on Platinum, 360 consists of Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Rear Automatic Braking.
Also, every Murano now includes the NissanConnect infotainment system, which provides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and an 8.0-inch touch-screen color display with "multi-touch control."
Want more? Murano has your back -- assuming your back in the sales office getting an SL or Platinum edition. On those two trims, NissanConnect adds navigation, which is improved for 2019 to include Door-to-Door navi with 3D building graphics and satellite imagery, online POI search and premium traffic information.
From a practical and performance standpoint, the 2019 Murano, which gets no structural or mechanical changes, hauls, handles, rides and drives just like the 2018 Murano. That means excellent room in all seating positions, and comfortable and confident performance from its familiar 3.5-liter, 260-hp V-6 and CVT automatic.
Don't let the CVT spook you. Nobody does those-belt-and-pulley transmissions better than Nissan, and this one uses Nissan's Xtronic technology to mimic a traditional step-gear automatic on hard acceleration, thereby making the driving experience more satisfying.
For the most part, each of Murano's four trim levels are self contained. In 2019, just three factory options of any significance are offered: the $3,500 SV Premium Package, featuring a panoramic moonroof, Intelligent Around View Monitor and Bose Premium audio with 11 speakers; that $1,970 SL Technology Package we had with Safety Shield 360, Traffic Sign Recognition and panoramic moonroof; and 20-inch Satin Black Alloy Wheels for $1,730, which we also had.
The 2019 Nissan Murano is in stores now. Prices range from $32,315 for a base front-drive S to -- yowza! -- $46,175 for an all-wheel drive Platinum.
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This article originally ran on stltoday.com.