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The mid-size SUV is so spacious, you'll think it is bigger than it really is, which makes it feel even more nimble.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2020 Nissan Murano is a stylish and spacious midsize crossover SUV that can carry five adults and a lot of gear in comfort and luxury.Contrary to what you might think, mid-size SUVs are not all the same. There's a distinct subset of two-row, five-passenger SUVs that offer a more luxurious experience than the family-oriented three-row, seven-passenger models. Economy SUVs in this class include the Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Nissan Murano.

What makes these models special is that they don't have to squeeze the interior to accommodate that third row of seats. That allows designers to make these vehicles spacious and comfortable, especially in the second row. They also provide excellent storage and cargo capacity, because there's no need to store that rarely-used third row seat.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2020 Nissan Murano offer practically every available automotive technology, and the advanced safety systems are standard.

Among all these SUVs, the Jeep is naturally the most off-road oriented vehicle, but I think the Murano leads in luxury. After spending a week in Nissan's mid-level luxury SL trim, I was reminded why I like the Murano. The SL comes with heated leather seats, a Bose premium audio system, 360-degree maneuvering camera system, power liftgate, and an 8-inch touchscreen display with navigation and smartphone integration. Starting right around $40,000, this is a great value trim. The most expensive Platinum trim adds a few features, but the items on your must-have list all appear in the SL.

The Murano is powered by Nissan's legendary 3.5-liter V6, which offers 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Nissan has carefully tuned the Xtronic continuously variable transmission, and you can have your choice of front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. Last year, I drove the front-wheel-drive Murano and found it quite capable, but in the Pacific Northwest, all-wheel-drive is reasonable to put on your must-have list. Winter is coming, as the TV reminds us.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURCHMEIDE - The SL trim level comes with heated leather seats and much, much more.

For 2020, safety and convenience comes standard in the Murano SL. Every modern safety feature is included, such as adaptive cruise control, lane control, reverse automatic braking, automatic emergency forward braking, blind spot warning, traffic sign recognition, front and rear parking sensors, and an open tailgate alert. That's an impressive array of premium safety and convenience features that you'd ordinarily have to buy as options.

The Murano really shines on the road. This SUV is so spacious you'll think it's bigger than it really is, which makes it feel even more nimble. This is an SUV you can drive every day and take to the snow in winter and to the beach in summer. It's smooth, quiet, comfortable, and responsive.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Midsize crossover SUV with just two rows of seats have a lot more room for rear seat passengers.

The bottom line is that the 2019 Nissan Murano SL offers you a premium SUV experience without the premium SUV price bump. You'll get a state-of-the-art tech package, premium comfort, and great performance while saving some money. If five seats is enough for you, the 2020 Nissan Murano is a smart choice.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Not have a third roew of seats creates a trememdous amount of cargo space in the 2020 Nissan Murano.

2020 Nissan Murano SL AWD

Base price: $41,280

Price as tested: $46,655

Type: Mid-size SUV

Engine: 3.5-liter V6 (260 hp, 240 lbs-ft)

Transmission: Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission

EPA estimated mileage: 20/28

Overall length: 192.8 inches

Curb weight: 3,769 pounds

Final assembly: Canton, Mississippi


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