The Murano was nominated for the North American Truck of the Year award for 2003. It was also named the best premium mid-size SUV by AutoPacific.
The name Murano comes from a region of Venice, Italy which is known for the hand blown glass produced there.
The first generation Nissan Murano was powered by a 3.5 litre 245 bhp V6 engine, also used in several other Nissan models like the Altima, Maxima, and Nissan 350Z, but specifically tuned for use in the Murano. Available with standard front-wheel-drive (FWD) and optional all-wheel-drive (AWD), the Nissan Murano is one of the largest vehicles utilising a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Fuel economy was rated at 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway (same mpg FWD and AWD on the new EPA specifications).
An independent suspension on all four wheels was used for class-leading ride and handling.
A full set of airbags, steel reinforced cabin, and head restraints were safety features designed to protect the interior while VDC, ABS, EBD and brake assist were mechanical safety features. VDC includes a form of traction control embedded into the car's onboard computer and is designed to provide 'joy' to drive.
The Murano received a crash test rating of 5-stars in all categories but vehicle rollover (4-stars) from the NHTSA.
For the 2006 model year, the Murano received some updates in the form of LED tailamps and turn signals, standard color information screen, available back-up camera (standard in Canada for all models), GPS and a restyled front end with some minor trim updates.
Nissan skipped the 2008 model year with the introduction of the next generation Murano – as a 2009 model. The 2009 Murano made its public debut at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show in November and sales began in early January 2008.
The revised exterior styling bears an increased family resemblance to the Nissan Rogue, while still maintaining distinctly Murano cues with its aggressive front fascia and rear quarter windows. The interior has also been completely redesigned, with the use of a more traditional instrument cluster and notably higher-quality materials.