The Nissan Murano (known as the "Maxima of SUVs") is a near-luxury mid-size crossover SUV manufactured by Nissan which began retail sales in the 2003 model year, slotting above the Pathfinder as Nissan's top-of-the-line SUV until the launch of the Armada in 2004. Designed at Nissan Design America in La Jolla, California, it is based on the Nissan FF-L platform used by the Maxima and the third-generation Altima. The Murano slots between the Pathfinder and Armada in the lineup. Currently, it is the only Nissan crossover SUV sold in the United States, where it became Nissan's best-selling SUV, knocking the Pathfinder off the top spot. Despite being similar in length to the Pathfinder, it is more expensive than a Pathfinder. The Murano is also Nissan's first front-wheel drive SUV.
The Murano was nominated for the North American Truck of the Year award for 2003. It was also named the best premium midsize SUV by AutoPacific. The vehicle itself is notable for being one of the largest vehicles available with a continuously variable transmission. Most luxuries expected in a car are standard kit in the Murano. The engine, a 3.5 litre 245 bhp V6, comes straight out of the Maxima and is specially tuned for the Murano. The 'All-Mode 4x4 with ESP+' is a form of traction control embedded into the car's onboard computer and is designed to provide 'joy' to drive. The car is 4-wheel drive and has 4-wheel independent suspension. A luxury feature of the car is a rear-view camera in addition to a rear-view mirror. A full set of airbags, steel reinforced cabin, and head restraints are safety features designed to protect the interior whilst ESP, ABS, EBD and brake assist are mechanical safety features.