It sometimes goes unnoticed, but Nissan has long been a leader when it comes to developing two-row crossover-style SUVs. Just going back to 2015 would let you choose from models such as the Juke, Juke Nismo, Kicks, Rogue, Rogue Hybrid, Rogue Select, Rogue Sport, Murano and Murano CrossCabriolet. It’s not just about quantity, though. Nissan also has launched a number of trends. The brand’s first crossover, the Nissan Murano, beat the Ford Edge to the market as a midsize SUV with only two-row seating. That’s for maximum passenger comfort. Many other rivals cram three rows into midsize SUVs with the same footprint.
The CrossCabriolet showed off a drop-top body style that was years ahead of the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible.
The thing is, while the Murano was ahead of its time, it actually trails the used Nissan Rogue in some key areas. So here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re trying to decide between the two.
Some Notes on Nissan’s First Two Crossovers
Crossover-style SUVs were just getting popular in the early 2000s, and both the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 were into their second generations by 2001. They followed what’s become the traditional template for compact crossovers by offering standard four-cylinder engines. However, Nissan had other ideas for its first crossover model. This vehicle, the 2003 Nissan Murano, is about 10 inches longer than the comparable RAV4 and 20 inches longer than the CR-V. The used Nissan Murano also carries a standard V6 for much more power.
Nissan debuted a direct competitor to the CR-V and RAV4 in 2008, but by that time, the RAV4 had grown up. The tale of the tape for the 2008 Nissan Rogue, RAV4 and CR-V shows lengths of 182.9 inches, 181.7 inches and 177.9 inches, respectively. The point here is that the compact crossover segment had nearly expanded to include the Murano by 2008. Nissan’s bigger crossover launched at 187.6 inches. With that in mind, the 2009 Nissan Murano started a growth spurt. The Murano had stretched to 192.8 inches by the 2015 model year, when the Nissan Rogue was 184.5 inches. The two vehicles went the next few years without major redesigns, providing us with a nice sample size for apples-to-apples comparisons.
The Murano Has the Most Power
The Nissan Murano has maintained its performance focus over time, and that begins with its standard engine. Models from 2015-2019 feature a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Comparable Nissan Rogues are equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. It makes the Murano sportier than the Rogue as well as more capable for towing. Neither can pull as much as some rival SUVs, but the Murano’s trailer rating of 1,500 pounds is more than 35 percent higher than the Rogue’s limit of 1,102 pounds.
Both SUVs have standard continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) and front-wheel drive, and both are available with all-wheel drive.
The Rogue Has Higher Fuel Economy Ratings
As you might guess, the Rogue makes up for its smaller engine with better EPA grades. The base model earns fuel-efficiency scores of 26/33 mpg city/highway, which compares to the base-model Murano at 20/28 mpg city/highway. With all-wheel drive, the Rogue has EPA ratings of 25/32 mpg city/highway, and the numbers for the similarly configured Murano remain 20/28 mpg city/highway.
The Rogue also raises the bar with an available hybrid powertrain that made its premiere for the 2017 model year. Delivering 176 horsepower, or 6 more than the standard powertrain, the front-wheel-drive hybrid setup allows for EPA ratings as high as 33/35 mpg city/highway. The Rogue Hybrid checks in with fuel efficiency results of 31/34 mpg city/highway with all-wheel drive.
The Rogue Offers More Room for Cargo
The Nissan Murano matches its athletic performance with a dynamic exterior design. It’s a modern look that includes blacked-out rear pillars for one of the industry’s first “floating” roofs. This does affect practicality, however. The Murano has a cargo capacity of 32.1 cubic feet behind its rear seats and a total of 67 cubic feet. The Nissan Rogue, which is shorter than the Murano by 8 inches and has a more conventional appearance, also has 22 percent more storage space behind its rear seats. You can get up to 39.3 cubic feet of room in that configuration. Fold the Rogue’s rear seats, and the cargo capacity increases to 70 cubic feet.
The Murano Leads for Luxury
To stay competitive, even mainstream crossovers have to offer upscale equipment such as heated leather seats. The Nissan Rogue also ups the ante with a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Yet for the Nissan Murano, more features are needed. The flagship of Nissan’s crossover family has to live up to its reputation. For that, the Murano is available with luxury cues such as premium semi-aniline leather, diamond-quilted seat inserts, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and wood-finished cabin trim.
Additional Murano upgrades over the Rogue include a larger standard touchscreen, larger standard and available aluminum-alloy wheels, and standard LED headlights that are optional for the Rogue.
High-end features they have in common include remote start systems, navigation systems, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, and a hands-free liftgate.
Only the Rogue Provides ProPilot Assist
The Murano and Rogue each are available with driver-assistance technologies such as adaptive cruise control, automatic forward emergency braking, automatic reverse emergency braking, a blind spot monitor, forward collision warning, lane keeping systems, pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert and surround-view camera systems. One important difference? ProPilot Assist debuted as an option for the 2018 Nissan Rogue but not for the 2018 Nissan Murano. In fact, although the technology expands to more Rogue trim levels for the 2019 model year, it’s still not available for the 2019 Murano.
ProPilot Assist is Nissan’s “foundation for the autonomous vehicles of the future” and can automatically assist the vehicle’s steering, braking and acceleration in certain highway conditions. You’ll definitely want to keep that in mind during a test drive.
The Murano Is More Expensive
One last vital difference between the Nissan Murano and the Nissan Rogue is the price. Exact costs will vary based on factors such as a vehicle’s condition, model year and mileage, but the larger, more luxurious Murano will tend to be more costly than a comparable Rogue. As a rough guideline, the Murano’s MSRP was $5,000 to $6,000 higher than the Rogue’s during the late 2010s.