Taking chances in the auto industry is never easy.
Bringing a vehicle to market can cost a billion dollars or more, and in most instances it’s easier to play it safe than to take a risk.
Thank goodness Nissan didn’t choose the easy path with the new ’15 Murano CUV, winner of a 2015 Ward’s 10 Best Interiors award.
On paper, the Murano’s distinctive Jasper Pearlescent trim clearly looks like a risk. It’s plastic and approximates nothing in particular, rather vaguely looking like a mishmash of opal, marble and weathered wood.
Even people within Nissan were worried about using it, believing the plastic trim was too reminiscent of one of the most reviled materials of the 1970s: Formica. Yikes.
But it works.
The trim covers generous areas of the CUV’s passenger space, including all four door panels. From the doors it continues on in a strip to the upper instrument panel. The trim also decorates the center console and runs down the center of the console bin’s lid.
Greige (gray-beige) ivory leather and soft-touch material, as well as matte metallic trim, are perfect finishing touches.
But beauty alone doesn’t make an interior a 10 Best. It has to have good ergonomics, easy-to-decipher information displays and high levels of comfort and fit-and-finish.
The Murano scores above-average in these categories, too.
Regarding fit-and-finish, impressive is the near-perfect matching of low-gloss soft-touch and hard-plastic surfaces, not an easy feat to achieve and one rarely done well among this year’s batch of nominees.
There are a few minor gripes among our judges, such as a too-short seat bottom for Editor James Amend and slow-to-heat front seats for Editor Jim Irwin. Grouches.
Seriously, Editor Drew Winter says it best when he notes a luxury midsize CUV would set a buyer back thousands more than our $41,000 Platinum AWD grade, and not be nearly as exciting.
“I love it,” he says. “Everything looks super high-quality, and they’re stretching the envelope on color and trim. This is a very impressive interior for the price.”