Pickup and SUV provide abundant utility and driveability
When testing vehicles, there is nothing more pleasurable than units that provide superb usability and a fun driving experience. Recently, we had two weeks of genuinely dynamic vehicle testing that included the 2016 models of the GMC Sierra Denali and Nissan Murano.
Our Sierra was a 1500 4WD Crew Cab full-size pickup that was both rugged and luxurious and provided us exceptional interior and cargo hauling capabilities. While a 5.3-L V-8 Ecotech3 engine is standard, our tester had the optional $2,495 6.2-L V-8 Ecotech3 VVT power plant, the most powerful engine offered in a light-duty pickup. Mated to an eight-speed Hydra-Matic transmission, the combo provided exceptional power and performance on this pickup that is loaded with dozens of standard equipment features from a trailering equipment package to Hill Decent Control, navigation system to heated and vented seats.
Our likes on the Sierra 1500 (and there were many) include the eight-inch diagonal touch screen and easy-to-read instruments (a big deal for us), six-inch power steps for easy access to the cab (a $995 option), remote vehicle start, heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual density foam seats for added support, dual-zone climate control, the well-balanced GMC Intellilink and Bose audio system, plus the GM StabiliTrak stability control system with rollover mitigation technology and trailer sway control.
With two-thirds of the truck composed of high-strength steel, the Sierra has a rugged suspension system that features coil-over-shock in the front, and a solid axle with semi-eliptic, two-stage multi-leaf springs on the rear, both with Magnetic Ride Control that provides superb ride and handling characteristics.
High-performance LED headlamps provide powerful road exposure for nighttime driving, along with thin profile LED fog lamps.
With a base price of $53,585, our tested Sierra had $6,005 of options, including a power sunroof, enhanced driver alert package, trailer brake controller, 20-inch polished wheels, Safety Alert Seat (driver’s seat cushion vibrates when lane departure system detects lane crossover without turn signal), and more. Perhaps a lot of money, but this is a lot of truck with genuinely usable features.
Nissan Murano SUV/crossover
As a huge fan of Nissan SUVs and crossovers, the 2016 Murano Platinum AWD unit we recently tested added to our appreciation of the diversity and usability of the lineup. The Platinum is the top of four Murano models, winners of more awards than any SUV in its class, and it has copious standard equipment from heated and cooled front seats (and steering wheel) to heated rear seats, remote engine start with a climate control feature to a resonant Bose premium audio system.
This AWD wagon/crossover is powered by a beefy 260-HP 3.5-L V-8 engine that is aligned with an exceptionally smooth Xtronic continuously variable transmission. The powertrain provides both amazing performance and competitive fuel economy of 21 MPG/city and 28 MPG/highway (24 MPG overall).
Safety features abound in the Murano and include a full array of advanced airbags, including driver knee bags and roof mounted curtain supplemental bags. Vehicle Dynamic Control, Traction Control System (TCS), Hill Start Assist, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and an Around View Monitor with moving object detection are among the generous standard safety and security items.
The TCS on the Murano monitors steering and braking actions and senses oversteer or understeer, then compensates by reducing engine speed and/or applying braking to specific wheels as needed. It also senses wheel slip or spin and instantly responds by reducing throttle so the vehicle can regain traction. We experienced the system in an off-roading session and it worked quite well.
With comfortable, spacious leather-wrapped seating in both front and rear, the Murano also provides a generous 69.9 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats down. Push a button and the rear seats return to their upright position. A power liftgate provides easy rear cargo access.
The NissanConnect navigation system is clearly and easily projected onto the vehicle’s eight-inch touch display. Standard are a power eight-way driver’s seat with memory features for seat, outside mirrors, plus the power tilt/telescoping and heated steering wheel.
We really like the LED low and high beam headlights on the Murano, as well as the projected fog lamps that worked commendably during foggy and nighttime driving conditions.
Our Platinum model of the Murano had a MSRP of $40,700 and was equipped with two options: a $2,260 technology package that included a power panoramic moonroof, Intelligent Cruise Control, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, and Forward Emergency Braking; and floor and cargo mats for $210.