murano


Using vehicles to create student interest in math and Language Arts
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

Using vehicles is an excellent way to motivate students and to help ready them for real life buying decisions. The following links deal with the various manufactures where students can write for information, obtain pricing information and to harvest compare and contrast data for Common Core related essays.

A listing of all DMV offices.
Finding the office that deals with your state and others can provide information on how old one needs to be to drive as well as the various license fee data that could be used for Common Core math problems. I have used driver manuals to motivate students to read.
http://www.dmv.org/

Data on fuel economy
This federal site would enable students to select a variety of vehicles and there fuel mileage. This could be used for math as well as to provide statistics for an essay on the best or worst type of vehicles in terms of fuel costs.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

A link site to manufacturers who sell cars in America
http://search.ezilon.com/united_states/business/automotive/auto_manufacturers/

A listing of vehicle websites worldwide
http://autopedia.com/html/MfgSites.html

National Motorists Association
A great source of information on driving and the law.
http://www.motorists.org/

A listing of car value prices
A good place to find statistics for math problems about the prices of cars and motorcycles.
http://www.nadaguides.com/

Where cars are made by location
Great way to teach geography.
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/a-graphic-representation-of-whats-really-made-in-america-feature

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Toyota Venza: Pretty Practical

by The Car Family

for more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/home/most-reliable-vehicles/

for a list of vehicle websites go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

This new and very different Toyota has a place in the driveway for those who find the Highlander too tall, the Lexus RX too expensive, and the Sienna too vanny. For a starting price of $26,000 you can order a vehicle that is not only difficult to categorize, but one that is difficult to evaluate. The reason is simple, this is a very large crossover with a Lexus like feel and yet it is noisy and ponderous. Indeed, this was not our favorite Toyota. The huge tires created a steady hum, the very expensive luxury option package was overly complicated and the rear seats did not fold flat and you even had to remove the headrests to get them to fold at all.

The Venza feels big even though it is the same size as a Camry, abeit lower, and is the same width and about the same price as a Highlander. In other words, it is high, wide, and and weights nearly as much as the Highlander. Interestingly, it also has a larger turning radius with the Venza needing a vast 39 ft. to turn, which makes it difficult in tight parking garages. You really need that optional rear view screen when you buy the Venza due to the poor visibility to the back and sides.

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There are two engine choices, the best being the 2.7-liter four-cylinder that provides an ample 182 horsepower with real world gas mileage about 23 mpg. The 3.5-liter V6 makes 268 hp and you can expect about 21 mpg, but if you order the all wheel drive model go with the larger engine. With the 17 plus gallon tank you can easily go over 400 miles on the highway with either engine.

Cargo space is 70 cubic feet while the Highlander gives you 95. What we are tying to say is that the Highlander is more car for the money, and you have the optional third row of seating. However, the Venza is sleeker, lower, and has a much better interior. We think it should appeal to those who find the Camry to common and the Highlander boring. We don’t think it is going to be a big seller, but its looks appealed to a lot of people and they may be enough to justify its success.

Mom’s view: I did not like the poor visibility and the large turning radius. This is not a car for city dwellers who don’t have their own parking spaces. You sit high, but you can’t see the Venza’s front end. The GPS is not the best and we found it difficult to use, and the stereo and the dual-zone HVAC controls require patience to master. The screen is easy to read, but the map symbols are too small and the whole thing is overly complicated.

Driving the Venza, even with the V6, is dull. The brakes are soft, the handling soft, and the acceleration is soft. The road noise from the 20 inch tires is tiring. Essentially, this is a Camry station wagon and yet the Camry is much more responsive. But the Venza interior, ah, the interior. It is lovely. There is a center console that provides for all types of storage and the shifter is high and easy to reach. However, there isn’t much feel to. You can easily carry five adults in comfort and the Venza is loaded with standard equipment. The base model includes 19-inch alloy wheels, auto headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power driver seat, 60/40 rear seat, auto-dimming rear view mirror, universal garage-door opener, cruise control, trip computer and a stereo with CD changer and auxiliary audio input.

Nevertheless, there is an abundance on options on the Venza that are mostly grouped into packages. I highly recommend the power tailgate and rear view camera. The HID headlamps are above average and the sound system may appeal to some with its 13-speakers and Bluetooth and satellite radio. Those who want to stupefy their children by having them stare at a movie while traveling can order the rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Safety wise the Venza comes standard with four-wheel anti lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and front-seat active head restraints.

The new Venza looks great, but it wasn’t my cup of tea due to its ponderous driving feel and lack of crispness. If you are coming from a SUV you will probably feel right at home.

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Young working woman’s view: An interesting vehicle and one with appeal in its appearance and utility, the Venza, nevertheless there is a lot that needs more thought. For example, the optional 10.2 inch screen for the flip-down DVD player blocks the rear view mirror. The electric power steering feels disconnected and the Venza requires a very large turning radius. If you use the wireless DVD player the signal can interfere with the stereo radio volume. The middle rear seat needs more padding and the air conditioning/heating ducts are placed so that the steering wheel intercepts the flow. The center console has the transmission shifter mounted near the dash and this leaves lots of room for cupholders, iPods. There is even a special compartment for MP3 players and the like. Despite all the room for storage, there is no handy space for your purse as there was in the early model RX. Indeed, that model remains the best use of interior space of any vehicle we have ever tested.

The noise from the large side mirrors and large tires creates a din at highway speed and the seats aren’t that comfortable for me. I think larger people would enjoy them more. The Venza does not isolate you from the feel of the road although large bumps are clearly felt.

Finally, the Venza, despite its size, does not have a third row of seating. For that you need to go to the Highlander. The good news is that space can be put to good use for hauling practically anything this side of a sofa/chesterfield,couch,davenport and it even enables backseat passengers to recline their seats. There are 70 cubic feet of storage in back and the floor is level when the rear seats are folded down.

I would not buy the Venza for three reasons. First, it has large blind spots and is not easy to park. Secondly, the brakes and steering feel are too soft. Finally, it is attractive inside and out, but the pricing with the options I like push the cost way past that of a RAV 4, which holds more and gets similar fuel mileage.I also think that the speedometer font is too small.

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Young working male’s view: I just didn’t find the stereo system up to snuff. The controls for the air conditioning and heating could easily be simplified, and you really need to remove the rear headrests and make sure the optional rear seat monitor is up or your limited rear mirror vision is even more limited. The wireless system works well, since I work making some of the lowest priced American open source computers and servers for http://eracks.com/ I wonder why no computer input port?

The large tires look good, but they are going to cost a bundle to replace and they are not quiet riding. Here is my thumbnail about the Venza; stick with the basic model, engine, front wheel drive, skip the options except the automatic rear door closer and rear view camera and drive carefully. It is good looking, handy, and won’t cause you to lose any points off of your driver’s license.

Dad’s view: The Venza and the Saab are two of the few cars that cater to pets. You can order a rear hatch pet ramp for easy loading and unloading, a leash tether for securing pets in the vehicle, a pet booster seat with harness, a first/second row or cargo area pet barrier, pet seatbelt buckles and rear seat zip line-style harnesses as well as waterproof and removable hammock-style seat covers for this Toyota. That says it all about the Venza. A fine suburban commuter for family and man’s best friend. It won’t challenge or offend you. Sort of pretty, but certainly practical.

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There are two engine choices, a new 2.7-liter, 182-horsepower inline-four and a 3.5-liter, 268 horsepower V-6. The base engine is adequate, except for those Venza’s with all wheel drive. For that model step-up to the V-6. Towing limits are 2500 pounds for the four-cylinder and 1000 more for the larger powerplant. In either case the six-speed automatic transmission is excellent.

The major drawback to driving the Venza is its handling. It is very vague and the use of large tires does little to improve it cornering, but harshens the ride. The brake feel is adequate, but I would like more action early on when depressing the pedal.

No doubt this is a great grocery getter and the high sitting position, wide doors, and easy entry and exit height make it a natural for both families with young children and older folks. In other words, for those usually not needing to push the speed limit. Other than that this is a great car/wagon/crossover/SUV.

Family conference: The Venza draws a fair amount of attention and is price well. Thus it has the earmarks of another success for Toyota. It does have shortcomings, the worst of which is the lack of visibility and the noise from the engine, tires, and side mirrors. By the way, we all loved the large size of those mirrors and were very willing to turn up the stereo a bit to cancel out the wind noise. The Venza may not be easy to classify, but for many it is going to offer the best combination of fuel mileage, cargo capacity, and reliability. You might also consider the Subaru Forester, the Nissan Murano, and the Ford Edge. Or, Toyota’s own RAV4.

rogue_4.jpgNissan Rogue: Honey, I Shrunk the Murano

By The Car Family

For more vehicle reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/home/gmc-acadia-saturn-outlook-buick-enclave-best-gm-suv/

Our first reaction was decidedly mixed. Did they shrink the Murano? It has the same futuristic look and is even more attractive in darker colors. What it didn’t take us long to discover was the quiet ride, spunky engine, firm ride, and the fact that it didn’t have a spare tire hanging off the rear hatch making it difficult to open and expensive to repair.

The interior has a youthful look with a few helpful twists such as an auxiliary jack for iPods and large HUVA controls. The instrument panel is trendy, but the bright orange light from the gas gauge and the small fonts make them very difficult to read quickly. The tachometer and speedometer are about six inches and the fuel and temperature gauges two inches in diameter and reside in the middle of the instrument cluster and has a strange orange illumination. The seats are firm and need more lumbar and maybe a touch more padding, but overall they felt good to the tush.

The engine is very responsive with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder powerplant producing 170 horses and 175 lb-ft of torque providing a good average of 23 mpg with a 15.9-gallon tank. Only the Honda, Subaru, and Toyota were able to match that and they weren’t as much fun to drive even though they had more usable room inside. It comes with four-wheel anti-lock braking, Electronic Brake force Distribution, Vehicle Dynamic Control and Traction Control to help control your emotional outbursts.

The CVT works well, but would really just like to accelerate. When it senses you want more power it reacts aggressively, but that is better than some of the Lexus transmissions where they appear to be second guessing your desires even with their seven and eight speed gearing.

We had the optional all wheel drive feature and it worked very well. The Rogue starts in all wheel drive and switches to front wheel drive until future notice. You don’t have to ask, the Rogue takes command of the situation.

There is plenty of competition in this price range and they all offer a lot for similar money in the from of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV, Subaru Forester, and overpriced and premium fuel devouring BMW X3 being among them. So why consider the Rogue? Well, it is more fun to drive, has excellent visibility, and just begs to be toyed with. And, it is filled with little surprises like a huge glove compartment, a lot of little storage areas, and a

On the negative side is has less cargo space and probably won’t retain its value as well. However, we think you are probably going to get a great deal on these as Nissan strives promote its Rogue.

Mom’s view: I like the seating position and the front and side visibility. On all SUVs and minivans I want a rear view camera option, but there wasn’t one on this model. As such rear visibility is very limited. The seats were firm and there needs to be both a tilt and telescoping option on the steering column as I could not find an accommodating position as the steering wheel has a very bus like angle. The brakes were very good, the acceleration sprightly and well mannered, and the rear hatch easy to open. The interior lighting was great, but the front headlights were dismal and there needs to be better lighting in the rear cargo area where there is none.

Interior materials are bleak and I expect that the seat fabric, as that on the Versa, is going to harvest dog hair at a terrific rate. The controls are easy to reach, but the Nissan radio with its unique FM/AM push button selection needs to be mastered before setting out. The heater and air-conditioning is average in quickness to change the cabin’s temperature and the horn is well below average in sound level. There is plenty of storage with a large and well thought out glove compartment.

This is a crossover vehicle that is related to the Sentra sedan. We like the Sentra, but we like the Rogue more. The electric steering is very good in town and the Rogue, contrary to its name, always feels domesticated. The ride is remarkable for such a short wheelbase vehicle. It is the among the best of all compact SUVs, although it does not handle real offroading the way a Subaru Forester does and can’t perform up to those with six cylinder engines.

With pricing starting in the $20,000 range you need to take a look at the new Saturn Vue, the Mazda CX-7, the Ford Edge, and the Honda and Toyota products. All of the competitors offer more room, but only the Acura RDX is friskier. Indeed, if you want to save considerably and don’t need the room the Suzuki SX4 is priced around $15,000 a truly cute ute.

Safety wise the Nissan Rogue comes with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.

I found myself liking the Rogue more each day I drove it. The 37.4 ft. turning radius is fine, the 3300 pounder felt trim and eager to please with good brakes. Only the sometimes confused CV transmission would jar my concentration, but it was worth it when it came to fill the tank. I was able to better 25 mpg easily on the highway. Maybe I bit youthful in the looks department, but in the top category of crossover utes moving in with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V while patiently awaiting the residing king/queen of this segment, the Subaru Forester which has undergone a makeover. Nevertheless, the Rogue is good value.

Dad’s view: Nissan has the strangest collection of vehicles of any manufacture and can’t seem to get its styling department to concentrate while the engineers produce one of the best six cylinder engines anywhere. They have some of the worst vehicles for gas mileage from the god awful gas swilling Titan pick-up and Armanda SUV that can both deliver single digit fuel mileage in traffic, to the Xterra and Pathfinder which seem to contradict each other as they offer nearly the same power and utility while the Xterra is priced over $6000 less and has just has a tad less room and luxury. Than there is the new 2009 Murano that has been rendered nearly obsolete at birth by the Rogue unless you need more of everything for several thousand dollars more. To this strange mix add the really terrific Versa, Sentra, and 350Z and the underrated Maxima and Quest minivan and useful Frontier pick-up all of which get exemplary fuel mileage and are user friendly and well priced.

That being said, the Rogue is clearly to be placed in the latter category. It is a winner, but as the Versa, may have a tough time catching the eye of the public. And, unlike the Versa, it needs to have a sharper price point to be competitive. As it now stands the Rogue is in the base Honda CR-V’s cost range and, although it is much more responsive and fun, doesn’t have the proven resale or room of the Honda. If Nissan priced its entry level price $17,500 it would be unbeatable.

The four cylinder 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine has plenty of spunk and offsets its sometimes noisy behavior by providing excellent fuel mileage. The CVT gets your attention and is not as smooth behaving at the one in the Versa or the Altima. Nevertheless, the fuel mileage and passing ability are very good. We had the all wheel drive model that might be needed if you’re driving experience is marred by frequently snow, but we feel that the front wheel drive model is the better performer. As might be expected, the all wheel drive gets slightly less fuel mileage at 21/26 mpg and 0 to 60 times reside just south of ten seconds.

Car like is the best way to describe the feel of the Rogue on the road. The electric steering is well muted and the suspension levels most all road surfaces without a disruption. The seating position feels very high due to the fast sloping hood and low dash. The seat adjustments aren’t that easy to reach, but the electric side mirror knob is as are the window controls. There is a fair amount of noise in the cockpit, especially in windy and rainy weather. The wipers aren’t large enough to clear the top and side of the windshield and the defrost could be quicker to heat. The tailgate is very, very easy to lift. The best in the business. However, the liftover is high, probably due to the eight inches plus road clearance that the Rogue has to accommodate those determined to go offroad or traverse unplowed roads. It does not corner as well as the very snappy Acura RDX, but it costs a lot less. Overall, this is an ideal combination of commuter car and adventure mobile.

Young working male’s view: This is perhaps the best SUV that Nissan has ever produced. It gets good gas mileage, has a nice ride, can hold four adults in comfort, and is nimble. The rear seats are fixed, which does not allow them to be slid back for more legroom and there isn’t much cargo room with less than 30 cubic feet behind the back seat. The headlights are average, I would go with SL model and the Premium package with its optional xenon units and you can utilize your SmartKey with keyless entry, upscale sound system, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and Bluetooth and an auxiliary port for iPods.

Frankly, the looks of the Rogue attract a lot of female interest. In fact, none of my male friends found it appealing at all. Call them the Xterra crowd, unruly and always short of gas money. I didn’t mind the Rogue’s road abilities, but the backseat is strictly for two adults and the steering needs a bit more heft at speed. This Nissan wouldn’t be my first choice in a crossover, the Subaru holds my attention better, but it is a good one.

Young working woman’s view: Looking like a shrunk Murano, the Rogue is one of the more poorly named vehicles this side of the Ford Taurus. You can order it as a S with or without all wheel drive and the SL with the same drivertrain choices. Standard equipment is what you would expect with 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, air-conditioning, power mirrors and doors, and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. I recommend this model. If you want to upgrade harvest yourself a SL with larger tires, alloy wheels, tinted windows and various doodads.

There is plenty to appreciate here, but there are some areas that need to be addressed. For example, how about good rear seat cupholders, a padded area for your sunglasses, a place to put your purse, and a rear cargo light? I also have no idea why they don’t place the gas filler door on the driver’s side. It is so much easier to park near the “pump” and who wants to have to walk around a car to fill in cold weather?

There could be a better use of the space in the spare tire area, a better jack, a longer slide for the front seats for those that are tall, side molding to protect from the SUV drivers and passengers who are so upset about their plummeting resale rates that they slam their doors open, and the reflective glare in the side view mirrors from the interior bright pieces in sunny weather. On the plus, but easily missed side, are the red night lighting, including the overhead console, the perfect rear seat height for placing a baby in its seat, the cargo organizer, the hidden middle rear seat safety belt that doesn’t hang down like on some models, a keyless entry system that saves hunting for keys (By the way, there is a key in the unit should the battery die.) and a rear hatch that practically opens and closes itself.

If the Rogue had a larger rear storage area I would consider it, as this is one useful Nissan. But with two large dogs to tote around and a high jump up level it isn’t right. On the other hand, my friends treated it with affection once they rode in it.

Is it better than the competition? Well, not having driven the new Subaru Forester, I would say that it is as good as the rest save the RAV4 with the V6 which gets nearly the same fuel mileage with an engine that produces almost 100 more horsepower. On the down side the RAV has the rear mounted spare tire I deplore.

Family conference: Having a Versa and Rogue in your garage would be a swell pair for a family into utility and saving money. They are perfectly matched and the Rogue is as much SUV as you are ever going to need unless you are into towing or need a third seat. We enjoyed our time with this Nissan, but are worried that many potential buyers are going to ignore it because of the cargo space and pricing. Nevertheless, this is among the very best crossover utes and Rogue in name only.

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Nissan Murano: Highly visable

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for more vehicle reviews go to

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Nissan Murano SE AWD is a difficult vehicle to categorize. Is it a tall station wagon, SUV, or minivan? Well, to be honest it really doesn’t matter because if you like the exterior styling you’re not going to find anything like this so pay the $31,000 to $42,000 (US) and enjoy your choice. However, beware of visibility problems to the sides and rear.

Two problems immediately arise when testing the upgraded Murano SE. The first is that the ride is sportier than others in this price range. It is not that we don’t appreciate a firm ride on a car designed to handle curved roads, but on a high riding SUV that can result in overconfidence and, as all SUVs, the high center of gravity make tipping over a constant reality.

The second problem is the pricing. When well equipped, the Murano comes face to face with the leader of this segment, the Lexus RX, when the price passes the mid $30,000 range. The Lexus rides much better and exceeds the Nissan’s people friendly attributes in all areas except acceleration and handling. Resale is heavily in the RX’s favor. Thus we recommend you look at a more basic version of the Murano if you like the style and performance.

Mom’s view: I found the visibility much better than what I thought it would be and the monitor mounted in the center of the dash was quite clear. When you put the Murano in reverse the onboard rear camera showed a clear view and made it exceptionally easy to park. I have never seen such a good view complete with lines that helped you line-up the Murano when you were unsure of its width. Excellent. I also found the interior well done with easy to read gauges and an airy feel. The seats were exceptional and there was adequate storage. If you order the SE Touring option you get leather heated seats, sunroof, adjustable pedals, and more, but at a cost in excess of $4000 US. If you can live without this options, and I could, consider passing on this package. You can also order a Technology option that offers a seven-inch monitor, GPS, the rearview camera, and a terrific driver information center. This is a desirable option for me, but it does add over $2000 to the bottom line.

Overall, I found the Murano a classy and peppy vehicle to drive. I didn’t reveal in its bean shape, but the interior was well-appointed and very user friendly. If the ride weren’t so stiff legged I wouldn’t mind owning one for winter travel. The fuel mileage was about 21 mpg, not bad for such a potent ride.

Dad’s view: Talk about walking into the lion’s den, Nissan’s Murano with its price range from about $30,000 US to over $40,000 places it in direct competition with no less than seven stellar SUVs besides the Lexus. There is the Acura MDX, the Volvo XC 90, Cadillac’s SRX, Honda Pilot, Chrysler’s Pacifica, and even the new Subaru Tribeca and Saab’s 9-7. Mercedes is also offering the new ML and Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler have whole fleets of SUVs in this price range. In fact, you can get the Ford Escape hybrid for less.

With that array of players awaiting the potential buyer Nissan has staked its bid on three factors. First, a love it or hate it shape. Secondly, a potent engine that provides 245 horsepower through an all wheel drive set up that works effortlessly. Finally, a sporty ride that separates it from its stalemates, the Nissan Pathfinder, Xterra, and bulky Armada.

Essentially, the Murano is an Altima station wagon as it uses the same structure and most of the same underpinnings. The Murano comes in three versions starting with the bargain priced S, the more subdued handling SL and the loaded SE. All of them utilize 4-wheel independent suspension including a multi-link rear suspension, a 3.5-liter V6 engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission and either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Although the all wheel drive model does not have a low range transfer case, the differential can lock so that you get a 50/50 power split for tough situations and low speeds. You can shift the transmission to some extend with choices of D for normal driving, S for more acceleration, and L for when you need more power at low speeds.

There are plenty of standard features among the best being the ABS, abundance of side and front airbags, and rollover sensor. The latter is especially important because all SUVs are susceptible to rollovers and the rate of accidents for them has been climbing alarmingly. If you are serious about any SUV you might also check your insurance carrier for rates before you buy. SUVs are also more expensive to maintain, require more fuel, and have less visibility than sedans.

I would go with the SL model, maybe order the xenon lights, and certainly take the antiskid and traction control. I do like the rear camera monitor, but I have mixed feeling about the GPS. It is costly and unless you travel a great deal the unit is largely left unused. I also could not find out if you could upload new data as information can quickly become obsolete in areas of growth. You should note that Nissan pioneered the bird’s eye map view that makes for an interesting to read map, but at speed it is more difficult to follow. There is a DVD entertainment center option, too.

Visibility is surprisingly good, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a small vehicle. It is going to fill your garage up and it weighs over 4000 pounds. If you share the vehicle with someone who is either much taller or shorter than you the power pedal adjustments might be a something to be considered. I did find it difficult to see the readouts in the dash pod that contains the instruments. I think Nissan was trying to be a bit too clever as the fonts were too small to read quickly, despite the natty look. All of the switches are easy to reach, and there are even rear air-conditioning outlets.

College going male’s view: Good news. The threats from my family have succeeded and I am back at school full-time. I still have my music online if you would like to hear a sample check out http://www.simple-thoughts.net

Sound wise, the Murano has all the ingredients of a superior system, but they don’t work well together. The stereo buttons are too small, the radio reception just average, and the controls to complex for easy use while driving. For audio and visual treats, our Murano was equipped with an optional Bose seven-speaker, 225-watt stereo audio system that included an in-dash six-disc changer and XM satellite radio connection. The unit can handle MP3 CDs, but I didn’t test them.

With the technology option you get the large driver information display that shows temperature settings, audio controls, and information on the vehicle’s performance. It isn’t as difficult to use as some, but sometimes it becomes a nuisance when you just want to change the temperature setting or find your miles per gallon. After a while I don’t feel this would be a problem once you master the joystick that you push to enter the information. It makes everything a bit more difficult if you actually are trying to change anything.

Our test vehicle did have the auxiliary controls on the steering wheel that came in very handy, although the horn was less than worthy when it came to getting someone’s attention.

There are also three power outlets in this Nissan, which is a nice touch as you can plug in your whatever from the front-passenger footwell, the center console and the rear cargo area.

Rear seating is excellent and you can adjust the rake, but this is difficult to do when the car is moving. The rear seats are split and can be flipped so that a generous 82 or so cubic feet of storage is yours. As mom mentioned, the liftover is quite high even for me.

The Murano is much better than the overrated BMW X5 when it comes to performance and the Nissan costs a lot less. Too bad people won’t probably be cross-shopping these two because if you were blindfolded you would always choose the Murano. I got about 22 mpg with the Nissan, or nearly 8 mpg more than the BMW.

In our mountain test section the continuous variable transmission performed exceptionally. It even automatically holds the Murano in a lower gear as you go down step grades to prevent overheating the brakes. By the way, the four wheel vented discs were above average, but don’t expect neck snapping stopping as they Murano weighs over two tons. The Brake Assist and electronic brake force distribution system help control the Nissan by varying the pressure to each wheel as it is needed.

Young working woman’s view: The shape never appealed to me, but I thought the interior was modern and even a touch elegant. Driving was very easy with a high seating position and above average handling, braking, and acceleration. I even found the fuel mileage acceptable for such a large vehicle. I was surprised that there were three areas in the center console for storage and also room in the door pockets and glove compartment. The rear cargo bay can easily hold enough groceries for a week and the rear hatch opens easily, although there is a high liftover.

Getting in and out wasn’t too difficult and the turning radius was quite good. I could easily park this Murano without having to do a three-point turn. Actually, I have nothing negative to report other than the overly complicated driver’s computer and the small gauges. I wasn’t looking forward to testing this Murano, but in the end I found I had learned to love it.

Family conference: If you like the way the Nissan Murano looks, there is no reason not to consider this SUV. However, watch the option list carefully because they are bundled. Also take it for a long ride over roughed up roads to make sure you can live with the sporty suspension. Finally, take a close look at your needs. The Murano does not have third row seating. On the other hand it is easy to drive and certainly distinctive. We have friends who bought one and swear by it for both daily transportation and long trips. She has a bad back so they ordered the more comfortable SL version and it already has 60,000 trouble free miles on it. For the websites of most every manufacture of cars and motorcycles go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html