Test vehicles MSRP:
Seating Capacity: 5 occupants
Standard Safety Features:
Equinox LTZ: airbags; ABS; traction control; a tire pressure monitoring system; a rear vision camera system and a rear park assist system
Murano SL: airbags; ABS; traction control; electronic brake distribution; and a tire pressure monitoring system
Standard and Optional Features Included:
Equinox LTZ: 18-inch wheels; leather (heated front) seats; power seats; sliding/reclining rear seat; tilt-and-telescopic steering; cruise control; automatic rearview mirror; OnStar turn-by-turn radio-activated navigation system; power programmable liftgate; a forward collision alert system; and a lane departure warning system
Murano SL: 18-inch wheels; power seats; memory driver’s seat; leather (heated) front seats; leather heated steering wheel; tilt-and-telescopic steering; dual-zone automatic temperature control; keyless push button starter; dual panel sunroof; automatic headlights; power liftgate; and a navigation system with real-time traffic and weather
Equinox LTZ: 8-speaker AM/FM//CD Player with 3-month XM satellite radio subscription
Murano SL: 9-speaker Bose AM/FM/CD and dual speaker subwoofer with 3-month XM satellite radio subscription
Equinox: 3-year/36,000 miles
Murano: 3-year/ 36,000 miles
Equinox: 5-year/100,000 miles
Murano: 5-year/60,000 miles
Equinox LTZ: Yes
Murano SL: Yes
Equinox LTZ: Yes
Murano SL: Yes
Equinox LTZ: No
Murano SL: Yes
Equinox LTZ: 3.0-liter, 6-cyl./264-hp
Murano SL: 3.5-liter, 6-cyl./260-hp
Standard Fuel Mileage:
Equinox LTZ: 17-city/24-highway
Murano SL: 18-city/24-highway
Equinox LTZ: 31.5 cu. ft.
Murano SL: 31.6 cu. ft.
Equinox: The current-generation Equinox received its last major overhaul in 2009. Since then, GM has made minor tweaks along the way, keeping the vehicle fresh. For the 2012 model year, the Equinox adds a new seven-inch touchscreen with a USB port. Also all Equinoxs now include blind-spot mirrors. And as far as tech features, the Equinox is now available with a lane-changing departure warning system, a standard back-up camera in upgraded trim levels, Bluetooth connectivity and Chevy’s Mylink system, which integrates smartphones with Pandora and Stitcher. Furthermore, the compact crossover also receives new shoes for the model year, a set of 18-inch chrome wheels are available on higher end trim levels.
Murano: The curvaceous crossover received a mid-cycle overhaul during the 2011 model year. Besides the mid-year refresh, a high-end Platinum edition is added to the line up for the 2012 model year. With this new premium trim package, buyers can expect 20-inch alloy wheels, which will not only improve the overall look, but the ride, too.
The Verdict: Both crossovers offer a car-like ride, seating for five and loads of high-tech gadgets. With that being the case, there are a number of factors that differentiate both rides. For instance, unlike the more angular exterior design of GM’s Equinox, the curvaceous Murano offers a stylish flair with its swoopy-like design. And, while the Chevy offers a more traditional design, consumers who snap-up the vehicle can expect to save fuel too. Buyers who opt for the Chevy will find that the Equinox requires unleaded fuel, while the Nissan Murano requires premium fuel. Conversely, the premium fuel in the Nissan only garners a slight improvement in fuel economy. For the life of us, we don’t understand why Nissan requires premium fuel in its 6-cylinder in a day and time where consumers are penny pinching.
Moreover, while the Chevy Equinox was outfitted with GM’s signature OnStar system, which includes a 6-month voice-activated, turn-by-turn navigation system, the high-end vehicle trim we reviewed lacked an optional navigation system. Unfortunately, once the 6-months are up, buyers will have to fork out extra money to renew the turn-by-turn voice-activated direction system, live without it or rely on their smartphone (or some other type of gadget.)
And, unless one is purely driven to buy the Nissan, one can manage to get a well-equipped Chevy for about $6,000 less than the Murano. With that price differential, the Chevy adds a lane departure alert warning system and a forward collision alert system, both a first in this segment. These high-tech safety features are only available in the Chevy when buyers opt for the six-cylinder engine.
Overall, both vehicles offer a lot of bang for the buck. In some cases, pricing for these compact crossovers bump-up against crossovers like Kia’s Sorrento, which offers seven-passenger seating, leather, a six-cylinder engine and dual sunroofs for a hair under $34,000. So as one can tell, this is a buyers market for those seeking an alternative to cars, minivans and traditional truck-like SUVs.
Competition: Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.