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Styling Misfires:
The Nissan Murano Redesign

April 17, 2012 by Matt

Nissan Murano

Nissan Murano

Nissan’s refresh of the Murano between its 1st and 2nd generation is the design equivalent of taking away with your right hand what you add with your left.

Granted, the Murano hasn’t exactly been a flop, sales-wise. I do see a fair number of them on the road, and the car remains a stable part of Nissan’s lineup. But it still represents a classic case of how to improve styling in one area while ruining it in another.

What am I referring to? The front and rear of the car. Examine the pictures above. The top two depict the newer, 2nd generation, ’09+ car, and the bottom two show the original, ’02-’07 vehicle. What Nissan did, essentially, is vastly improve the look of the car’s nose while designing away all the personality of the rear. Lest you think I’m splitting hairs, keep an eye out for examples of each car on the road; the impression is even stronger in person than in pictures.

The 1st generation Murano’s front end cleaved to Nissan’s corporate styling philosophy of the time—it’s sharp, angular, geometric and altogether awkward. The ’09+ car’s fascia, by contrast, is much more cohesive and handsome, as if they had taken the original, given it a shave and a facelift and managed to make it more striking at the same time. Well done there.

But…Nissan went the opposite direction with the Murano’s rear. The ’02-’07 car’s taillights and rump were arguably the most successful area of the car, styling-wise. Significantly, they were distinctive—you could pick them out in a badge-less lineup of mid-size crossovers—and they integrated with the car’s overall lines in the way they flowed up and over the rear wheel arches. But with the 2nd generation Murano, all that character and context is gone; the taillights look arbitrarily placed, and like they could pull double-duty on any econobox further down in Nissan’s lineup.

One step forward, one step back for the Murano. It’s a shame when designers don’t recognize where they’ve gone right and preserve, or at least minimally update, those styling elements.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series wherein I discuss unsuccessful cars whose styling was their overlooked (or denied) Achilles heel. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: Aesthetics, Nissan, Styling Misfires

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