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2021 Nissan Murano vs. 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Its veteran versus rookie in this mid-size 2-row SUV showdown.

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2021 Nissan Murano

Starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $34,298 CAD

Pros

  • Less expensive front-wheel-drive trim
  • Relatively excellent fuel economy
  • Generous front passenger space

Cons

  • One powerplant only
  • Shy on cargo space 
  • Limited towing

 

2021 Nissan Murano - Highlights

Since its arrival for the 2003 model year, Nissan’s Murano has been a staple of the mid-size 2-row/5-passenger SUV segment. The current 3rd-generation debuted for 2015 and remains refined, with a comfortable nature that has kept the Nissan SUV competitive among newer rivals, like the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.

Through 5 trim levels, the Murano's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices start at $34,298 in Canadian dollars for the base front-wheel-drive (FWD) S trim. Standard equipment highlights include NissanConnect 8.0-inch touchscreen and Voice Recognition for audio, Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and heated front seats. All-wheel-drive (AWD) is also available, starting with the $40,298 SV trim and tops out at $47,098 for the Platinum. Also note while Nissan offers a 3-year/60,000-kilometre comprehensive warranty, Volkswagen adds another year and an additional 20,000 kilometres of factory coverage.

Inside, the Murano’s driver and passenger seats offer good comfort and range of position. Ergonomically, a few controls are placed strangely (like the audio volume buttons at the lower left on the steering wheel). With its 2nd-row of seats stowed, the Murano offers up to 908 litres of cargo space.

The Nissan SUV’s sole powertrain is a 3.5-litre 6-cylinder gas engine that makes 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. The V6 is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission, which feels closer to a traditional automatic.

The Murano drives comfortably and a bit more luxe than you might think a mainstream brand’s product would. Its suspension deals with bumps and potholes with calm composure. You can quickly eat up the kilometres on the highway and enjoy a lack of fuss on city streets. One other caveat and a result of the excellent ride comfort is that the Murano’s handling agility suffers because of the relative cushiness, so driving fun is not high on its list of talents.

 

2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $39,495 CAD

Pros

  • Roomy 2nd-row seats
  • Voluminous cargo area
  • Generous towing capacity

Cons

  • Higher trim levels get pricey
  • Unimpressive fuel economy
  • No front-wheel-drive option

 

2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport– Highlights

The 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is built on the same platform as the mid-size 3-row VW Atlas, but it’s a 2-row/5-passenger SUV with a coupé-inspired roofline and generally sportier styling.

Prices start with the base $39,495 Trendline that gets a turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine available on all trims. A V6 is a $2,200 option beginning with the $44,595 Comfortline trim. The most expensive Cross Sport is the $55,595 Execline/V6 combo. The VW SUV justifies its higher base price over the Nissan SUV with more standard gear, highlighted by AWD, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor/Rear Traffic Alert, and VW’s 8-inch Digital Cockpit driver’s instrumentation. However, compared to the Murano, Atlas Cross Sport prices can get steep in the upper trim levels.

The VW SUV’s interior design is simple yet elegant, with high-quality materials and an attractive, crisp design. Controls are easy to reach, and features like the Digital Cockpit (VW’s optional fully digital gauge cluster) add some upscale tech. People who don’t need that extra 3rd-row for passengers benefit from a flat, gap-free cargo floor, plus a vast (1,142 litres) cargo area, without the need to fold down seats. Plus, the Atlas Cross Sport has another advantage over its Nissan rival—a roomier back seat.

The Atlas Cross Sport comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder gas engine that makes 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The optional 3.6-litre V6 generates 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Both engines use an 8-speed automatic transmission. And both VW’s 4-cylinder (rated at 2,000 pounds/907 kilograms) and V6 (5,000 pounds/2,268 kilograms) can tow more than the Murano’s V6 (1,500 pounds/680 kilograms).

Whichever engine you choose, the Atlas Cross Sport is comfortable and compliant, and its handling is good for a vehicle of this size. If you want to improve the Cross Sport’s throttle response, steering feel, and shift speeds, selecting Sport Mode makes driving this VW SUV a lot more fun.

 

Final Recommendation

If you prioritize rear cargo room over the need to ferry around more than 5 occupants, both the 2021 Nissan Murano and 2022 VW Atlas Cross Sport offer much value in a crowded category.

If you don’t need AWD and want to save a few bucks at purchase time, the Murano’s base FWD trim and better fuel economy over the Atlas Cross Sport may be reasons enough for you to choose the Nissan.

However, with its larger cabin, choice of powerplants, longer warranty, and the ability to tow more, the Atlas Cross Sport is the better pick.

 

Specs

2021 Nissan Murano

2022 VW Atlas Cross Sport

Engine(s)

3.5-litre Turbocharged V6

2.0-litre Turbocharged I4

3.6-litre V6

Horsepower

260 hp @ 6,000 rpm

2.0T - 235 hp @ 4,500 rpm

V6 - 276 hp @ 6,200 rpm

Torque

240 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm

2.0T - 258 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm

V6 – 266 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm

Transmission

Continuously variable automatic

8-speed automatic

 

Drivetrain

S - Front-wheel-drive

SV/SL/Midnight Edition/Platinum – All-wheel-drive

All-wheel-drive

Fuel Economy

FWD – 10.2L/100 km (11.7 city, 8.3 hwy)

AWD – 10.4 L/100 km (12.0 city, 8.5 hwy)

2.0T – 10.9 L/100 km (11.7 city, 10.0 hwy)

V6  – 12.3 L/100 km (13.8 city, 10.4 hwy)

Warranty

3 years/60,000 kilometres

4 years/80,000 kilometres

Max Seating Capacity

5

5

Wheelbase

2,825 mm

2,980 mm

Overall Length

4,890 mm

4,966 mm

Width

1,916 mm

1,990 mm

Height

1,722 mm

1,723 mm

Curb Weight

1,734.1 kg

1,755-1,896 kg

Headroom, Front

1,014  mm

1,000 mm

Headroom, Rear

1,011 mm

961 mm

Legroom, Front

1,028 mm

1,088 mm

Legroom, Rear

982 mm

918 mm

Shoulder Room, Front

1,512 mm

1,563 mm

Shoulder Room, Rear

1,495 mm

1,540 mm

Cargo Volume Behind Rear Seats

908 L

1,142 L

Maximum Towing Capacity

1,500 lbs (680 kgs)

 

2.0T - 2,000 lbs (907 kgs)

V6 – 5,000 lbs (2,268 kgs)

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