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2020 Nissan Murano vs. Maxima: How Much Space Do You Really Need?

If you’re interested in a Nissan that skirts the lines of luxury, you’ll probably lean toward the Maxima or the Murano. Both the Maxima and the Murano are smooth cruisers that offer lots of charms. But how would you decide between the two?

Driving the 2020 Nissan Murano 

Nissan Murano with the sunset in the background
2020 Nissan Murano | Nissan

Nissan’s Murano has fierce competition thanks to newcomers like the Kia Telluride and consistent favorites, including the Toyota Highlander. Even so, the Murano has earned fans thanks to its powerful engine and unique, curvy shape. It has decent fuel economy ratings for the midsize SUV class too. 

The Murano features a 260-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine linked to a continuously variable automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel-drive is available. This Nissan did well overall in its Consumer Reports road test. In CR’s test, the Murano went from 0-to-60 mph in under eight seconds and returned a combined 21 mpg. 

While the Murano gets kudos for its comfortable driving experience, there are some flaws to consider. The Murano’s slanted design can impede a driver’s outward view. Its CVT is “quirky.” Additionally, CR found that its vague steering “robs” a driver’s confidence. Still, it’s a secure ride overall.

Driving the 2020 Nissan Maxima 

A red Nissan Maxima driving on the track.
2020 Nissan Maxima | Nissan

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The Maxima is a mixed-bag performance-wise. Its strengths are its speedy acceleration and fuel efficiency. Plus, the Maxima has the same V6 engine that the Murano does. However, the Maxima’s is more powerful. It produces 300-hp, which gives you 40 more horses than the Murano can. 

In CR’s road test, the Maxima hit 60 mph in under seven seconds and returned 25 mpg overall. Many reviewers admit that the Maxima is enjoyable to drive, but it’s not as sporty as Nissan claims it to be. That said, you may be interested in one of the Maxima’s direct rivals, the Mazda6.

Other critiques for the Maxima are similar to the Murano’s. The Maxima’s CVT isn’t for everyone. Steering is vague. Outward visibility isn’t the greatest either. 

Comparing car cabins 

A 2020 Murano with beige leather seats.
2020 Nissan Murano with leather seats | Nissan

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The Murano can comfortably seat five. Critics praise the Murano for its plush cabin that’s reminiscent of a Lexus. The Murano is standard with cloth upholstery; synthetic leather and genuine leather are available. In addition to its roomy cabin, the Murano also provides sufficient cargo space. With the seats folded down, the Murano has 67 cubic feet of cargo space. 

A 2020 Maxima with brown quilted leather.
2020 Nissan Maxima interior with quilted leather | Nissan

Especially compared to the Murano, the Maxima’s standard interior looks plain. You can spice it up with leather also, which gives it a more luxurious feel. Like the Murano, the Maxima has seats for five people. The drawback, though, is that its cabin space is so-so. It doesn’t have much headroom for taller passengers and only has 14.3 cubic feet of cargo room. That’s low for the large sedan class.

Both the Murano and the Maxima come with modern infotainment features including, an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. They also have a long list of active safety features. These include forward-collision, blind-spot monitoring, and driver drowsiness monitoring. 

So, would you pick the Murano or the Maxima?

The Nissan Murano at the Annual Chicago Auto Show
The Nissan Murano on display | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The MSRP range for a 2020 Murano is $31,730 – $45,530; the 2020 Maxima’s is $34,450 – $41,840. You’ll want to go with Murano for a plush ride with extra cabin space. But if you can live without the extra room, the Maxima is a better choice for a quicker driving experience and fuel efficiency.