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2015 Nissan Murano Test Drive

Nissan Murano 2015

 (Nissan)

I’m technically old enough to be an empty nester, but I got started with the family thing a little late in life and still have a good 12 years to go before I officially qualify.

Nevertheless, I’ve got plenty of physical ailments, I wake up in the middle of every night and I love few things more than whining about how hard easy chairs are these days. So I think I’m more than qualified to evaluate the 2015 Nissan Murano.

I’m serious. Nissan has gone out of its way to point out that its all-new midsize crossover is a semi-premium play for folks who are dancing into their golden years footloose and kid-free, who don’t need a big SUV anymore but just can’t give up the comfort and commanding view that one provides.

As far as views are concerned, the Murano delivers them inside and out. Its body is abstract art, and as polarizing as that usually is. It’s a collection of voluptuous curves, origami creases, boomerang-shaped lights and a grille that appears to be a doorway to infinity (the unattainable destination, not Nissan’s upscale brand.)

An optical illusion makes it appear that its roof is supported by the blackness of space, but there’s more chrome than you’ve seen since the 1950s, too. If you showed up at an auto show in this thing, I’m pretty sure they’d let you drive right through the front door and onto the stand.

Slip through the Murano’s door and you’re surrounded by a paradise of plushness not typically available for a starting price of $30,455. If this actually were an Infiniti, you’d never be the wiser. It’s lavished in soft touch surfaces and modern lines, and it’s trimmed with a material called Jasper Pearlescent, which I’m pretty sure is named after the stone, not Abe Simpson’s best friend at the Springfield Retirement Castle.

So, what about the chairs? No complaints here. The Murano’s “zero gravity” seats are constructed using a NASA-inspired design and purport to promote a neutral posture while reducing pressure points and complaints. As much as I’d like to discount that backstory as marketing mumbo jumbo, they feel … different, and a painless five-hour drive into the frozen wasteland that is upstate New York circa 2015 proved their worth. Adaptive radar cruise control, collision avoidance and lane departure warning systems also helped reduce stress along the way.

The rear seats are similarly comfy, and there’s so much legroom back there that your friends might think they’re in a limo the next time you all go to a nostalgia rock concert at the local outdoor performing arts center. The cargo bay floor is a little high, but a week’s worth of luggage for four fits fine. The only thing missing is a pass-through down the center for skis, but there’s space for those newfangled snowboards. Better still, if you’re lazy like me, the rear seatbacks can be folded and restored to their upright position remotely.

The Murano shares its platform and drivetrain with the larger but less expensive and less impressive Pathfinder. Nissan’s familiar 260 hp 3.5-liter V6 moves things along through a continuously variable transmission and a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. Both versions have a highway fuel economy rating of 28 mpg, which is stellar for the class and achievable in the real world, even in the loaded, all-wheel-drive Platinum model I tested that was fitted with mud and snow tires and priced at $43,955.

The Murano isn’t a sporty car, but it feels strong when you stomp on the throttle. It sounds good, too. There’s a nice growl from the engine bay that’s missing in many cars today. It gets along fine on a twisty road, but the steering is a little limp and the suspension is too soft to encourage you to push it.

It’s a champ on snow, however. I spent a week driving around the very white roads of Lake Placid in stormy, sub-zero temps, and it never put a foot wrong, despite my best attempt to do a four-wheel Eric Heiden impression in an empty, icy parking lot.

One feature that should satisfy children of all ages is the available NissanConnect infotainment system, which represents the company’s latest tech and is a snap to use. It has large icons, a quick-reacting touchscreen and plenty of redundant buttons and knobs if you prefer old-school inputs. An expanding collection of web-enabled apps will eventually offer Facebook and Twitter. For now, it includes Google search, which can be used to find destinations, among other things, using voice commands.

With its original style and move in an upmarket direction, the Murano now honestly competes against both the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKZ, and it even makes a strong run at the Lexus RX -- the reigning king of luxury crossovers. It’s working so far, with sales up over the last-generation model.

Those darn whippersnappers may think they’re all that, but sometimes they are.

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2015 Nissan Murano

Base price: $30,455

As tested: $43,955

Type: 5-passenger, 4-door crossover

Engine: 3.5-liter V6

Power: 260 hp, 240 lb-ft torque

Transmission: CVT automatic

MPG: 21 city/28 hwy

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.