INTERIOR

The Murano's interior caters to families, with everything within reach and well-placed.

In the front row, the seats were comfortable and heated in my test car. The fabric upholstery looked somewhat velvety and posh, but if you've got babies and sippy cups or bottles, you may want to opt up for leather seating surfaces.

The 2011 Murano's instrument panel has a sophisticated-looking set of gauges. The chrome accents give it a traditional feel. There was thought in the design of the stereo and climate controls; brushed-metal-looking buttons and knobs are incorporated in a long bar, and they were sleek yet easy to identify and use. The look complemented the rest of the interior.

At MotherProof.com, we often complain about technology that's too complicated to use. In the Murano, the Bluetooth hands-free phone system was a cinch to use. It was easy to pair up my phone and use the system in a heartbeat. Yay for simple, easy technology!

In the backseat, I have to mention the flat floor. I could put my purse back there if I needed without it falling into one of the footwells. The lack of hump (stop your giggling right now) enabled Nissan to put a nifty cubby in the center console's rear end, so the kids could put stuff in there. The kids were also happy with the legroom and the dual moonroof. Backseat passengers like a little light and it helped to lighten up the black velvety interior.

As for other happy things in the Murano, I must mention the 60/40-split flat-folding rear seats. They are so easy to use; from the cargo space, you just pull a handle on either side and the seats fold flat. Boom, that's it. It's not complicated, it's not tricky and it doesn't involve lots of hurdles and lurching and grunting. Thank you, Murano!

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