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My Murano's in for service... Leaking transmission/transfer case, unidentified whirring noise that's really annoying, squeaky drivers seat, oil change and tire rotation.

So I'm renting a car. Since they had a Chrysler 300 available, I thought I'd try one. This is the 3.5 litre V6 so it's a good comparison level against the Murano.

Did a bit of playing around yesterday. It's been raining a fair bit (wonder why?) so I got to see how good/bad RWD is again with wet roads.

I'll just start with random thoughts and as time goes on, organise them, if it's worth doing.

First of all, I'm not keen on the 300's styling, however it seems to grow on me. I miss the Murano's chrome door handles on the outside. This one's body coloured. I have it in the Vanilla colour, which in itself is OK, but with the mandatory grey interior, it does look a little stupid. A tan interior would have set it off.

The cloth seats look a bit cheap after my SL's cloth. The instrument cluster looks very flat and at times I found it looked a bit cheap as well. At night it glows a greenish blue, like the electroluminescent display colour, so I like it.

The radio is not a high end one, but delivers OK. Of course, no climate control in this one either, so that took some getting used to as well. (I'm spoiled!)

The seats, radio and climate control are all things that I would have upgraded to leather, navigation system and the usual set it and leave it at a temperature. I test drove a Magnum R/T a while back and they were all there and fine...

At first I got on the highway and the handling was terrible, I hated it ... However I was on my way to a gas station to put some air in one of the tires as it looked a bit low. Recommended tire pressure on the door was 30 lbs. I checked them and found 40 in all tires except the right rear, which was at 16! So I bled 3 and pumped up the last. Naturally the handling improved dramatically. However it still has a bit of boat feeling, not quite as nice as the Murano. (Yet it was good to be lower, in some aspects.)

My Brother in Law who has a Cherokee, drove the Murano from the rental car place to the Nissan dealer. His first comment "That thing really drives weird. It pushes like crazy in the corners." I asked him to describe further and what he was saying was understeer. It reminded me of when I first got it and I found that it seemed to handle a bit funny to me, mainly, I think, because of the wheels being so far out on the corners. Parallel parking was different for the same reason.

So with the tires all happy at 32 lbs each, we went looking for a big empty industrial parking lot. It took a couple of minutes for me to click in to RWD driving skills mode, and then I had to work for about 10 minutes to overcome my natural reaction to understeer and back off on the gas when the back end hinted at sliding in corners. Light rain... Perfect!

Once I did, I found the Chrysler ESP works incredibly well!!! Accelerating from a stop in the wet, I could break the rear wheels loose initially, but the ESP detected the slip and when the rear end was drifting to the right from the camber of the road, it intelligently selected either the left or right rear brakes to control it, as well as adjusting the throttle on my behalf. I had it floored at one point, yet it was only at partial throttle, taking the vehicle up to speed gently ( I was going around a corner) and as soon as I was straight line, cranked up the engine.

Pushing it around some corners and keeping the gas on, the back end would start to slide out and ESP would detect it and independantly manage the brakes and throttle to take me around quickly and safely. It was still a little uncomfortable for me to do this, as I am so conditioned to having a RWD car spin right around on me, in those circumstances.

ESP can be turned off so of course, I had to try it. RWD? Should be good for doing donuts? Right? ESP wouldn't let me do it. It let me turn in a very controlled manner, with some slippage when I first hammered it. Turn off ESP? Wheeee...... Nice fun donuts like any old RWD car.

Try to do a burnout from a standstill? ESP on? No way. Off? Literally smoked the rear tires (been a while since I've seen that!) and put on a nice show, but no one there to see it, except for my brother in law in the passenger seat.

Yes, only the 3.5 litre engine, but it was a little wet, so that helped.

Over all I found the car very controllable and it was fun to play, but the reality of normal driving is the ESP is on and you're not trying to see how much rubber you can paint on the roads and peel out of your wallet.

Is it better than driving the Murano? Hmmm... It's different.

I like the control I have, yet RWD won't beat AWD for traction. However I don't like how the Murano holds you back at low speeds to save stress on the CVT.

Oh speaking of transmissions... Shift lag. While most of the time it wasn't an issue, on occasion I noticed it and it annoyed me. The 300C has a different transmission (like the Magnum R/T) and it seemed much better on my test drive. But this was only an issue when I was in boy racer mode. Normal driving it was fine.

The CVT is always in the right gear.... ;)

There was a dash rattle that seemed to come and go at different speeds. I didn't notice it 99% of the time as it wasn't severe and constant.

This 300 has 24,000 Km on it. My daughter doesn't like the high window openings, as she's just short enough in the back seat to only see roof tops and tree tops.

The dog got on the front seat at one point and the car turned off the passenger air bag, as it detected weight that was not appropriate.

Drivers door has the auto down on the window, but no auto up. Passenger door has neither. I couldn't make the windows go down by holding the remote button either.

Had a sun roof. I miss having a sun roof.

Mirrors don't fold, so hopfully they won't hit something hard one day.

It's longer than the Murano. I had to move some stuff in the garage to make it fit in.

Would I trade my Murano for a 300? No. But I might for a Hemi equipped Magnum with all the toys optioned in. I did enjoy driving the 300, it just lacked a number of things I want in the toy department, and the cloth seats looked cheap.

Depending on how long they have my Murano in for service, I may be switching the 300 for a Magnum rental on Tuesday.

Last thoughts? RWD with ESP works very well, but it's still RWD with ESP and on those particularly slick days, like freezing rain, the Murano's AWD will beat it. Reality? How much do I crave a fire breathing RWD monster again? How many days of the year have freezing rain?

The Murano sure did look nice as I was following it in the 300. I kept thinking, all the time, how great it looked in traffic. Sometimes you forget!

I wouldn't stop anyone pursuing getting one of these. I did like driving it. But again, it depends on what you're looking for, if it will make you happy.

I still have the Murano for another year and a bit. But I keep thinking an SRT8 Magnum would be fun. Maybe I should just rent one on occasion, when I buy my next Murano...:D
 

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Jaak,

Interesting observations. I travel a lot and rent many different cars. So far neither of them got even close to the Murano handling, except of course MB C-class. But C class is almost a benchmark…. As you I do miss RWD and living in the South I not really care about AWD, stability control would be more then enough. If nothing changes my next car will be M35. During last FX service I had a look at M35 and loved it! I did not even want test drive as I knew I would end up with buying it! I am a little impulse buyer when it comes to toys............Of course there are things in Murano that I would definitely miss – CVT, roominess, higher sitting…..but you cannot get everything in one package. Everything is a compromise……And yes, it is annoying that you cannot really gun Murano at the start. It is held back so badly. Hey, these are just my loose thoughts….
 

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jaak-

Good review. It sounds like you had a great time testing the ESP!

-njjoe
 

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Interesting tidbits.

Since I have retired I don't get a chance to rent many cars anymore.

Sounds like the 300 is a good car.

Lots of good comments about what is essentially a rental mule.
Mules are never equipped right.

Homer
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yesterday was a wet day, but only a very light rain, so the roads were slick.

I'll be out again today and I'm hopeful that it will be dry so I can see what it's like there...

Kris, interesting comment about the C class, as I've also wondered about that as a choice as well as a 3 series... I can't help but wonder how much technology has fallen through into the LX's from Daimler. There were parts that screamed "I'm German design!" when I went through a tour of the LX plant in Brampton, Ontario. I know the higher end transmission is Daimler's design. I understand much of the suspension is from them as a well as the ESP system being OEM'd from the same manufacturer.

Since I've still got until Jan 07 with the Murano, I've got lots of time to research.

One thing I'll admit to with the 300. I sure had a lot of fun! However, I'm still wondering if, after so long with FWD and AWD if I'm ready to go back to RWD!

Homer, yes I agree on the configuration of the rental.... So to be fair, I've taken what would be negatives and ignored them based on my exposure to what else is available as options. I wouldn't get the 3.5 litre V6 either, yet it's a vehicle I could live with, if forced into one.

I must admit, my brother in law egged me on to do the tire smoker.... It ran through the gears with white smoke billowing out the back. Now I know it's easy to do, I don't expect I'll be doing it again. But it was amusing!

It could be the stock tires made it easy to do, so that makes me wonder how good they are vs. the torque of the 300's engine.

I have to pick up a couple of doors this evening, so I'll see how good the trunk/rear seat folded down is at taking larger loads.

My local Nissan dealer is conspicuously absent in feedback this morning. So I may be into the Magnum on Tuesday, at this rate...
 

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Jaak, i still love my murano but...

I dont think I will keep it for more than 3 yrs. Once I am close to the 30K milage, I am selling it for another vehicle. My Murano reliability has been good! Yet, everytime I drive it, I am imagining my self driving a sports car; talk about mid life crisis! (I am 28 and it should have been "1/4-life" crisis :2: )

I am single, and I can leave with a sports car as my primary vehicle.
The 06 SLK280 always makes me drool.. :4:
 

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Jaak,

I drove MB C-class on my recent trip to Germany and despite it being rental “mule” (As Homer would put it) with small diesel engine I was surprised with handling. My average speed on the autobahn was 100 mph, topping 120mph. Even at that speed I felt very stable. But C class is much too small for me.

Murano in my opinion is best family car you can get – roomy, safe, great cruiser, well handling, reasonably priced. However, on rare occasions when I get to drive the FX (yes, it is HER Car!), and after driving the MB I am convinced a good. RWD sedan is the way to go. I still remember driving Holden’s Commodore and Ford’s Falcon both RWD powerful cars on unsealed Aussie roads. It was great fun! I miss it! So the next car will definitely be RWD. Which one – time will show. In the mean time I will love my Murano, its roominess, smooth drive, powerful drive train….

Sugar - just go for it! Do not worry we still will welcome you on this board! ;)
 

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Its always great to hear reviews. Being an MO owners its nice to get a point of view from a baseline we all have in common.

Its interesting that you guys refer to the C class MB. The reason I got my MO was due to the fact that I was using my C-320 Sport as a baseline of comparison when I got my MO.The C-320 by far has been, and is my favorite car that I have owned.

When I went on my quest for another auto it all boiled down to comparing it to the MB and honestly the MO came as close as I could get in an ?SUV?

Im a convenience package, comfort, and handling guy. The MO came closest to filling every need and want I had. I drove them all..... Over 10 different models and brands.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Great, now I have to go drive a C class to get a point of reference...:D
 

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Add me to the list of people that want to go back to RWD.

Good comparison. I haven't looked at the interior of the 300 - how does it compare to a Non-RT Magnum? I like the RT interior - the stock is kinda blah.
 

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Make sure it's a C320 or better yet.....

Drive an E and be done with it. I also recommend a drive of the Tourage and the Passat.

Now with the, 300, C,E, Passat, & Tourage + the Mo under your belt I bet you'll buy the ...............


jaak said:
Great, now I have to go drive a C class to get a point of reference...:D
 

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Re: Make sure it's a C320 or better yet.....

GripperDon said:

Now with the, 300, C,E, Passat, & Tourage + the Mo under your belt I bet you'll buy the ...............
MB :D
If you have the means to pay for it.
Your looking at 15-20K more for a comparable model with all the right toys.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, truth be known, if I get an LX, I'm getting an SRT8 or at the minimum an R/T. (The price difference for the R/T is bigger for me than most, as I have family that work at Daimler Chrysler, so they can get me a discount on the R/T, but not the SRT.)

So riding in the rentals is like trying to see the vehicles in a worse light and seeing if I still like them.

After lunch I switched to the Magnum. The Murano's waiting on parts.

Drives similar from what I've seen so far. Which I would expect, being the same car underneath.

Still have the 3.5 litre, no sunroof in this one. I like the Magnum's dash a lot better. It's more attractive and has more depth to it. Same blah seats, but the level I'd buy at, that's not an issue. Actually, the Magnum's blah seats are a better looking material. The SRT's seats are nice.

I have to try loading some big boxes in it, for the real test.

I noticed the disks say Bosch on them. Good old German component, Canadian built, American RWD car.

Don, I love driving VW's and like a lot of the products, but I'm still stinging from being gouged on parts prices on my Passat in the early eighties. But that baby sure could take corners fast. I look at some of the roads I drove in it, and knowing for example, a local highway off ramp that I took at 60 mph a number of times, I'm astounded. No way I'd do that now. Well, I couldn't even if I wanted to, 'cause 20 years later the traffic is way to busy. And even my old Passat only used 3 wheels most of the time through it.

Ahh... Maybe it's time to have a look at them again. Do they make a fire breathing RWD station wagon? This is part of the attraction with the Magnum. Not giving up the carrying capability of the Murano. Well, not all of it. To get back into a vehicle that's more like a car again.

I don't know if that's what I want, but I liked driving the 300. I like the Magnum more.

It's been dry today, so it wasn't possible to break the rear wheels loose unless I really tried very hard, in both the 300 and the Magnum, with the 3.5 V6. I had the ESP turned off and all was fine.

They're both bad cars if you like hanging your arm out the window. That's not something I do, but I did try resting my arm on it, and it's a little weird. Just an experiment, but not a consideration.

Considering what I have to carry around with me, at times, I like that the Magnums windows are tinted, like the Muranos...

I may have this for a couple of days, the way things are going.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Oh, one note on the rental company.

The 300 had 40 lbs in three tires and 16 in the left rear. Made it handle terrible on the highway. Fixed that immediately and things were happy.

The Magnum had 24 all around. Bumped it up to 32.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm still curious as to how I'll feel about the Murano when I go back to it.

Right now, I could just keep driving the Magnum, except it needs some missing options.

Other rental cars I've had, I've really hated.
 
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