I USED to think of Nissan as one of the more staid Japanese manufacturers but in actual fact it's one of those companies that has a habit of taking you by surprise.
The splendidly sporty 350Z is one of those models that helped redefine an entire brand a few years back and now there's the GT-R to look forward too.
The Murano was one of Nissan's surprises when it was first unveiled. I would even go as far to suggest it had something of the 'wow' factor.
The company called it a crossover, claiming it was the only genuine crossover between an SUV and a family estate - others being estates that have had their suspension heightened, offered four-wheel-drive and featured slightly more rugged looks.
The Murano, which towards the end of last year underwent a facelift, is more of an SUV than anything.
In size and stature it is big and purposeful, though it has an elegant rather than a functional look typical of many SUVs.
To my mind it combines style, poise and presence into a clever package.
It's a little like the bigger brother of the imaginative and impressive Quashqai - the SUV that isn't really an SUV.
But whereas the Quashqai seems like a logical alternative to someone wanting something different from a family hatch, saloon or estate, the Murano looks increasingly like one of those cars people don't really want to buy any more.
The main reason is that despite the facelift there is still only one option - a 3.5-litre V6.
In this day and age you really need to be offering diesel as an option with a vehicle like this.
The fact there isn't probably has something to do with the fact the Murano was first and foremost created for the American market, where compared to some of the monstrous SUVs available there probably looks a bit like a supermini.
It was even designed in California, though it underwent some fairly hefty revisions for the European market.
If running costs were irrelevant the Murano really would have much to recommend it.
That 3.5-litre V6 is sweet and smooth and mated to an excellent CVT transmission it is a match made in heaven.
It's a very enjoyable car to drive and the process feels pretty effortless too. Most of those European market alterations focused on driving dynamics and performance and it really does show.
The Murano has quite a squat stance, with minimal overhangs and the aim is also to deliver better handling with minimal body roll. In this respect it delivers the goods and feels sharp and is fun to drive.
When pushed hard through corners you start to experience a little bit of roll but at more sensible speeds the Murano feels stable and composed.
In addition to offering a good drive the Murano also boasts a considerable level of comfort delivering a sedate and cosseting ride, a difficult blend to achieve it has to be said.
Another selling point is what you get for your money. Unlike manufacturers who enjoy a hefty payday through optional extras the Murano delivers pretty much everything in a standard package.
So you get leather seats, electronically adjustable front seats, climate control, a colour rear view camera and a nearside kerb camera, a purpose-built 11 speaker Bose sound system and Birdview DVD satellite navigation system. These are just some of the items on an extensive list of 'extras' that require no additional outlay.
Overall the Murano delivers a lot in a single package but while I can see it being the kind of car that people would fall in love with and have one whatever the cost, anyone who takes a cold, hard and logical approach may well look elsewhere.
In these cost-conscious times that engine is likely to be seen as just too much of an extravagance, though in line with the general trend for engine development it does return an extra three miles to the gallon on the combined cycle than its predecessor, as well as offering significantly enhanced performance.
Mechanical: 252bhp, 3,498cc, 6cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox
Max speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 8.1 secs
Combined mpg: 25.9
Insurance group: 16
CO2 emissions: 261g/km
BiK rating: 35%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles