|260||Base Horsepower (hp)||250|
|Standard||Rear Automatic Braking (available)||No|
|Yes||Front and Rear Parking Sensors (available)||No|
Wading through the overcrowded midsize crossover category to find your diamond in the rough isn't easy. With so many models to choose from, analysis paralysis can get the best of us. That's why we're comparing two of the most popular options in the group – the 2021 Nissan Murano vs 2021 Ford Edge. These two crossovers compete aggressively for buyers, but in a side-by-side comparison, there is one clear winner.
What do you look for in a midsize crossover? Most buyers want the perfect combination of value and luxury, along with plenty of safety features and infotainment, and connected services to make driving more enjoyable. It may seem impossible to find everything you want in a single vehicle, but in fact, one of these just-right-sized crossovers delivers the goods.
First impressions matter, which is why our winner reveals itself almost upon first glance. The 2021 Murano features a dynamic and sleek exterior design that hints at the over-the-top luxury found in the cabin. It's not that the Ford Edge isn't good-looking, per se, but in terms of curb appeal, it's no contest. For so many crossover buyers, style is critical. They want what they drive to be a reflection of who they are.
Vanilla styling isn't the only drawback of choosing a Ford Edge. Unfortunately, many automotive journalists talk about the Edge's dated interior and plasticky finishes, even on higher, more expensive trims. The differences between these two crossovers are more than just skin deep: a more detailed analysis of the trim lineups and list of standard features reveals even more differences that might surprise you.
For 2021, buyers will find four Murano trims: the S, the SV, the SL, and the high-end Platinum. Ford makes the Edge in five trims, one of which is a performance-oriented model that tips the scales at well over $40,000. That is equivalent to the most luxuriously outfitted Murano, making the Nissan a far better value and calling into question the wisdom of Ford's trim strategy.
The Nissan Murano S comes standard with a powerful 3.5-liter dual overhead cam 24-valve V6 engine that delivers a healthy 260 horsepower. By contrast, the base Ford Edge SE includes a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 250 horsepower. It's refreshing to see a manufacturer stick with the larger V6 engine in this category since many continue to shrink engine size to achieve better fuel economy, sacrificing performance in the process. While you can get a V6 in the Edge, it is only possible if you opt for the model’s most expensive ST trim.
The Murano features a Continuously Variable Transmission that constantly adjusts to road conditions to deliver the smoothest, most fuel-efficient ride. Ford pairs its I-4 EcoBoost engine with a traditional 8-speed transmission. Both models include standard LED headlights and taillights, but only the Murano includes integrated LED turn signal indicators on the outside mirrors.
On the high end of the trim range, the 2021 Murano Platinum embodies pure luxury, with standard 20-inch wheels, a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, and diamond-quilted semi-aniline leather seating with heated and ventilated front seats. Also included in the Platinum trim is connected navigation with real-time traffic updates.
Ford makes the Edge in two higher-end trims: the Titanium and the performance-focused ST. The Titanium is more aligned with the Murano Platinum from a luxury point of view. Before dropping roughly $40,000 for a high-end crossover, buyers should know which model offers the most luxury features.
The Edge Titanium doesn't offer standard ventilated seats. Also, 19-inch wheels are standard, so if buyers want larger 20-inch wheels, they'll have to pay extra. Also, Adaptive Cruise Control is standard on the Murano Platinum. Unfortunately, Ford Edge buyers looking for intelligent driver assist technology will have to pay extra for the Ford Co-Pilot 360 Assist+ package.
New vehicle buyers, especially crossover buyers with families, include advanced safety technology on their list of must-haves for their new car. Automakers have made strides with semi-autonomous driving technology in recent years, and newer vehicle owners are reaping the benefits. The technology uses sensors, cameras, and even radar and sonar to detect potential hazards and alert the driver to take corrective action. Some systems are even designed to make driving easier by automating repetitive functions, like switching between low- and high-beam settings.
All 2021 Nissan Murano trims include Safety Shield 360, Nissan's suite of driver-assist systems. Safety Shield 360 includes six different systems, including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Automatic Braking, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and High Beam Assist.
The 2021 Ford Edge features standard Ford Co-Pilot360, a similar suite of driver-assist systems. One key difference, though, is that Ford's suite only includes four systems: Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, a Lane-Keeping System, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, and Auto High-Beam Headlights.
Ford lists a fifth driver-assist system in its Co-Pilot360 suite – a rearview camera – but what most buyers don't realize is that in 2018 the federal government mandated that every new vehicle had to include a rearview camera as standard equipment. Technically, if the rearview camera counts, then Nissan's suite includes seven systems.
Both the Murano and the Edge received five-star overall safety ratings from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, the Murano's expanded suite of standard driver-assist features gives it a leg up in a side-by-side safety comparison. Nissan also offers many optional intelligent systems, like Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, which can monitor up to two cars ahead and detect any sudden deceleration.
Where the 2021 Nissan Murano really shines is its dynamic exterior styling and plentiful cabin niceties. In its most luxurious version, the Platinum, the Murano shines, with semi-aniline leather seating surfaces and leather accented door panels and armrests. Dark teak wood trim pieces further elevate the Murano's interior, leading to Car and Driver calling it "among the nicest, most well-equipped interiors."
The Murano shares a common feature with other Nissan vehicles – the V-motion grille. It complements the v-shaped LED headlights and is framed by expansive chrome accenting. From the side view, the Murano looks sculpted and angular, with a sloped roof that ends with a sleek spoiler that gives way to a blunt and modern tail end.
The Ford Edge takes a more understated approach to exterior styling, with straight lines and a more classic crossover body style. Where the Murano is muscular, the Edge is more sedate and straightforward. It also features LED headlights and taillights, which modernize the exterior, but the Edge's lines lack light-catching curves, resulting in a uniform, and yes, vanilla curb stance.
Both vehicles offer subscription-based connected services that allow buyers to use their smartphones as a remote key. Via app-based technology, the vehicles can be started remotely, including presetting climate control. Both Ford and Nissan store vehicle data, such as fuel level, within the app.
NissanConnect includes Amazon Alexa and Google Voice compatibility, while FordPass only syncs with Amazon. The system also lets owners set customizable alerts, so they're notified when a driver leaves a set boundary limit, exceeds a preset speed, or stays out past the curfew time allotted. The alerts are perfect for families with teen drivers, offering peace of mind to worried parents.