The midsize SUV segment is growing in popularity, with more models joining the fray seemingly every year. While new nameplates like the Toyota Venza and Chevy Blazer are making a splash with their dazzling styling and modern features, old mainstays continue to play a large role. The Ford Edge and the Nissan Murano are familiar faces, loved by families looking for something larger than an Escape, Rogue, RAV4, or the like but who have no need of that third row of seats. However, while these two larger SUV models have been around the block a time or two, they have adopted different approaches to securing their positions in the midsize market. Comparing the 2021 Nissan Murano vs 2021 Ford Edge, you will see that the Japanese brand has placed safety front and center while the Blue Oval has focused on delivering tremendous performance.
Nissan has been emphasizing safety for a few years now as part of the brand’s philosophy of Intelligent Mobility, and things really kicked into high gear when Nissan Safety Shield 360 was first unveiled for the 2019 Nissan Altima. This collection of advanced driver-assist technologies is one of the more comprehensive safety suites available in a modern vehicle, and more importantly, is offered standard across most of the Nissan lineup. This attention to safety has certainly paid off, and the 2021 Nissan Murano was one of only two two-row midsize SUVs to be named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ as well as earning 5 stars in every NHTSA crash test scenario.
The 2021 Ford Edge is also a rather safe vehicle, earning an IIHS Top Safety pick and plenty of 5-star ratings from the NHTSA. However, Ford’s focus has always been on power and performance, and the Edge certainly lives up to those expectations. The available ST trim is one of the few SUVs from a non-luxury brand that can legitimately claim to be a high-performance vehicle. The powerful twin-turbo V6 engine grants the Edge ST some impressive performance for a comfortable family vehicle and sets it apart from other vehicles in its class. However, other trims of the 2021 Edge offer slightly more pedestrian performance.
What Makes a Safe SUV?
These days, it seems like every manufacturer offers a special suite of driver-assist technologies with its vehicles. From Honda Sensing and Chevy Safety Assist to Toyota Safety Sense and Tesla Autopilot, they all include many similarities and a handful of differences. So what sets Nissan Safety Shield 360 apart from the competition? Although the 2021 Murano includes more than a few additional safety features, Nissan Safety Shield 360 properly consists of six technologies:
- Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection
- High Beam Assist
- Lane Departure Warning
- Blind Spot Warning
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Rear Automatic Braking
None of these technologies are unique to Nissan. Indeed, the first three of these technologies are nearly ubiquitous on modern vehicles. However, the latter three are something special. Although many brands offer some form of blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert, Nissan is nearly alone in providing them standard on every trim. Rear Automatic Braking goes a step further, as it isn’t even an option on many new vehicles. However, Nissan provides all six of these technologies standard in the 2021 Nissan Murano.
On top of the six Nissan Safety Shield 360 technologies, the 2021 Murano also comes standard with a Rear Sonar System and Intelligent Driver Alertness – two handy features that help make life on the road just a little easier and safer. Opting for the higher trims will provide additional safety features, including an Intelligent Around View Monitor and Front Sonar System, but every trim of the 2021 Murano is fully equipped with all the most important safety features right out of the box. It even comes standard with bright LED headlights, which helped it secure its position as an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (the lacking headlights in the Edge actually means that its Top Safety Pick rating only applies to certain trims).
What Makes an SUV Sporty?
Ford has also equipped its midsize SUV with a reasonable collection of standard and optional safety features, but the real selling point of the 2021 Edge is its performance. The majority of midsize models on the market (including the 2021 Murano) are equipped with a V6 engine under the hood, providing a good mix of reliability and power. However, Ford took a different route and outfitted the Edge with two engine options, both making use of its EcoBoost turbocharger technology. This allows exceptional performance without sacrificing too much when it comes to weight or fuel consumption, although it does add a bit more complexity to the engine.
For those unfamiliar with the technology, a turbocharger is a form of “forced induction,” pumping extra air into the engine and artificially increasing the engine’s size. This allows the base 2.0L four-cylinder engine in the 2021 Edge to produce very similar performance (slightly less horsepower and slightly more torque) to the 3.5L V6 engine in the 2021 Murano despite being significantly smaller. However, while most manufacturers are content to provide their midsize SUVs with a single engine option, Ford also offers the Edge with a far more powerful 2.7L EcoBoost V6 on the performance-oriented ST trim.
On top of boasting no less than 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, the Edge ST has numerous performance and aesthetic upgrades over the other Edge trims. These include standard 20-inch wheels with optional 21-inch wheels and summer tires for enhanced handling. The trim can also be equipped with vented brake rotors, upgraded engine cooling, and more to provide a real performance experience. However, the ST is the most expensive trim for the 2021 Edge, starting at $43,100 before any optional performance features are added. This means that while Ford does offer some impressive performance in its midsize SUV, you will have to pay for it.
Two Takes on the Midsize SUV
Ford and Nissan have both designed popular midsize SUVs, but they have taken very different approaches to tackling the segment. While Ford has emphasized performance and powertrain technology, Nissan has invested heavily in enhanced safety features. This alone would be enough to differentiate the two designs, but the brands have also worked these features into their lineups differently. While Ford has concentrated the performance features of the Edge into its top trim, Nissan has opted to make safety standard on every version of the Murano. Although Ford’s approach does mean that you will not be forced to pay for more performance than you desire, that is only an advantage because not every driver desires maximum performance.
However, there are few drivers who do not desire safety in their vehicles, and Nissan’s approach means that you never have to worry about which trims of the Murano have the safety features that you desire. Overall, we believe that Nissan has done a better job of determining what drivers shopping for a midsize SUV are interested in and giving it to them. Although the raw performance of the Edge ST is certainly exciting, the reliable safety of the Nissan Murano will provide you and your passengers with the peace of mind you desire when on the road.