The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is a crossover niche car that's available as a soft-top convertible with all-wheel drive.In other words, it’s like a softer Jeep Wranger. It’s an interesting car that has a unique take on open-air driving, despite its tendency to puzzle even other Murano drivers.
In fact, the CrossCabrio is the sole crossover offered with a cloth top aside from the Jeep Wrangler, whose legendary rock-climbing and river-fording abilities (not to mention its military heritage) appeal to a hugely different set of buyers than the lady real-estate brokers we've seen behind the wheel of the soft-top Murano. You might have to go back as far as the tiny, oddball Suzuki X90 targa-topped all-wheel drive two-seater to find something quite as unusual as this car.
The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet shares both its running gear and front-end styling and sheetmetal with the standard Murano crossover. But from the windshield back, its designers sliced off the roof and substituted a pair of much longer side doors. The result is a tall, high-riding convertible with a stance and appearance unlike anything else on the roads.
Unfortunately, the CrossCabrio loses quite a lot of interior space to the packaging for the cloth convertible top. The driving position is good, and the Murano's well-organized interior is trimmed in woodgrain and leather for the ritzier convertible. The doors are long, and swing open in a wide arc, which makes entry and exit easier than it might have been--unless you're in a tight parking space. But the back seat is for homecoming queens only; there's neither leg nor shoulder room enough to seat two full-size adults. The trunk's small when the top is stowed, with only enough room for a couple of small suitcases, but it doubles when the roof is raised and latched.
The CrossCabriolet's drivetrain is Nissan's familiar 3.5-liter V-6 engine, producing 265 horsepower, mated to its continuously variable transmission (CVT), just as in the standard Murano. The combination provides a steady, unsurprising stream of power that's smooth and well quieted in this iteration. Fuel economy stays relatively high, at 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, despite the added weight of all-wheel drive and structural reinforcements.
On the road, the CrossCabriolet has the same ride height as the stock Murano crossover. It has fairly responsive steering, but its ride is softer, and the convertible version bounds more, with less damping and more quiver in the body structure itself.
The all-wheel drive system, in fact, is standard on the Murano CrossCabriolet, which may assist in moving the greater weight of the convertible--not to mention helping to beef up its body structure. The suspension is also refined and recalibrated to accommodate the changes to the body as well. That convertible top, by the way, is so massive that it comes with its own sunroof--a glass panel that folds away neatly with the top.
Launched in 2011, the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet carried over largely unchanged for 2012. Changes for 2013 included a pair of new paint colors and a new design for the 20-inch alloy wheels. Just one model is offered, with limited options. Standard equipment includes heated seats, a rearview camera, satellite radio, and Bluetooth and USB connectivity. In 2012, Nissan dropped the previously standard navigation system and cut the price by $1,850. The Murano CrossCabriolet is still likely to leave the lot at $45,000 or more, proving once again that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
If nothing else, it's a vehicle that turns heads and starts conversations. That's often desirable in southern California, which is where most of the few CrossCabrios we've seen in the wild have been located.