I have to believe that Nissan must feel somewhat vindicated for producing the Murano CrossCabriolet. They introduced the show version at the Los Angeles Auto Show amid scowling skeptic’s remarks of “the answer to a question no one asked.” and “Who would want the top cut off a sport utility vehicle?” Those are all remarks I heard as I walked the floor of the auto show last year.
The thing is, sometimes you just have to go out and take a chance. That is exactly what Nissan did with the Murano CrossCabriolet. Surprising to me and many others is it turned out to be quite a nice ride. Particularly for my cruise along the sunshine covered beaches from San Diego to San Francisco and beyond.
Nissan claims to have the world’s first all-wheel drive crossover convertible, and I cannot think of another. There are a few all-wheel drive convertibles but none classified as crossovers.
The important factor here is this; Nissan will fit into a good many buyer lifestyles with this soft-top. Accept for a few minor annoyances during my drive I found this Murano to be fun and comfortable.
Major changes are made to the body and chassis to give the Murano CrossCabriolet quality ride and handling, by not allowing the whole platform to twist and flex. A high achievement when you consider they removed the “B” pillar removed two doors and lengthened the remaining doors by eight inches. I did notice a slight shake to the front end virtually through my entire ride. However, in less than 30 minutes I became immune to the slight vibration and forgot all about it.
Styling is highly attractive, both with top up or down. I preferred the top lowered, of course. It just appears the most natural look for this vehicle particularly with the J-motion waistline (Nissan designer speak) the flows up just behind the rear windows. This little body feature lends a bit of hard cover look. However, even with bringing the power top up, the Murano CrossCabriolet is sleek and attractive.
Even with the top up the passenger cabin feels light and airy thanks to the unique skylight located in the roof just behind the back seat. This little feature brings additional light into the compartment. An element more convertibles need.
The look and feel of the cockpit is luxurious and finely finished. The double stitched leather interior is trimmed with wood grain that lends a highly crafted feel. As it should since the CrossCabriolet is priced thousands over the top of the line Murano LE. The boutique feel is accentuated with exterior colors befitting a sporty vehicle such as this. Add in the attractive interior blends and this Murano is ready for the beach. There could be the rub. For many, it may begin to be considered too much of a boutique vehicle.
Power is adequate from the tried and true 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which is found in a number of other Nissan products. Here it is mated to a second-generation Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which provides much better power feel to the four-wheel drive system. I remain skeptical of CVTs for their ill mannered transitions getting the power to the road. However, this version is much better at the task. Though most manufacturers, including Nissan, say CVTs are used to improve fuel economy, most struggle with it. Here the EPA ratings are 17 MPG city and 22 highway. Not the most exciting of numbers.
Where the numbers do get exciting are the nearly 300 horses come from this V-6. Rated at 265 hp and 248 lb-ft. of torque, the Murano CrossCabriolet is responsive and fun.
The summation on the CrossCabriolet; It is fun to drive, especially with the top down and the wind in your hair.