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The 2014 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet may be the answer to a question that few, if any, car buyers have asked themselves: What would happen if you mated a crossover utility vehicle to a two-door ragtop convertible? The CrossCabrio, as it's known, is absolutely a one-of-a-kind vehicle--for better and for worse.
What, you hadn't heard of an all-wheel-drive convertible crossover before? Neither had we. As far as we know it's the first-ever four-seat convertible all-wheel-drive crossover ever sold in the U.S. Turns out that not a whole lot of people were lining up to buy such a vehicle, so with an all-new and daringly styled 2015 Murano hitting dealers this fall, we expect 2014 to be the last year for the oddball Murano CrossCab.
Starting at the front, the grille, hood, and front fenders like the familiar Nissan Murano, but everything from the windshield back is different than the five-door version. Not only does the CrossCabriolet have two lengthier doors to replace the four found on the conventional crossover, it has a fully automatic, folding cloth top that even contains its own glass moonroof--and bundles neatly into a stack behind the rear seat when put down. Be warned: It looks quite different with the top down versus fully erected. All together, the long doors and even longer cloth top make it look rather like the old Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible--and just as awkward.`
The car is visually arresting, and will get you a whole lot of looks. In motion or parked, other drivers, pedestrians, even cops will turn their heads, stare at it, wrinkle their brows, and look again. But they're not necessarily looks of awe or envy; they're more startled, puzzled, or downright disbelieving expressions. The CrossCabrio's tall, awkward shape and unusual profile even produce stares of utter confusion, in a kind of puzzled, "What the heck was THAT?" way.
While it may have landed like an alien spacecraft at Nissan dealerships, the Murano CrossCabrio uses mechanicals from the well-known Murano mid-size utility vehicle--mated to a largely reworked body that morphs the five-door Murano into a two-door, cloth-roofed convertible. It also sits up higher than the conventional Murano, on large 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
Inside, the CrossCabrio is far more luxurious than the standard Murano, despite losing its fifth seat. You might say the CrossCabrio tilts toward a lot less crossover and a whole lot more cabriolet. Upholstery in quilted leather and real wooden trim boost the luxe quotient considerably, though buyers will have to decide whether it's enough to justify a starting price just below $42,000 (and that's after a price reduction of more than $2,500 compared to the 2013 model).
But the work required to turn it into a convertible makes the CrossCabriolet far less practical than the regular Murano. Rear-seat riders have to climb up and into their seats through the long side doors, which otherwise give easy access to the interior (as long as you have enough room to swing them open in tight parking lots). Rear shoulder space is tight, and with the top down, trunk space falls to just 7.6 cubic feet--enough for two roll-aboard bags or a set of golf clubs, barely--protected by a rigid barrier so the self-folding top doesn't crush your luggage. Raise the top, however, and you can double the trunk space. For safety, pop-up rollover bars are fitted in case of emergency.
Like regular Muranos, the CrossCabrio is powered by a 265-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine paired to NIssan's Xtronic continuously-variable transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive is standard, and the combination of engine, CVT, and four powered wheels give the tall convertible smooth, strong performance. The EPA rates the CrossCabriolet's fuel economy at 19 mpg combined, 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
The handling is hardly competition for sports cars, but the CrossCabrio cruises comfortably and effortlessly. There's not a lot of road feel, though, and the high seating position and heavily damped body motions make driving it feel more like piloting a cabin cruiser--quite remote from the machinery that actually does the work.
The Murano CrossCabriolet fits all the luxury features from the top-of-the-line conventional Murano, then adds some additional features on top of those. All CrossCabrios come as standard with heated seats and steering wheel, high-intensity-discharge bi-xenon headlamps, and Bluetooth connectivity as well as a USB port. As you might expect, satellite radio is built into the Bose premium audio system, and given its height and minimal rear visibility, a rearview camera is a welcome piece of standard equipment.
A hard-drive navigation system with real-time weather and traffic information is a standalone option, one of very few offered; it includes streaming audio, voice recognition, and a 7-inch touchscreen display. Premium double-stitched leather upholstery is another optional feature. For 2014, two new colors--Gun Metallic and Midnight Garnet--have been added to the previous choices of black and white.
See our review of the 2013 Nissan Murano for something related, yet much more practical.