Take a quick look at the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet and you'll probably be scratching your head in puzzlement. As what may well be the first all-wheel-drive crossover convertible in automotive history, the CrossCabriolet--true to its name, a two-door ragtop version of the Murano mid-size crossover--ranks as one of the weirdest models on the market, especially if you count those with a mass-market badge.
While the standard Murano is a vehicle that's for the most part soft and almost voluptuous, the conversion to CrossCabriolet yields some very different proportions. There's a lost-in-translation quality about it, but it's also visually arresting in many respects. Sitting taller than a standard Murano, it's completely different from the windshield on back, and the combination of the longer doors, massive 21-inch wheels, and long-lidded convertible top add up to a vehicle that at its best has some of the proportions of the old Chrysler PT Cruiser. Inside, the CrossCabriolet feels much more conventional and serious, and high-end details like real wood trim and quilted leather give the almost clownish exterior an unexpected counterpoint.The standard Murano's powertrain is carried over to the CrossCabriolet mostly untouched, and that's a good thing as it meets the CrossCabriolet's laid-back mission. This 265 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and continuously variable transmission (CVT) move this convertible strongly and smoothly; all-wheel drive is also part of the package, with an independent suspension plus a bolstered body structure. Gas mileage is respectable, at 17/22 mpg. Handling is nothing to boast about, but it's an effortless cruiser. Softened body motions and the high driving position add up to a sensation of being at a ship's helm, a bit detached in corners.
The CrossCabriolet's unusual packaging restricts its usefulness. The big doors make getting in and out easy, provided you're not in a tight parking spot; and the driving position is oddly commanding--think Pirates of the Caribbean--with front seats comfortable but quite high up. Getting in back requires a climb up through those long door cutouts, and then shoulder space is tight, but it's a good place to be seen. Trunk space is also restricted, especially with the top lowered, when it's cut to just 7.6 cubic feet. Golf clubs or a couple of roll-aboards will fit, barely. Trunk space nearly doubles when the top is raised and a rigid trunk liner is lifted into a set of latches that prevent the top from smushing the trunk's contents.
Push a button and the power-operated lid arches skyward majestically; stop it midway and you get a sense of what the Sydney Opera House looks like without the burning thousands in airfare. The huge top contains its own glass sunroof, but it's packaged well enough to be quite compact when folded.
Rollover pop-up bars, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, Bluetooth, and HID bi-xenon headlamps are all included as standard equipment on the CrossCabriolet, as well as a USB port, satellite radio, and a rearview camera. A hard-drive-based navigation system is one of the few stand-alone options.See our review of the 2013 Nissan Murano for something related, yet much more practical.
- 2013 Jeep Wrangler
- 2013 Volkswagen Eos
- 2013 Volvo C70
Still, the CrossCab's priced rather steeply at more than $45,000. That's far more than a VW Eos or Volvo C70, and it overlaps a base BMW 3-Series convertible. For that price, you get exclusivity of a Bentley kind, and just as much potential for vitamin D production--not to mention a constant stream of what-the... There's just one vehicle remotely competitive with Nissan's truly offbeat Murano CrossCabriolet. The Jeep Wrangler--in long-wheelbase, five-seat Unlimited form--comes in hardtop or soft-top convertible form. It's less steady and smooth on everyday roads, but retains a good deal of the traditional Jeep off-road ability, and can be optioned up just as expensively as the Murano CrossCabriolet.