At first blush, the 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet seems designed to render automotive critics speechless. It doesn’t have any direct competition. Doesn’t care about being either sporty or utilitarian. Doesn’t really resemble anything, except for perhaps an Amphicar . We’re used to writing about vehicles that slot neatly into established segments, not near-$50K crossover SUVs that are missing two doors and a roof.
Rather than try to judge the Murano CrossCabriolet by our usual standards, then, we’re just going to appreciate it for what it is: a novelty item—a niche product that holds appeal precisely because it’s so unconventional. To wit, there are zero other convertibles out there that ride softly and provide four adult passengers with ample space and an SUV’s commanding view of the world. Nissan even throws in all-wheel drive for snow-belt residents who would rather not relegate their drop-tops to hibernation every winter.
Hey, wait a minute. Maybe this thing makes some sense after all.
What's to Like
The Murano CrossCabriolet rides with both grace and substance, just like the top-notch crossover SUV on which it’s based. Its elevated hip-point gives passengers a uniquely expansive perspective, and the roomy backseat is a veritable throne relative to the rear quarters in most convertibles. The mandatory 3.5-liter V-6 is smooth and capable once it gets going, and the standard all-wheel-drive system makes this Nissan a true four-season vehicle.
What's Not to Like
Thanks to conservative transmission tuning and a bit of a weight problem, the CrossCabriolet feels sluggish off the line. Cargo space is very limited, and fuel economy is predictably poor. Cowl shake is noticeable over rough pavement. The CrossCabriolet’s high center of gravity and cushy suspension mandate a gentle pace on winding roads, though this will likely suit the target buyer just fine.
The Murano CrossCabriolet soaks up bumps and ruts with minimal fuss. You’ll notice those imperfections in the wiggling windshield—“cowl shake” is the technical term for this—but you’ll hardly feel them through the seat of your pants. With the soft convertible top in its closed position, road and wind noise are respectably hushed, though some hard-top convertibles are quieter. Power down that top—a painless process with no separate tonneau cover to worry about, by the way—and you’ll be pleased with the lack of wind buffeting, even at near-highway velocities. On twisting tarmac, the Murano CrossCabriolet is more capable than, say, a Jeep Wrangler , but it trails just about every other convertible in athletic ability. Cruising, not cornering, is this Nissan’s forte.