I don’t remember exactly when I first heard that Nissan was making a convertible version of is Murano crossover SUV.
But I do recall my first thought.
“ A convertible SUV? How in hell does that work?”
Turns out the answer to that question is that it works very well.
In fact, members of our automotive media group, the Southern Automotive Media Association, rated the Murano CrossCabriolet as the best family convertible at its inaugural “Topless in Miami” convertible competition last June. (For more information, you can visit www.toplessinmiami.com. Don’t worry. The site is all about cars and safe for work.)
The word “family” should be your first clue as to the size of the Murano CrossCabriolet. As you might deduce, it has a big cabin that provides lots of room front and back. By most convertible standards, the back could be called huge, and it’s not that big a chore to get back there.
It’s easier with the top down, of course, and rolling down the rear windows helps when the top is up. But you don’t have to be a contortionist.
The CrossCabriolet also offers a substantial amount of storage for a convertible with a trunk offering 12.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which is competitive with many sedans.
No, of course, it’s not as much stowage as you will find in the standard Murano (31.8 cubic feet with the second-row seats upright and 64.5 with them down), and I should mention something here about that.
If you take a close look at the photo here of the CrossCabriolet with the top up, you will notice that the soft top does not mirror the profile of the standard SUV. There is not the big liftgate at the rear with open storage behind the back seat.
To do that, designers likely would have had the top retract along rails and fold up at the back, kind of like the Fiat 500C. (You can check the pictures on one of my earlier blogs at paul-borden.blogspot.com/2011/07/pizza-sophia-and-new-fiat.html and you’ll see what I mean.)
But Nissan engineers didn’t do that, perhaps because it just doesn’t work out because of the physics involved or just because they wanted the more open-air driving experience that having a fully retractable canvass top provides for the Murano CrossCabriolet.
But other than no rear liftgate and only two doors, this is very much a Murano.
It comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) tuned to 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, slightly more than the 260 and 240, respectively, in the standard Murano.
Fuel economy is rated at 17 miles-per-gallon city, 22 highway in the CrossCabriolet, about the same as the all-wheel-drive version of the Murano’s 18/23. (The CrossCabriolet is offered only in AWD configuration.)
Other than seating for four instead of five, the CrossCabriolet’s interior is the same as the standard Murano with the dash and controls identical. I found the seats comfortable, and the driving position is nice and high. Quality of materials in the cabin is of the best.
The wheelbase (111.2 inches) is the same on both the CrossCabriolet and the standard Murano, though at 190.1 inches and 74.5 inches the CrossCabriolet is a couple of ticks longer and wider, respectively. With the top up, the CrossCabriolet is 66.2 inches tall, the regular Murano 68.
The CrossCabriolet rides on 20-inch wheels as standard, which is the same as those on the high-end LE trim level in the Murano.
The CrossCabriolet doesn’t have a lot of options that can be tacked on, so the final cost isn’t likely to go much higher than the base $45,390 (including destination and delivery). The version I drove had an optional navigation system, upgraded leather interior, and floor mats that ran the total price to $47,890.
A base Murano that keeps its top on (what’s the fun in that?) starts at just over $30,000 including D&D. The top-of-the-line LE Murano with AWD is around $41,000 counting D&D charges.
And they always seem to do count those charges.
So if you are one who had to give up the sportiness and fun of driving al fresco (or au natural) because of your growing family, perhaps the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is your solution. It’s not quite the oddball I first thought it would be.