We've heard rumors of a Nissan Murano convertible for a long time and always shrugged them off. Now we've got all the official info on Nissan's strangest convertible and have to accept that this wacky vehicle is headed to production in the very near future.
Admittedly, Nissan's product planners don't expect the new Murano CrossCabriolet to sell in droves. "It's not going to be a volume car," said Brian Carolin, senior vice president for Nissan sales and marketing, in a recent Automotive News interview. "But there's a degree of bravery for us to bring out a car like that right now. It will surprise a lot of people."
The two-door is said to be the world's first all-wheel drive crossover convertible. It melds the "sophistication of a sedan" with the "utility of a sport utility," says Carolin, and of course, the fun of driving a convertible.
Engineers faced numerous feats when creating the CrossCabriolet. Rigidity had to be upped to compensate for the loss of its B-pillars, so the A-pillars gained significant reinforcement. To keep the standard model's profile, the cabrio's two doors are 7.9 inches longer than the standard Murano's front doors. Its canvas roof (available in either black or light brown) employs a glass window for improved longevity. And despite the new configuration, aerodynamic efficiency remains tidy at 0.39 Cd compared to the Murano's 0.37 Cd.
As there will only be one trim level when it goes on sale early next year, exterior features are generous. From HID bi-xenon headlamps and LED taillights, to fog lights and body colored bumpers and facades, the CrossCabriolet will arrive at dealerships plentifully equipped. Twenty-inch split five-spoke wheels cloaked in a titanium finish tuck under each of the bulbous fenders. The model's six colors include Sunset Bronze, Caribbean, Merlot, Platinum Graphite, Super Black, and Pearl White.
It's the same fully equipped story inside. Three leather colors - black, cashmere, and camel - can be had in a diagonal quilt pattern with double stitching. Half-matte chrome and wood finishes can be specified as well. A heated steering wheel and front seats, Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System, Bose audio system, and Bluetooth arrive standard.
The convertible CUV boasts an impressive set of cargo capacities. There's 7.6 cu-ft of space with the electronically actuated top stowed; 12.3 cu-ft with the top up. Sure, that's not a lot, but it bests most other convertibles.
The automaker's versatile 3.5-liter V-6 continues to power all four wheels. It's rated at 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque and mated to an Xtronic CVT gearbox.
Final EPA fuel economy ratings and a complete pricing schedule have yet to be released, but given the very niche buyer segment, we're guessing those won't matter much. The 2011 Nissan CrossCabriolet executes its mission as a eye-raising modern day crossover, but is it enough to be worthy of an entirely new segment? We'll let you know once we drive one.