The conference room at Santa Monica's Fairmont Miramar Hotel is filled with bewildered journalists. Nissan's marketers and product planners have brought us here to explain the Murano CrossCabriolet, but it's not working. They point to the screen and slowly repeat the words "no compromise" over and over, but it's like sitting through an advanced calculus class taught by Charlie Brown's teacher. Waw-WAW-waw-waw. Yes, ma'am, we're paying attention, but we just don't understand you.
Putting the top down (a process that's fully automatic but requires that the car be completely stopped) deactivates the navigation system's excellent voice-recognition system. The LCD touch screen is virtually invisible in the morning sunlight's glare, so it can't help us find the beach. Typing an address wouldn't have worked, anyway, since Nissan's heavy-handed lawyers have locked out all useful functions while the vehicle is in motion. Pulling over to enter an address, we take solace in the knowledge that, if we get rear-ended while sitting on the side of an interstate under a shady overpass, the Murano CC can choose to deploy its front, side, or side curtain air bags, and maybe even the two pyrotechnic pop-up roll bars in the rear headrests.
On the highway slog out of L.A., the CrossCabriolet rides great, its cloth roof insulates the cabin from wind noise, and its continuously variable transmission keeps the engine speed remarkably low. The Bose stereo sounds great, except when you've tuned to FM radio, which sounds like AM. Time to hook up the iPod.
QUESTION 3: Is the Murano CrossCabriolet ideal for everyday use?
Go-go-gadget Gaga! We crank the tunes and feel like we're in a hot music video cruising down Santa Monica Boulevard. All eyes are fixed on the Murano as we pull into a tight parking spot -- or, rather, try to pull into it. The CrossCabriolet's gargantuan turning radius means we'll need a couple of passes. Then we realize that we need to abort the mission completely when the 53-inch doors prove to be far too long to open without smacking the cars next to us.
Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
Price $47,190/$47,690 (base/as tested)
At the Geneva auto show, we talked to Nissan chief creative officer Shiro Nakamura about the Murano CC. It wasn't his baby, that's for sure.