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.
Driving the CrossCabriolet is not significantly different from driving a regular Murano, except when there are other cars around. Our sincerest apologies to the Honda Civic we nearly lane-changed into (the Murano's frameless doors have 46-inch-high upper sills). Oh, and also to the BMW we accidentally brake-checked. You see, the rear window presents itself in duplicate, with two tiny openings that allow the top to fold into five smaller sections. Unfortunately, neither opening allows you to see the cars behind you -- the upper window is positioned for stargazing, the lower for bird watching.
The curvy mountain roads prove no challenge for this Murano, which carves corners just fine on its twenty-inch wheels. In losing its roof, the CC has gained only 229 pounds over a four-door Murano, and with an additional 5 hp and 8 lb-ft of torque, acceleration feels similar. Off the line, that's not a good thing, since the CVT's shortest ratio is more like a second gear. Starting out on a hill as we ascend past 5000 feet, the Murano performs a spectacularly unimpressive eleven-second run to 30 mph and can't pull away from our leadfooted photographer racing us in a four-cylinder Nissan Rogue.
We make it to the ski resort without any problems, and we even return to the city before the roads become too treacherous. However, we don't go skiing -- that would have required skis. The Murano's rear seats don't fold down and there's no pass-through, so our only choice would have been to lower the roof and put the skis upright in back, an impractical solution, at best. Yes, you can take a Murano CC to a mountain ski resort with confidence. Just not with skis.