I saw a Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet on the road the other day. It was like a unicorn sighting. Well, maybe not that extreme, but considering there are 29.5M vehicles registered in the state of California and only 107 Murano CrossCabs, it's pretty rare. And how about this math: the Murano CrossCab went on sale last spring, and I've only seen one, but in the same period of time I've crossed paths with actress Jennifer Garner three times. So, following that logic, a Murano CrossCab sighting is rarer than a Jennifer Garner sighting.
But I digress. The ragtop was up on the CrossCab, and I needed to do an immediate lane change so I didn't get a good look at the driver. But the encounter piqued my curiosity: who buys these SUV convertibles?
First off, these people are affluent — 38% report an income of over $100,000 per year so you're more likely to see the CrossCab in a Nordstrom parking lot than at a Sears. While their income is significantly higher than the industry average, it is expected for such an expensive vehicle. I built one to my liking on the Nissan website, and the MSRP was over $47K. In terms of how its price stacks up with the industry, the typically equipped MSRP for a new vehicle is generally in the low $30K's so it is quite a bit higher. This vehicle also skews more female — like many convertibles — with a buyer base that skews about 29% more female than industry averages. It also lacks Gen X and Gen Y appeal with a significant minority of owners under the age of 44, which is likely another function of its price tag.
It's not shocking that the most popular trade-in for the Murano CrossCab is the Murano itself. Interestingly enough, there were several late model Murano trade-ins, so I can only imagine the dismay of the existing Murano owner who didn't know it was about to debut in convertible form. I bet they felt ripped off. Other popular trade-ins included the Nissan Maxima, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry Solara.
Another interesting data point is Edmunds.com's reverse cross shopping. This measures what percent of competitive model shoppers are looking at the model in question. Ideally you'd want a higher percentage of your competitors' shoppers looking at your model than the other way around, but as you can imagine, the relationships for the Murano CrossCab are severely lopsided. While 5.2% of Murano CrossCab shoppers look at the Toyota RAV4, only 0.1% of RAV4 shoppers look at the Murano CrossCab. Looking at the chart below, it's easy to see that the Murano CrossCab draws a pretty focused buyer who isn't really out shopping the field.
Do you have a good sense of the Murano customer yet? OK, if you have, here's a question for you:
In what state are you more likely to see a Murano CrossCab — Hawaii or Wyoming?
Well, if you answered Hawaii, you're wrong. Of course, it seems like the sensible answer given Hawaii's warm climate and wealthy retirees. But if you look at Murano CrossCabs as a percent of total vehicles registered in the state, Hawaii has the lowest number. Since its on-sale date, there has only been one Murano CrossCab registered in the state of Hawaii, a time frame in which there has been 33,608 total registrations. Wyoming, on the other hand, has the highest Murano CrossCabs per total registrations. What that means is that you are more likely to see a Murano CrossCab on the streets of Cheyenne than you are in Honolulu.
There has also been a Murano CrossCab sold in every state of the union — yes, even Alaska. In fact, there have been three registered in the 49th state. If you think about it, it sort of makes sense — an SUV with AWD in the winter and a convertible for that endless summer daylight. Summer solstice is approaching; so perhaps we'll see Alaska's number go up.
When I saw the Murano CrossCab on the street, I was pretty excited — so excited, in fact, I reported this news to the keen group of auto observers that surround me in the office. None of them could report a Murano CrossCab sighting, and chances are whoever is reading this column hasn't seen one either. Given this rarity, I officially propose that this vehicle gets its own driving game — similar to "Slugbug". Of course, the immediate downside I see is that it will be hard work to get "Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet" into a kitschy game name. But I'll leave that to the marketers. After all, I'm a numbers person.
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Jessica Caldwell is the Senior Director of Pricing & Industry Analysis for Edmunds.com. Follow @jessrcaldwell on Twitter.