What's New for 2011
The 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is a new convertible variant of Nissan's popular SUV.
"This just doesn't seem right. I'm in a Nissan Murano, but the roof is missing. At the same time, I'm in a convertible, but I'm really high off the ground. Weird."
This seems like the typical conversation that will commence within your imagination upon driving the 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet for the first time. Indeed, this is a weird car, both in appearance and concept. The regular Murano's styling is far from conventional, but when you remove two doors, chop off the roof and give it a coupelike trunk lid, "conventional" is just about the last word that pops to mind. And, really, it's surprising that doing such a thing to a midsize crossover SUV popped into Nissan's collective mind at all.
To begin with, it's big. If you want this much rear seat legroom in a convertible, you'll need to scrounge up $450,000 for a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe or search eBay for a '62 Lincoln Continental. The trunk is also relatively enormous, swallowing a vacation's worth of luggage even with the roof down. Then there's the elevated ride height. You certainly don't need it for off-roading, but countless drivers will enjoy that "commanding" view of the road that's been a selling point of SUVs for the better part of two decades.
So as far as convertibles are concerned, the 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is quite practical. It also has some consumer-style value if you consider that similarly equipped luxury-badged convertibles cost thousands more. Still, it's hard not to be shocked by the CrossCab's sticker price of $47,000, even if every item from the options list of the regular Murano is included. We would welcome a cheaper, more modestly equipped version, as well as one that lacks the standard but mostly pointless all-wheel-drive system. That way, the CrossCabriolet would make even more sense -- even if it remained a little weird.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is a two-door convertible variant of the regular Murano crossover SUV. It's available in only one loaded trim level that comes standard with 20-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, a fully powered soft top and keyless ignition/entry. Inside, it gets automatic dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a rearview camera, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar adjustment, driver seat memory functions, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a heated and power-operated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an auto-dimming mirror.
Standard electronic features include a navigation system (with real-time traffic updates), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a seven-speaker Bose sound system (with an iPod interface, an auxiliary audio jack, 9.3GB of digital music storage, a CD player and satellite radio). The only options are extra-charge roof and interior leather colors.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) are standard.
In Edmunds performance testing, the CrossCabriolet went from zero to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds -- just 0.3 second slower than the regular Murano. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway. Unlike the regular Murano, which takes regular gas, the CrossCabriolet requires premium.
The CrossCabriolet comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, pop-up roll bars, front seat side airbags and door-mounted curtain-style side airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Murano CrossCabriolet came to a stop from 60 mph in 124 feet -- a good distance for an SUV-sized vehicle.
Interior Design and Special Features
Convertibles are not supposed to be spacious. The people who end up riding in back are usually either tiny or have lost a round of rock-paper-scissors. However, the CrossCabriolet is different, since it offers legitimate hip- and legroom for two adults back there. It is not just spacious for a convertible -- it's spacious, period. It's also pretty easy to get back there as long as you roll down the large rear windows. The doors are long, though, and entry and exit can be tricky in parking lots. We also don't find the tinny sound the doors produce when you bang them closed to be particularly becoming for a vehicle costing nearly $50,000.
On the upside, the CrossCab's trunk is quite large for a convertible. Even with the top lowered, it easily holds two stacked golf bags and a sizable suitcase. Many convertibles struggle to match that with the roof raised.
Otherwise, the CrossCabriolet shares its cabin with a fully loaded regular Murano. The dash design is identical, with the same well-sorted electronics controls, and overall quality is strong. The seats are comfortable and most people should find the driving position ideal.
The 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet's CVT does a good job of keeping the powerful V6 in its sweet spot without the sort of revving drone typically associated with CVT-equipped cars. Handling is similar to that of the regular Murano, with commendable control and steering that's well weighted, with a decent amount of information transmitted to the driver's hands. Still, compared to just about any convertible car, the CrossCabriolet feels like a lumbering pachyderm around corners. The ride is reasonably compliant, though the standard 20-inch wheels don't exactly make things supple.
Removing the roof of any vehicle -- be it a coupe or crossover -- obviously weakens the structure. While Nissan reinforced the CrossCabriolet, bigger bumps still send vibrations through the steering wheel and make the windshield header wiggle from side to side. We probably would have hailed the CrossCabrio for structural integrity 10 or so years ago, but compared to other new convertibles, this Nissan's structure seems a little flaccid.