Travel Splurge: Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet May Be the Perfect Road Trip Vehicle

Recently, Nissan was kind enough to send us to San Diego for the unveiling of their shiny new, world’s first, all-wheel drive crossover convertible. No, seriously.

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It’s an awesome solution for those road trips when a drop top convertible is too small (little room for luggage and more than two people), an SUV is too much of a long-haul gas-guzzler, and a mini van is just too … well … minivan-ish. From our If-Money-Were-No-Object-on-Your-Next-Road-Trip file, we bring you the 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.

Touring the Pacific Coast in our Caribbean blue test model was truly a blast. Here, our first-hand impressions of this fresh, wholly unique and very interesting new ride …


Nissan themselves were quick to admit that the original concept was the answer to a question nobody asked. Why on earth would anyone want a convertible SUV? The better question: why wouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t want a car that’s as close to “all things for all people” as possible?

Love it or hate, the CrossCabriolet is a real head-turner. We personally love it and frankly the design is so radical, there’s little opinion in-between. My co-pilot and I were routinely accosted (in the kindest sense of the word) at traffic lights and parking lots by passers-by asking the obvious: “What is that?”. Skeptical of the entire concept, many were curious whether it was in fact a production vehicle.

A good many double-takes came from current Murano owners. No surprise, really, as the overall lines, styling, and the general concept is identical. Well, at least it looks identical. Nissan removed the B-pillar and one set of doors. They also installed a deck just above the trunk to stow the folding soft top. The result is a very low profile ensuring a sleek, wind-swept, dare I say feminine design.

Exterior colors include the Caribbean blue (shown below), along with Sunset Bronze, Merlot, Glacier Pearl (white), Super Black, and Platinum Graphite. Interior options include Cashmere (shown below), Black, and Camel.

2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet (in Caribbean blue)


Let’s get down to brass tacks … when it comes to convertibles, the first question is almost always “How fast is it?”. In a word: the Murano CrossCabriolet is peppy. It’s not intended to be a sports car (in the vein of a Porsche Boxster) or a full-fledged SUV (as with the full-size Murano), but rather … both.

At about 4,400 pounds, it’s heavier than almost any standard convertible that I’m aware of, but lighter than many SUVs. And the performance reflects this. Power comes from a 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6, that puts out 265 horses and 248 lb-ft of torque. It moves when you command it to and it’s plenty fast for most drivers looking for a little more sport in their road trip.

The handling is exactly what you’d expect (and want) in a convertible cruiser – soft and relaxed. And that’s a good thing particularly on extended road trips. You never get the feeling that the car’s going to leave the road unexpectedly due to razor sharp steering response.

The big selling point here is the CrossCab’s all-wheel drive feature, standard on every model. With it, this truly becomes an all-season road tripping vehicle – it makes just as much sense with the top down in sunny Santa Monica as it does on the windy, snow-covered mountain roads of New Hampshire.

2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet

Specs and Features

Trim levels are kept to a minimum to make ordering a snap. Every CrossCabriolet comes standard with a host of features that you’d actually want on a road trip. In particular:

  • Intuitive All-Wheel Drive for all-season, all-weather conditions
  • Refined and efficient 3.5-Liter V6 engine that produces 265 hp and 248 lb-ft torque
  • Heated steering wheel, front seats and outside mirrors
  • Nissan Navigation System with XM NavTraffic® updates, XM NavWeather® alerts and Zagat Survey® restaurant guide
  • Bose® audio system with auto-adjusting amplifier for top up or down
  • Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System
  • Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Ignition

The only question at the dealer is really, “What color do you want?”.

The automatic power top drops in about twenty-five seconds. Unlike many convertibles, there’s no need to mess with latches or clunky levers. Simply push a single button and you’re done.

With the top up, rear passengers enjoy the view through a wide moonroof embedded in the top. While we’re on the subject, they also enjoy a full back seat – I mean an honest-to-goodness full-sized back seat that a fully grown adult wouldn’t mind sitting in for a few hours. My co-pilot (a roughly six foot tall chap) and I played with the roominess a bit just to prove our point. He had no complaints about legroom and comfort while sitting directly behind me.

The rear trunk holds quite a bit of cargo with the top up. Top-down, you can squeeze two full-size golf bags in without issue. If you’re one of our avid readers (read: seasoned traveler), this is room for small weekend luggage for three to four adults.

If you decide to throw the CrossCab into the switchbacks on your local mountain trail, it also features one particularly nifty safety feature. Should you inadvertently roll it dirty side up, dual automatic roll bars pop-up behind the rear passengers to ensure everyone walks away with their heads intact.

2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet (top up)

Pricing & Availability

Pricing starts just north of $46K USD (roughly five grand more than a standard Murano) for a well-equipped model with all of the above bells and whistles. On sale in Spring of 2011.

In Closing …

Truth be told, we’re avid car nuts here and avid road trippers to boot. Were we fortunate enough to have one full time in our [ahem] extensive car stable at HQ, the CrossCabriolet would no doubt be our go-to weekend road trip driver.

In Caribbean blue. With the Cashmere interior. Just sayin’. Perhaps the “Official Road Trip Vehicle of®”. Are you listening, Nissan?

Founding Editor
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