Nissan's CrossCabriolet is, umm, well, it's different

Nissan drops the top on the last vehicle you'd expect with its new Murano CrossCabriolet.

The new Murano CrossCabriolet is unlike anything on the road. We're split on whether that's a good thing or not.
The new Murano CrossCabriolet is unlike anything on the road. We're split on whether that's a good thing or not. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

When we took a sneak peek at the world's first all-wheel drive crossover convertible, we knew that its looks would be polarizing. Now fully unveiled at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, Nissan's Murano CrossCabriolet has us scratching our heads. Is it a brilliant creation of a new vehicle segment or an experiment in packaging gone horribly wrong?

As we already knew, Nissan started with its Murano crossover, which featured the automaker's 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to an Xtronic continuously variable transmission sending power through an all-wheel drive system. The crossover featured a high driving position, pretty good power, and a decent ride as crossovers go. From the CrossCabriolet's A-pillar forward, it's as though nothing has changed. However, things get a bit odd from that point backward.

The CrossCabriolet features a power-retractable soft top that collapses into the trunk area with, as Nissan claims, minimal cargo room intrusion. The chassis receives the requisite bolstering and stiffening that all 'vertibles get and loses a pair of doors (or a trio, if you count the hatch) in the name of structural integrity. Nissan hopes that the Murano CrossCabriolet will combine open air fun with the capability of a crossover and hopes to sell the cross cab to well-heeled couples of around 45 to 55 years of age.

It all sounds pretty good on paper, but eventually someone is going to have to look at this vehicle, which is when things get interesting. To our eyes, the roof cut off of the CrossCabriolet's C-pillars looks like a bit of a hack job--the body's curves end abruptly in what looks like a stump when viewed in profile. From many angles, the vehicle can be viewed in a flattering light and the Z-inspired rear tails are certainly handsome, but there's something slightly off about the proportions and scale of Nissan's crossover convertible.

Admittedly, our opinions of the Murano CrossCabriolet's styling are just our opinions and at least one member of the Car Tech team thinks that Nissan has a winner on its hands with this new segment. (We'll let you guess, which one of us that could be.) We'll know soon enough whether the Murano CrossCabriolet is a winner when it hits dealerships nationwide in early 2011.

 

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