There's no better way to enjoy summer driving than by slipping behind the wheel of a convertible. For many of us with children, we're forced to watch child-free drivers soak up all the sexy convertible fun because many convertibles have backseats that are too small to fit the kids. As if able to peek into our parental pipedreams, Nissan designers have delivered a dazzling new solution with the 2011 Murano CrossCabriolet.
Families of four or fewer will delight in the roominess and the endless features the Murano CrossCabriolet provides.
In the summer, each errand becomes an adventure with the cloth-top down and the Bose premium audio system turned up. The CrossCabriolet's V-6 engine is just as giving, delivering 265 horsepower. That's enough to turn every green light into a shotgun start. Suddenly, Mom is cool. A scary notion to many a child, but that fear is quickly diminished with promises of endless Kidz Bop tunes provided Mom doesn't sing along. "The top is down; people can hear you!"
Come winter time, the Murano CrossCabriolet will show it's up to wintry tasks with its all-wheel drive. You'll be laughing at the meteorologist when you settle into the CrossCabriolet's standard heated leather seats.
While I was thrilled by all the fun the Murano CrossCabriolet provided and found it a perfect fit for the needs of my family, I did feel bad for people with more than two kids. This convertible only has four seats.
The CrossCabriolet is only available in one trim and its starting MSRP is $46,390, which also was the cost of my test car. It costs more than its Murano sibling, which tops out at $39,900.
From the windshield back, the Murano CrossCabriolet is every bit a sexy convertible with a tail end that's reminiscent of its near relative, the Nissan 370Z. However, most people I polled weren't impressed by the Murano's pointed front end, and some even called it ugly.
With soft-top in place, the CrossCabriolet's profile looks similar to the Murano crossover. Top-down, I had to look at the large 20-inch wheels to remind myself it truly was a crossover and not something smaller. There's something thrilling about the combination of a crossover's master-of-the-road capabilities paired with the sheer fun of the convertible. In the last three years of reviewing cars, this CrossCabriolet is the only car I've tested that people have waved me down to inquire about it at the red lights. We also received several thumbs-up and nods of approval while driving it.
For my kids, ages 6 and 9 years old, getting in and out of the CrossCabriolet was easy. They were able to step up and into the Murano without difficulty. As a two-door vehicle, some patience was needed while loading everyone in though. Because the front passenger seat easily flips forward, we made it a rule that the kids always entered the car from the passenger side. This also saved me from readjusting my driver's seat every time. The oversized doors also required careful monitoring when the boys opened them in parking lots.
Like most convertibles, the CrossCabriolet's trunk is relatively small. Low-clearance items like duffel bags, suitcases and groceries in plastic bags could easily squat under the soft-top's housing. Taller items would pose a significant challenge.
The CrossCabriolet has a 265-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 that's paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. It gets an estimated 17/22 mpg city/highway and uses premium gasoline. I averaged 18.3 mpg during my test drive, and with the top up I inched up the average to 18.5 mpg. For those with short commutes, this level of efficiency may not bother you. Only drivers tracking more than 300 miles per week will face frequent and pricey fuel stops.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove on and on!
No luxury has been overlooked within this premium passenger compartment. Leather seating is standard and the backseat is certainly more spacious than any other convertible coupe on the market, skewing the curve with its crossover dimensions.
Up front, quilted leather seats were accentuated by wood trim that matches the leather, but getting any other color interior than the standard black will cost an additional $500. Because it's the top trim level, the CrossCabriolet comes with standard heated seats, dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth connectivity.
In the second row, two cupholders are nestled between the seats, creating a buffer zone between my rear passengers. My kids had plenty of legroom and shoulder room in the backseat. Vents provided added heat or cooling as needed to my ever-present peanut gallery.
One thing we all noticed was the significant road noise with the soft-top. My kids even inquired as to whether we had secured the top completely because they heard air rushing around them. Twice I pulled over to make sure the top was completely closed only to discover that it was. The soft-top just doesn't insulate from the sound the way the hardtop would.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
The Murano CrossCabriolet has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the rear seats, but more importantly, the roomy backseat could easily house even the chunkiest infant carriers.
With the top down, it was a cinch to get child-safety seats in and out of the car. I could simply lift them in and out without reaching, bending, stretching or bumping into an inadequate door opening. I appreciated the CrossCabriolet's high side walls; they came up to nose-height or higher on my kids. Convertible aficionados may balk at the side walls, but they gave me an added sense of safety and security, knowing that my kids were mostly covered in the second row when the top was down. To find out how the Murano CrossCabriolet did in MotherProof.com's Car Seat Check, click here.
The Murano comes with standard all-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system with traction control, active roll bars that deploy if the car tips, and six airbags, including side curtains that deploy from the doors, but they don't protect the rear passengers.
Get more safety information about the 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet here.