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2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet: Up Close

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If you’ve never ridden in a huge convertible, you don’t know what you’re missing. And chances are, that means you don’t know what you’re missing because the era of truly large convertibles ended in the 1970s. (Calm down, Jeep Wrangler fans. We know the top comes off, but we’ll give the Wrangler its very own category.) Nissan hopes to change things with its 2011 Murano CrossCabriolet convertible crossover.

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At first glance, the CrossCabriolet looks bizarre.

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At second glance, still pretty bizarre. Third … bizarre. And this was with the top down! Of course, the regular Murano’s styling isn’t universally loved, so I suppose it makes sense. It also looks enormous because, by convertible standards, it is enormous. Even the ragtop land barges of the 1970s were cars, so they were closer to the ground.

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The height actually translates to the interior, which makes it easy to get in. The interior of the auto-show car, an LE trim level, is high quality, just like the crossover on which it’s based. I was pleased that the fast windshield doesn’t extend back too far, so even when you’re in the front seat, you feel like you’re outside.

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Rocker switches on the front seats’ backrests make it easier to get into the backseat by motoring the whole seat forward — or so Nissan says. The feature wasn’t powered up when I dropped by. The backseat is definitely roomy for a convertible. My legs cleared the backrest, though my knees were raised a bit. What struck me most was the bathtub effect. Not only is the vehicle high, but so are its sides. Even at my height, 6 feet, the side came up to my shoulder — so you’re out in the open, but rather encased. This represents more headroom than you might guess from viewing the photos, but unfortunately the top was only down when I visited. Likewise, Nissan wasn’t opening the trunk, so we don’t know if the trunk is as compromised as it looks in the photos.

Overall, I like the idea of the CrossCabriolet, as I’ve bemoaned the loss of large droptops. I also like the Murano, but the base price of $46,390 looks awfully high on its own. A similarly equipped, fully loaded Volvo C70 comes to exactly $47,000, though. Maybe Nissan has figured out the price premium for a roomy backseat.

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Former Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder, a launch veteran, led the car evaluation effort. He owns a 1984 Mercedes 300D and a 2002 Mazda Miata SE. Email Joe Wiesenfelder

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