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2012  Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV

2012  Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV

2012  Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV

2012  Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV

2012  Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV

2012  Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV

2012  Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV

2012  Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV

2012 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV - FROM $44,540

It's a little bizarre and certainly pricey, but the 2012 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet makes surprising sense for anyone looking for a convertible with some real practicality.

2012  Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet's touchscreen navigation system, which includes Bluetooth streaming audio, moves from the standard equipment list to a stand-alone option.

Introduction

Just when we think we've seen every possible body style under the sun, out pops the 2012 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. This midsize four-passenger vehicle takes key attributes of two wildly divergent categories -- the car-based crossover SUV and the soft-top convertible -- and combines them to create something thoroughly unique. Whether or not that's a good thing depends on your perspective.

On the positive side, this two-door convertible version of Nissan's four-door Murano offers several distinct advantages over virtually every other convertible on the road. The spacious rear seat can comfortably seat two people and the comparatively large trunk provides plenty of cargo room even with the power-operated cloth top folded down. This Murano also retains the relatively tall seating position that has helped make crossovers so popular.

That said, the Murano CrossCabriolet has its share of weaknesses, not the least of which is its oddball appearance. The fact that it's only offered in a single fully loaded trim level gives it a steep price point, although it's fair to say that similarly equipped vehicles from other luxury brands cost more. Dispensing with the all-wheel-drive system and offering a more affordable entry-level CrossCabriolet without all the bells and whistles might even make this Nissan a star in rental car fleets in California and Hawaii.

There are several other convertibles to consider at this price point, and plenty of other SUVs, but there's nothing quite like the 2012 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Sure, the Jeep Wrangler is a convertible SUV as well, but that's like comparing appletinis and Orange Crush. Frankly, the CrossCabriolet is so unique that the folks at Nissan are either visionaries or absolutely nuts. Perhaps they're a little bit of both.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is a two-door, four-passenger convertible version 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, foglamps, heated mirrors, a fully powered soft top and keyless ignition/entry. Inside, it gets automatic dual-zone climate control, cruise control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar adjustment and memory functions, a heated and power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming mirror, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and a seven-speaker Bose audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, an iPod/USB audio interface and an audio/video input.

The only options are upgraded leather upholstery and a navigation system with a touchscreen interface, real-time traffic/weather updates and Bluetooth streaming audio.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 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 prefers premium fuel.

Safety

The 2012 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, pop-up roll bars, front-seat side airbags, door-mounted side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.

In Edmunds brake testing, the 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 from almost all other convertibles because it does indeed offer legitimate hip- and legroom in a backseat that will accommodate two adults. 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, so entry and exit can be tricky in parking lots. We also don't find the tinny, insubstantial sound the doors produce when you bang them closed to be particularly becoming for a vehicle that costs 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.

Driving Impressions

The CVT of the 2012 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet does a good job of keeping the powerful V6 in its sweet spot without the sort of drone typically associated with other CVT-equipped vehicles. And while the CrossCabriolet looks wildly different, it handles much like a conventional Murano, with commendable body control and steering that's well weighted. Plus, a decent amount of information from the tires is 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.

We'll remind you that slicing off the roof of any vehicle weakens its structure, so there's an engineering challenge in minimizing the consequences. And while Nissan has reinforced the CrossCabriolet's structure, 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 its structural integrity 10 or so years ago, but compared to other new convertibles, this Nissan's structure seems a little flaccid. Nevertheless, it is incredibly fun to drive around in such an extravagantly unique convertible.