2014 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet

Nissan cleared a new path for the automotive industry with the polarizing Murano CrossCabriolet - officially the world's first (and only) all-wheel drive crossover convertible. This truly unique open-top CUV essentially takes a fully loaded Murano, crops off the top and packs on a few pounds in search of a fresh look and role fulfillment.

Aside from the switch from a sealed roof to a soft drop-top, look closely and one will also notice Nissan shed two doors during the Murano's transformation, adding to the sporty and elegant appeal of the car. The end result, Nissan hopes, is a unique vehicle that appeals to empty-nesters in search of a dual-purpose vehicle that can serve both as a fun convertible and a functional crossover utility vehicle.

Given the target audience, Nissan made sure to retain at least enough cargo room to fit a pair of golf bags even with the top down, while cargo space grows from 7.6 to 12.3 cubic feet with the top closed.

In terms of overall packaging, Nissan decided to position the Murano CrossCabriolet exclusively as a premium offering, meaning it comes even better equipped than the top-of-the-line Murano LE model.

That means even the base model comes handsomely loaded with body-colored front and rear bumpers, chrome door handles, body-colored dual power/heated outside mirrors and a rear window defroster with timer.

Inside, the CrossCabriolet is well appointed with standard leather throughout, while diagonally quilted premium leather with a double-stitched pattern is optional. Other standard design elements include half-matte chromed trim finish blended with unique wood-tone trim, tuned to match each of three available interior colors: Black, Cashmere (light brown) and Camel (brown).

Standard features include eight-way power heated driver's seat with power lumbar support, four-way manual heated front passenger seat, heated steering wheel, two-position driver's seat with memory for the steering wheel and outside mirrors, passenger seat easy entry release button on instrument panel for driver access, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition.

Two optional interior and convertible top choices add style and comfort: the first is a Camel interior with upgraded leather and a black top, while a Brown top and Cashmere interior combination with upgraded leather is also available.

Also optional is comprehensive package featuring the Nissan hard-drive navigation system with a 9.3GB Music Box hard drive and XM NavTraffic, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, HomeLink universal transceiver and RearView Monitor. Open-air road tunes are also enhanced with the package, which brings a Bose AM/FM/CD audio system with eight speakers including a subwoofer, automatic audio adjustment for soft-top up/down position, integrated Interface System for iPod, speed-sensitive volume control and auxiliary audio input jack.

Power comes from the same 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 producing 265 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque that is found in the standard Murano, mated to an Xtronic CVT. Fuel economy comes in at 17 city, 22 highway miles per gallon.

Safety is addressed with the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt sensors and an occupant classification sensor, front seat side-impact supplemental air bags, and door-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags with rollover sensor, along with front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, Zone Body Construction with front and rear crumple zones, front seat active head restraints, tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), vehicle dynamic control (VDC), traction control system (TCS) and dual pop-up roll bars for rear passengers.

Key competitors
It's not often a vehicle truly has no competition - a result of simple supply and demand economics. The Murano CrossCabriolet defies that law, partially due to its fresh arrival, possibly due to the fact there isn't enough demand to support more than one player. For now, other automakers are choosing to sit back and watch before creating a comparable car of their own. If one had to find an alternative, however, a bit of imagination might land you at either the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, or a Chrysler 200 Convertible.