Fun in the sun, up high

 

In the words of Monty Python: And Now for Something Completely Different.

Murano CrossCabriolet - Nissan - Howard Walker

   You’re looking at arguably the world’s first production all-wheel drive SUV convertible, the wonderfully weird and whacky Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.

   What’s next, a V12-engined minivan-based snow-blower?

   My neighbor summed it up best as he strolled past the Nissan on his morning dog-walk: “Whoa, what were those guys smokin’?” 

Murano CrossCabriolet - Howard Walker

   But after a week cruising in this two-door Murano drophead – especially in our recent blissful 80-degree, blue-sky, zero-humidity weather – I became strangely attached to this motoring oddball.

   As the badge suggests, the CrossCabrio is based on Nissan’s cute-ute Murano. Bodily surgery worthy of Grey’s Anatomy removed two of the doors and added the kind of steel reinforcement that was last seen in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

   As a convertible, it works like a dream. At the press of a button, the beautifully-fitted canvas top whirrs backwards in just 27 seconds. Over-sized side windows keep wind buffeting to a gentle breeze.

   There’s seating for four, and sitting in the back is as much fun as being up front, thanks to Barcalounger-like individual rear seats and stretch-out legroom.

Interior - Murano Cross Cabriolet SUV

   But the beauty of the CrossCabriolet is that being based on an SUV, you sit so much higher than in a sedan or sports car, making the top-down panoramic vista even more enjoyable.

   Cruising through town early Saturday evening, my rear seat passengers quickly found themselves perfecting their “royal wave” to pedestrians giving them enthusiastic thumbs-ups.

   A surprising bonus is the delightful way the Murano drives. Powered by Nissan’s Teflon-smooth 3.5-liter 265-horse V-6, it’s an eager performer and a relaxed, refined cruiser.

Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet SUV

   And all that body reinforcement means its suspension can soak up bumps without the body flexing. It shrugs off potholes with barely a shiver.

    You’ll pay $47,190 for the CrossCabriolet – around $7,220 more than the base Murano LE AWD. But for all the fun you’ll have? That’s priceless.