I spent this past weekend on Palm Beach test driving the radically new Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Actually, I should say test driving the CrossCab and waving at the dozens of other drivers and pedestrians who were amazed by the sight of this two-ton, full-sized crossover without a roof. Who felt compelled to wave at it, jaws dropped, eyes glazed. (Plenty of pics after the jump.)
The first production SUV drop-top, the CrossCab definitely draws attention. (Even though my blonde, windswept driving partner, Aly, and I were looking pretty good, the car still drew more eyeballs.) And after driving it, there’s good reason. Although the top-of-the Murano line CrossCab skews slightly more female than male, there’s a lot for us guys to like about it. Especially if you’re a family guy and want something less mini-vanish to haul your namesakes around in. And still take the entire Saturday foursome to the course for 18.
While it won’t be hitting your local showroom floor until next month, here are some of the key things you’ll want to know about the CrossCab:
There’s no question the CrossCab is a head turner. Unless you’re a regular at custom car shows, the sight of an SUV rolling topless is going to grab your attention. A couple of people asked if it was really a production car.
If you’re familiar with the regular Murano, the only thing you’ll see that matches is the front end. The rest is similar, but all unique to the CrossCab. One set of doors and the B-pillar have been removed, turing this into a two-door coupe. And the rear end has been modified with a bonnet, to accept the folding soft top. And that top is low profile to keep the lines more sleek and less clunky for the few times you’ll be driving it with the top up.
The CrossCab comes in six exterior colors, including the Caribbean, shown here. This pale green seems to be the most popular — Aly ran right for it, and one of my female Twitter followers commented it looks like the Easter Bunny — but there are other, more masculine colors to choose from, including Sunset Bronze, Platinum Graphite and Super Black.
Inside you can pick your leather from Black, Cashmere or Camel, and the top choices are black or beige. (And they are tied to the interior colors, so you can’t get too creative.)
The CrossCab is a big, heavy vehicle. At around 4,400 lbs, it’s about 400 lbs heavier than the hardtop version. (Sure the roof is gone, but there are structural enhancements added to keep its integrity.) So to get this two-ton tanning booth rolling, it gets a 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6, that puts out 265 horses and 248 lb-ft of torque. And all that torque is going to all four 20-inch, titanium finished aluminum-alloy wheels in the standard AWD CrossCab.
And that’s more than enough power to not only launch the CrossCab, but to get you to highway speeds fast. Passing less aggressive drivers is a breeze too. I put my foot in it the second we got on the interstate, and we were off. (The CrossCab gets 17 city/22 hwy when you don’t drive like I do.)
The steering and handling were a little soft for my tastes, but I prefer the tight feel of a small sports car. This is a cruiser. And whether you’re taking it on the highway, or up the coast for a weekend drive, the light-touch steering is what you’ll want.
Bells and Whistles
The CrossCab comes in one trim line. And it’s fully loaded with all the toys you want: leather seating, heated front seats and steering wheel, Nissan’s Hard Drive Navi with backup cam, and the premium Bose 8-speaker audio system. The only real “option” is the $500 extra you’ll pay if you want the Camel or Cashmere interior, instead of black. (And yes, you do.)
The top drops with a single, sustained button push. There are no levers or latches to worry about. And when it’s in the up position, your rear seat passengers are treated to a moonroof embedded in the soft top.
The CrossCab, being a full-sized crossover, has a full back seat. Unlike other convertibles, you can actually fit four adults in it. I’m 6-feet tall, had no problem getting in and out, and had enough legroom that I didn’t need to ask the passenger on front of me to move their seat so far forward they were biting the dash.
And if you plan to take the CrossCab on a roadtrip, you can fit a weekend’s worth of luggage in the trunk, or two golf bags, even with the top down.
For you safety nuts, the CrossCab comes with airbags all around, along with door-mounted curtain side-impact airbags with rollover sensor. And should the CrossCab go greasy side up, there are dual pop-up roll bars for the rear passengers to keep their heads off the pavement.
When it goes on sale, the Murano CrossCab will run you $46,390 (and $500 more if you opt for the Camel or Cashmere interior. Yes, that’s a full $5,300 more than the top of the line Murano LE, but it includes the navi and Bose systems, and the year-round tan and endless wind in your hair. Blonde passenger not included.