All photos by Nissan
After arriving in San Diego this past weekend, Bullz-Eye finally had the chance to drive the all new 2011 Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet and luckily, the weather was just about perfect. Going into the drive I really didn't know what to expect. As sharp as the Murano Cabriolet looks, I had to keep reminding myself that this is a crossover and not a sport coupe. Nissan is coming off a 2010 where they saw market share increase .04% and overall sales jump 18%. Obviously the company wants to keep the momentum going into 2011. (FYI: Nissan North America sales were up a whopping 31% in February 2011.)
We met with Nissan prior to the drive on Saturday and learned that Nissan continues to look for innovations. I would say a crossover convertible qualifies as innovation and a new segment with its crossover functionality and open air access. Nissan described the 2011 Nissan Murano Crossover Cabriolet as a "convertible without compromise." The lack of a B pillar, higher utility and more space than anything on the market really set the Murano apart.
After seeing the Murano up close when I first arrived and learning more about the impressive model, I was ready to get behind the wheel. We took off from L'Auberge Del Mar with the temperature in the mid 60's and a line of Muranos ready to get at it. I first noticed how sharp the low profile soft top looks on the Murano Cabriolet, highlighting its sleek silhouette. The taillights are reminiscent of the iconic Nissan 370Z and Nissan Maxima. The soft top opened and tucked away with the press of a button and took less than 25 seconds, which was very impressive. Once the top was down, everything in the interior jumped out at me – I couldn't help but notice the smooth edges in the cabin and the wraparound feel that reminded me of a luxury yacht. The plush double-stitched leather seating comes standard and the unique tuned wood grain really dresses things up. The flashy but classy 20 inch split spoke titanium finish aluminum alloy wheels also stood out. Nissan apparently paid very close attention to detail when designing and building the Murano Cabriolet, as evidenced by the unique dual pop up roll bars for rear passengers. The roll bars are not only a very smart safety feature but look really cool and add another sporty flavor to the vehicle.
My fellow media driver and I chose a Caribbean colored Murano Cross Cabriolet for our media drive. Once the top was down we were on our way to Nissan Design America. The power generated from the standard 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 was sufficient and smooth but remember, we are talking a crossover here, so don't expect a lighting fast take off in the vehicle. The Xtronic CVT contributed to a the smoothness of the Murano Cabriolet. Also, credit to the engineers as the turning radius was excellent and the high sight lines were really a unique feeling in a convertible. It's very rare that a vehicle these days goes into uncharted territory the way the 2011 Nissan Murano Crossover Cabriolet has and still delivers. As we drove through San Diego, I noticed gawking and head nodding approval coming in from all directions. In the land of Del Mar, where high end sports cars are a dime a dozen, I considered it high praise. Since the Murano could be one of the main vehicles for so many of its customers, Nissan was smart to make an intuitive all wheel drive system standard in the 2011 Nissan Murano Crossover Cabriolet. Although I didn't get the chance to hit Baja for some off-road encounters, those of us in the MidWest appreciate the value of AWD. Add in heated front seats and a heated steering wheel and you can see that this drop top was designed to be a 365 day machine. During our drive I also noticed the modified and powerful BOSE sound system adjusted for when the top is down. The sun felt great and, with all of the room in the Murano Cabriolet, I was envisioning how fun it would be to have the friends and family enjoying the experience of this breakout segment's new ride.
Once we arrived at Nissan Design America we were met by Francois Farion, Interior & Color Design Manager at Nissan Design. Farion explained the thought process and finer points of the design method behind the Nissan Murano Crossover Cabriolet. I learned that Nissan was targeting the "unmet needs" of the convertible market regarding interior passenger space, technology and value for consumers. Nissan describes the 2011 Nissan Murano Cabriolet as a "no compromise" solution for customers who need passenger room and cargo space but want to drive a drop top. The 2011 Nissan Murano Crossover Cabriolet, which goes on sale this spring, achieves 17mpg city - 22mpg highway and costs approximately $46,390 completely equipped.
I enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the 2011 Nissan Crossover Cabriolet and give Nissan credit for going outside of the box. Sometimes that's what it takes to create a new segment in this business. Nissan made the leap to be the first vehicle in the crossover convertible segment. From my vantage point, the 2011 Nissan Murano Crossover Cabriolet has the versatility to "say yes to everything".
Nissan provided flight, hotel & meals and an opportunity to drive this vehicle before it went on sale to share with our readers.
Click the thumbnails below to see full versions of each photo.