Cars Nobody Asked For: Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet

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For whatever reason, Nissan thought that cutting the top off its popular Murano crossover would be a good idea. The CrossCabriolet is the horrific result.

The thing about innovation is that sometimes you come up with something spectacular, something which somebody might not have ever asked for, but only because they didn't know they wanted it. But sometimes you come out with the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Not that absolutely everybody hates the CrossCabriolet, but it certainly isn't something anyone was clamoring for before, and its sales figures show that it's not something they're realizing they need.

The CrossCabriolet is of course based on the Murano crossover, which is has been quite a popular and highly praised vehicle since it was first introduced in 2002. It was built on the same platform that underpinned the Altima and was powered by the engine out of the 350Z. So it had a good start. The Murano set a new standard for ride and handling in its class, and even the guys at Top Gear, who normally hate anything designed for the American market, actually loved it. Nissan had a vehicle which was very well-liked and sold well, so it decided to make a convertible version.

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This is something which would be perfectly logical if it was a regular car, but there's a reason why it typically isn't done with crossovers (short of proper SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender) - and the automotive industry soon found out why. Although the idea might have made some measure of sense on paper (to some executives in some office somewhere, anyway), once the Murano CrossCabriolet was built, it was a very different story. One look at its awkward proportions illustrates the point aptly enough, and apparently has sufficed to dissuade any potential copy-cats.

With a design this off the wall, it'd be all too easy to overlook the other ways in which Nissan botched the Murano CrossCabriolet. The most important of these was its handling. There will be a certain inevitable degradation in handling any time you saw the roof off of a hardtop, but it is so noticeable on the CrossCarbiolet partly because the Murano normally handles so well for a crossover, and partly because it's such a large aperture to cut into a car's frame, but also because Nissan just didn't seem to care very much about how the finished product would handle out on the street.

There was some reinforcing done, and this did add a couple hundred pounds to the vehicle's weight, but it doesn't seem to have done much. Pulitzer Prize-winning automotive journalist Dan Neil famously said it was possessed of "a front-end shake that would mix a good daiquiri." Neil absolutely trashed the CrossCabriolet, and he was far from the only one. Forbes named it as "the most hated car of 2011", and invoked the names of the Mercedes R-Class and Pontiac Aztek in order to describe just how it rated. Quite a bit of the criticism had to do with the vehicle's styling, but the price also drew fire, as the $47,000 sticker was deemed completely unjustifiable.

Sales have understandably been less than spectacular, but this is in no way surprising. Buyers have tended to be wealthy, but seeing as this is an expensive vehicle, that was to be expected. Although it still serves as one more example of how you can't buy taste. Its popularity with women has been above average, but it was assumed right from the beginning that this would be true, as it is with every convertible. It being only a couple years on, Nissan is still building the Murano CrossCabriolet, but now is the time to start taking bets on how much longer it will last. At the end of the day, that's probably the most fun you could have with this vehicle, anyway.

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