Crossover & Midsize

Worst Car Wednesday: 2011-14 Nissan CrossCabriolet

It has comfortable front seats. That’s the only positive review we could find for the much-derided 2011-14 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet convertible SUV. Take the standard Murano crossover and strip away any of its positive attributes and you get the CrossCabriolet. Small trunk, cramped seating, cowl shake you could mix a margarita with, expensive, and extra weight that takes all performance away. Then there are looks only a mother would love. The Nissan CrossCabriolet is the quintessential Worst Car Wednesday candidate.

Rumored to have been suggested by former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, the CrossCabriolet should have remained as just a suggestion. But instead, Nissan went through with it. Once it was built and the compromises slap you in the face how was Nissan supposed to market it?

Nissan saw the CrossCabriolet as attracting “affluent, aged customers”

2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet convertible SUV | Nissan

As an upmarket model, Nissan saw it as attracting “affluent, aged customers.” It was probably Nissan’s wishful thinking that aged customers probably don’t tax their vehicles. That way nobody would notice the extra heft of the all-wheel-drive CVT transmission, compromised rear visibility, and cowl shake and chassis shimmy so prominent they were marketed as added features.

One of the biggest puzzles to CrossCabriolet’s development was how much unique sheet metal is required. Virtually everything from the shaky cowl back required unique sheet metal. Going from the standard Murano four-door layout to a two-door will do that. But the cost. We wonder if Nissan actually made a profit on these two-door monstrosities? 

Sometimes a convertible version of a car is better looking. That never was the case with the drop-top Murano. Whether up or down the convertible top looked awkward. The slant of the base of the top and long, laid-back windshield made for a stubby profile. And having added ground clearance as a crossover didn’t add any visual improvement. From any angle, the look was one of a truncated cartoon car. All Worst Car Wednesday attributes.

You could buy a 1970s leisure suit and get the same response for less money 

2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet convertible SUV | Nissan

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With a 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 at 245 hp, the added heft was always a workout for the engine. And at over $47,000 it was a lot of money for a lot of embarrassment. You could buy a 1970s leisure suit and get the same response for a lot less money. 

There has always been a bit of confusion about the rear windows so we thought we could at least enlighten you. There is the regular rear window that is too high to see out of. Then there is another strip of a window above that. It has always been assumed that because the view out of the back is so bad this band was added to improve backing up.

But that is not why it is there. There are two roll bars buried out in the back that extend in a rollover. To be able to extend they need to get past the top. So that little plastic band of a window is there for the roll bars pierce through. They are so high they couldn’t improve visibility in any form.

Most all of the CrossCabriolets we’ve seen in the wild have white interiors

2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet convertible SUV | Nissan

Just to add to the oddity of the CrossCabriolet, most all of the ones we’ve seen in the wild have white interiors. Not all, but most. We have seen the rare black or tan substitute, but we almost get the sense they are an extra-cost option. 

The thing is you rarely ever see one in the wild. Sales were dreadful. Nissan sold 1,159 CrossCabs in 2011. Its best year was 2012 with 3,278 finding buyers. Sales fell off a cliff in 2013 at 1,332 having found buyers. Likely with a fat dealer incentive. These numbers were just too small for the investment of tooling, marketing, and Nissan’s reputation.