I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet will easily be the most surprising vehicle debut this auto show season. Why? Well, think about it. It's a two-door Nissan Murano convertible -- as unlikely a vehicle as you'd ever expect to see. Yet here we are. The car was shown on Nissan's Facebook page today and will formally debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this week. And as nutty as it sounds, I like the idea.
Nissan is either crazy or brilliant. Or both.
A car this ultra-niche is always a risky proposition, but in an automotive landscape dominated by offerings that fit neatly into pre-assigned boxes, it's refreshing to see something different. Nissan already took a gamble earlier this year with the release of the bizarre-looking Juke crossover, which is presently winning over reviewers. So while this is definitely a risk, it's a calculated one. After all, unlike the Juke, the Nissan Murano is a known entity. People like it. And this is likely to be more roomy and comfortable than, say, a droptop version of the Altima coupe would have been. On top of that, it's actually pretty neat-looking.
Will it have any utility?
We'll see. One would expect utility to take a hit as a result of this redesign -- cutting the roof off tends to have that effect -- yet in the little blurb included with the photo posted to Facebook, Nissan says there's "room for four adults, space for golf bags or luggage (even with the top down), and a premium level interior." The most important thing of all is this: People expect to make some sacrifices when they opt for a convertible. (I know. I own one.) If the Murano looks as good in person as this photo hints at, and can really swallow a couple of golf bags, people are likely to be happy.
I'm dying to see more, so I'll be paying close attention (albeit from afar) as the L.A. Auto Show kicks off this week. There aren't many genuinely usable four-person convertibles out there (often, the back seat stinks). It seems insane, but I think there's an audience for something like this. I can't wait to check it out in person myself. A midsize SUV that's also a convertible? This is a gutsy move by Nissan.