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Nissan: Murano News

 
Old 03-08-2011, 11:25 AM
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1st Drive: 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
Boldy Going Where No Crossover Has Gone Before

We should have known better, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to believe the rumors. For over two years now, we've heard whispers of Nissan's plan to introduce a convertible version of its Murano crossover, but the idea seemed so far-fetched that we just couldn't wrap our gray matter around it. We managed to fall sleep at night by dismissing the notion as yet another silly bit of industry rumor-mongering, the sort of fodder serially dished out by British auto weeklies that splash absurd future product predictions on their covers (generally accompanied by fanciful artist's renderings) to sell more paper at the newsstand.

We doubted it, but we should have known better. Nissan has shown real design bravery lately, as well as an unquenchable desire to fill any and all white space in its portfolio. Remember, it was Nissan's product planners who conceived of a car designed exclusively with a T-square, throwing in a bit of asymmetrical glass and a patch of fake grass atop the dashboard – just in case anyone thought the resulting box was too boring. The automaker then announced that it was making a big bet on a brilliant but funny looking $33,000 5-door only capable of driving 100 miles before having to have its e-umbilical cord reattached. It followed this up with a tiny yet oddly lovable space-age hatchback-crossovery thing wearing a Kabuki mask. In retrospect, we shouldn't be questioning Nissan's wisdom in lopping the top off its mid-size crossover to create a ragtop – we should be wondering what's taken it so long.

As we stand around looking at the CrossCabriolet at its sun-drenched San Diego launch, we can't help but be confounded. By all rights, the CrossCabriolet ought to look like a SEMA refugee. You know the type: four doors, shadetree roofectomy by Sawzall, a frumpy and ill-fitting top and a targa bar straddling the passenger compartment to keep the whole thing from collapsing in on itself. Amazingly, in person, the Murano convertible doesn't look anything like this. Nissan has clearly expended a surprisingly large amount of styling and engineering resources on the project, and the resulting vehicle looks more cohesive than it has any right to.



Nissan's biggest commitment to the model was lopping off the rear doors and lengthening the front slammers by a whopping 7.9 inches. As the wheelbase between the 20-inch alloys remains the same at 111.2 inches (overall length and width are largely unchanged), the look isn't completely harmonious, but it's surprising how well it comes together. That's largely because Nissan has fitted the Murano with all-new bodywork from the A-pillar rearward. The look is further helped by the re-raked windshield, the angle of which has been adjusted to improve top-down airflow. As an added benefit, the faster angle helps reduce the visual 'beach buggy' quotient. Finally, by instituting an entire network of unseen structural reinforcements, Nissan has avoided adding the dreaded homecoming parade basket handle.

The CrossCabriolet's rear aspect is at once the most unique and troublesome, thanks largely to the top's bizarre split-window design. In practice, the narrow, heavily smoked upper glass pane seems like a valuable idea to aid in rearward visibility, but in reality, it's too horizontal to do much good, and the glass is actually behind the scalps of rear-seat passengers, so they don't really benefit from a skylight, either. In the end, the CrossCabriolet isn't the eyesore one might expect, but we don't see any Red Dot design awards in its future, either.

While we can question the advisability of turning a crossover into a dιcapotable (this thing is so bizarre it seems only fitting to refer to it in French terms), there's no denying the standard Murano's credentials. With smooth, solid power from its 24-valve, 3.5-liter V6 (tuned for 265 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque), an incredibly well-behaved CVT and surprisingly luxurious accommodations, the hardtop Murano is one of our very favorite crossovers. Thankfully, many of those strong points have been preserved in the new CrossCabriolet, including the same nicely formed instrument panel, complete with high-quality plastics and legible gauges. We particularly like the available high-grade camel leather – a $500 option. Even without the high-dollar hides, the cabin still plays above its station.



Interestingly, Nissan has also splurged enough to give the CrossCabriolet its own seats. As expected, the rear goes from a three-across bench to more sculpted places for two in order to make space for the top mechanism. They're surprisingly roomy, though, and offer enough head and leg room even for 6-footers, but a center armrest would've been nice. What we didn't expect, however, was for Nissan to splash out a few bucks to resculpt the front seatbacks to afford better outward visibility to those sitting in back. Still, we're not quite sure why they didn't pop for an integrated-belt solution – scrambling into the back is a deliberate enough process because of the slow-to-slide power driver's seat – having to unsnap the belt loop each time you get in and out of the back only exacerbates the issue. We also wouldn't mind if Nissan fitted shingle-style headrests to improve rear visibility, but the twin hoops (with pyrotechnic pop-up rollbars) would probably still get in the way.

As you might expect, Nissan has bent over backwards in an attempt to maintain the Murano's structural integrity – no small task considering the size of the opening created through the convertible process. Engineers have reinforced what's left of the B-pillar area, gusseted the sills and floors, and added cross-braces and support everywhere they could. Even still, physics cannot be denied – the CrossCab suffers from a fair bit of cowl and mirror shake, and there's a disconcerting amount of steering column shudder on rough roads – a confidence-sapping condition exacerbated by the Murano's light, feel-free power steering (a problem largely shared with the standard Murano, though not to this degree). To its credit, our Sunset Bronze tester emitted nary a squeak or a rattle, even though our tester was a preproduction example.



All of those reinforcements and an admittedly artfully folding top means that the CrossCab weighs about 230 pounds more than its straight-laced sibling. Even though Nissan's origami artists have managed to get the five-panel roof to stow into a space only 20-percent larger than that of the 370Z Roadster, the mechanism has still taken a toll on cargo space. Top-up, the cargo capacity is 12.3 cubic feet, and with the roof lowered, it drops to 7.6 cubes, still enough for a couple of golf bags. Unfortunately, the lid cannot be raised or lowered unless stationary, and we found interior to be a bit boomy at highway speeds with the roof closed and windows up – particularly for rear-seat passengers.

As in the standard Murano, the drivetrain is smartly done, offering ample power and refinement, but the CrossCab simply isn't as good to drive enthusiastically as its hard-hatted counterpart, something we blame on the body structure and perhaps a bit on the added weight. Simply put, this high-rider makes it immediately clear that it's built for cruising and not canyon carving, so cruise we did. Besides, loping along and enjoying the view is better for preserving the high-octane-drinking CC's 17 miles per gallon city and 22 mpg EPA highway fuel economy estimates.

At the end of the day, while we're all for boldly iconoclastic design, the CrossCabriolet leaves us with far more questions than answers. We're not sure why Carlos Ghosn green-lighted something like this over a less costly and seemingly more salable concept like a convertible version of the Altima Coupe (the CC is understood to be one of the CEO's pet projects). Company officials insist that as the crossover segment continues its rapid expansion, the genre will inevitably morph and grow enough to accept a whole range of bodystyles, and Nissan clearly wants to lead the charge.


That may be right, but we still think the company's latest model is going to be an awfully tough sell, if for no other reason than its dear asking price – $47,190 delivered. The Murano CC only comes one way – fully loaded – including leather, navigation, HID headlamps, Bose audio, and so on. To be fair, an equivalent hardtop LE model with navigation and AWD rings up at $41,820, so by that yardstick, the price premium to go topless is actually quite reasonable, but the dynamic and spacial tradeoffs are still substantial. The CrossCabriolet may have no clear rivals, but at nearly $50k, Nissan's latest is wading treacherously deep into luxury waters. This is Audi A5 Cabriolet territory, and we'd happily trade the Nissan's lofty driving perch and added rear seat and cargo space for the far superior driving dynamics, fuel economy and more desirable badge on offer from Ingolstadt.

Of course, it probably doesn't matter what we think. Nissan says it already has some 900 pre-orders and thousands more requesting information on its latest creation. At least one thing is clear: Whether you're looking upon the CrossCabriolet's funky flanks with awe, bemusement, longing or contempt, it's going to be fun to chart this pilgrim's progress when it hits showrooms later this month.

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Old 03-08-2011, 01:25 PM
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Why?
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Old 03-08-2011, 08:43 PM
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^ x2



It's like they thought "how can we make a car more useless than the ZDX?"
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Old 03-08-2011, 08:52 PM
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like I said already, that thing looks to be raised/higher than regular cars (thus the "cross" in CrossCabriolet), without any overhead protection in case of it flipping over, they'll have to weigh that thing down sooooooo much in order to pass safety tests/roll test, it's going to have shit mpgs.
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:50 PM
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Its a total "Why?" car...but I applaud them for having the balls to make it.
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:11 AM
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The female Lexus RX/Cadillac SRX shoppers will be all over it...high seating position, SUV-like size, PLUS a convertible top? They're gonna love it...
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:14 AM
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MAN, i would LOVE to get my hands on a SUV vert. its basically my dream setup. riding high with the top down = WINNING.

id be all over this thing, but the design is just atrocious. the mini countryman panoramic is pretty awesome though.
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:32 AM
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this shit is ugly as fuckkkk.


erm...uglier
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:16 AM
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This cars throws "practicality" out the window... it is heavy (bad gas mileage) and b/c you have the store the roof, it does not have much cargo space... which is the point of getting a SUV (even a crossover). Plus at 46K, it is more expensive than the FX50, which is a better crossover...
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Old 03-09-2011, 10:27 AM
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I still each time I see the cabrio Murano...


But, hey...give Nissan some kudos to be enough to build one. At least they take some risks.




...then, there's Honda.
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Old 03-09-2011, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by jordexj View Post
This cars throws "practicality" out the window... it is heavy (bad gas mileage) and b/c you have the store the roof, it does not have much cargo space... which is the point of getting a SUV (even a crossover). Plus at 46K, it is more expensive than the FX50, which is a better crossover...
wait, wait, WAIT. did you say 46k? umm, not for this, under a nissan badge. they should have chopped and raised an EX35 for that pricetag.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by jordexj View Post
This cars throws "practicality" out the window... it is heavy (bad gas mileage) and b/c you have the store the roof, it does not have much cargo space... which is the point of getting a SUV (even a crossover). Plus at 46K, it is more expensive than the FX50, which is a better crossover...
Agree, but FYI, FX50 cost a lot more than $46k
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by is300eater View Post
Agree, but FYI, FX50 cost a lot more than $46k
Yup...cuz, otherwise, I got ripped off!
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:12 PM
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this car is actually very practical, or at least has many different uses - its a convertible, accomodating 4 seater, and an SUV. a married couple with 2 small kids in a warm climated area could get A LOT of use out of this thing. it fits the bill on so many different levels - grocery getting, soccer mom, weekend getaway, beach cruiser, etc. etc. all with AWD capabilities. unfortunately, for us, nissan thinks that they could get away with a high price for this xxx-in-1 car...

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Old 03-10-2011, 07:42 PM
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Accommodating? Yeah it has four seats. And two doors. Did you see the trunk? It sucks if you have kids. Yeah it's an SUV - minus the Sport and Utility. If you think this turd is practical... well, cocaine's a hell of a drug.
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Old 03-11-2011, 07:24 AM
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youre comparing it to an suv, im comparing it to a convertible.

there are very few verts, if any, that allow you to grab a few things and a kid or two and go on a weekend trip. if there is any vert that could do it, this is it. that, to me, adds practicality.

this thing is going to be marketed to coastal cities - LA, San Diego, San Fran, Miami. This thing is very practical for a young family to take weekend trips out to Monterrey, Key West, etc. etc. etc.

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Old 03-11-2011, 08:16 AM
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But it's not. It's just as impractical as a regular convertible. It's also uglier, taller, and much heavier.
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Old 03-11-2011, 08:33 AM
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I must be weird because I like it.
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Old 03-11-2011, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Aman View Post
But it's not. It's just as impractical as a regular convertible. It's also uglier, taller, and much heavier.
idk - you cant fit two teens in the back of a vert.

the only other car that offers as much as this is the open air wrangler - but the luxury isnt there.
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:33 AM
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I don't think this car's back seat is any spacious than your average Sebring or Mustang vert.
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Old 03-13-2011, 12:44 PM
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Dont understand this car. especially in these times......and that's a hefty price to pay.
wats the practicality of a murano/vert??
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:02 PM
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Does EVERY car have to practical...
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Sarlacc View Post
Does EVERY car have to practical...
no...but murano? yes

if u're looking for a convertible, this wouldn't be it. Why not buy a 328 ic? or even the G37 vert?
for $47k this murano is no bargain
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:48 PM
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i dont remember anyone saying anything when Audi had a similar concept a few years ago

If fact most people loved it.
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Old 03-13-2011, 10:02 PM
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We use to have a '72 Blazer

(Not my actual truck.) In some way the Murano reminds me of it.
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Old 03-13-2011, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Sarlacc View Post
i dont remember anyone saying anything when Audi had a similar concept a few years ago

If fact most people loved it.
wat audi is this?
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Old 03-13-2011, 11:12 PM
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The Cross Cabriolet Concept...I have my own pics of it somewhere from one of the auto shows...

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Old 03-13-2011, 11:14 PM
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I don't remember many people liking the Cross-Cabriolet... my
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Old 03-13-2011, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Sarlacc View Post
The Cross Cabriolet Concept...I have my own pics of it somewhere from one of the auto shows...

that was back in 07 i believe...
never made it to production? prolly a good idea....nissan shoulda scrapped their crosscab too
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Old 03-14-2011, 12:38 AM
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Good thing that whole idea about opinions and assholes exists...
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Old 03-14-2011, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Sarlacc View Post
Good thing that whole idea about opinions and assholes exists...
yea very true, forums like this wouldn't exist either
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Old 03-14-2011, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Sarlacc View Post
Good thing that whole idea about opinions and assholes exists...
you have to admit the audi looks leaps and bounds better than this nissan thing.
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Old 03-14-2011, 10:08 AM
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The Audi's just a concept, they're supposed to be useless.
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Old 03-14-2011, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Sarlacc View Post
The Cross Cabriolet Concept...I have my own pics of it somewhere from one of the auto shows...

too cool. i would kill for that car. what a great cruiser.

none of you guys are into open air SUVs?
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Old 03-14-2011, 01:48 PM
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^ I miss my K5 Blazer.
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Old 03-14-2011, 01:49 PM
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The whole reason people buy CUVs are for the practicality aspect (let's imagine minivans didn't exist). Chop the top, slash the trunk space and back seat space, and the practicality aspect's gone. What's the point of having an open-air CUV over a regular convertible?

Open-air SUVs are better. Stuff like the Jeep Wrangler and that Blazer Hapa posted. Those cars actually have redeeming qualities.

Give this Murano a reason for existing, and it'll get better reception.
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Old 03-14-2011, 02:08 PM
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Red face What next ?

Nissan and other open-air SUV's....... not too good in a rollover ...
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Old 03-14-2011, 02:17 PM
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well, theres certainly a fun aspect. sitting up high with the top down. its a great city/beach cruiser with lots a street appeal.

but im biased, since i could only think of how amazing it would be to have a setup like that in miami. imo, if you live in an area thats 70+ everyday, you could get away with having a large vert as a single car. to me, thats valuable. im not saying the murano is the answer - i just dig the idea of an open-air cuv. it certain situations/locations, it works well. as mentioned earlier, theres could be a good amount of interest for something like this in Cali, Florida, etc.

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Old 03-14-2011, 02:35 PM
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you could make the argument that the trunk space is on par with a regular vert. but, the interior seating quarters is still as large of the regular murano. theres a certain amount of interior spaciousness that allows this car to used day in and day out - whereas most verts dont offer that type of verstaility. for warm climate areas, this is a big win, b/c you could get away with having this large vert as your only car.
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Old 03-14-2011, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermonMermon View Post
well, theres certainly a fun aspect. sitting up high with the top down. its a great city/beach cruiser with lots a street appeal.

but im biased, since i could only think of how amazing it would be to have a setup like that in miami. imo, if you live in an area thats 70+ everyday, you could get away with having a large vert as a single car. to me, thats valuable. im not saying the murano is the answer - i just dig the idea of an open-air cuv. it certain situations/locations, it works well. as mentioned earlier, theres could be a good amount of interest for something like this in Cali, Florida, etc.
I guess you're right, for some people that is fun. I dunno if it's best for Nissan, though. Maybe if it were a Merc or BMW, it would appeal to the high-end boulevardier types that buy a car strictly on brand/aesthetics. But even then I think it's kinda pointless, but then again those people buy pointless cars.

Originally Posted by ThermonMermon View Post
you could make the argument that the trunk space is on par with a regular vert. but, the interior seating quarters is still as large of the regular murano. theres a certain amount of interior spaciousness that allows this car to used day in and day out - whereas most verts dont offer that type of verstaility. for warm climate areas, this is a big win, b/c you could get away with having this large vert as your only car.
Is the interior space as much as the regular Murano? I don't know what the official numbers are regarding interior space, but that top's gotta go somewhere. I still don't think it offers much, if anything over a regular convertible aside from a high-seating position.
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