Can the Nissan Murano be a successful convertible?
Will you pony up $50,000 for the 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet?
Probably not, if history is any indication.
The arrival in Nissan showrooms of the latest experiment in adding some open-air mojo to a sport-utility vehicle warrants a discussion of the lackluster record of convertible trucks and SUVs.
From time to time, carmakers attempt to gin up excitement by lopping off the top of one of their better-selling models.
They hope to goose sales and spark a trend.
Usually they fail miserably at both.
I am spending a week with the new Murano CrossCabriolet, the latest soft-top SUV.
Really a crossover, Murano is arguably the least-likely vehicle ever to make the leap to convertible.
Like a bear on roller skates, something about it just looks a little off.
For families, the CrossCabriolet overcomes the No. 1 complaint about convertibles in general that they offer stingy rear-seat legroom and trunk space.
Although one or two premium-luxury convertibles, such as the $447,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead, has more than the CrossCabriolet's 36.3 inches of rear-seat legroom, you have to spend $1.4 million on the Maybach Landaulet to get more than the Nissan's 14.5 cubic feet of trunk capacity.
Four adults and their luggage can actually take a trip in the CrossCabriolet with the top raised or lowered.
That's one big check mark in the "plus" column.
However, along with its luxury price tag and polarizing styling, the convertible Murano must overcome history.
For the most part, SUV and truck convertibles are novelties; and once that novelty wears off, sales plummet.
Over the past 20 years, you can count the Isuzu Amigo Convertible, the Dodge Dakota Convertible, the Suzuki Samurai/Chevrolet Tracker Convertibles, Land Rover Freelander Convertible and Chevrolet SSR among the list of failures.
Even earlier were convertible versions of the International Harvester Scout, Ford Bronco, Chevrolet Blazer, Dodge Ramcharger and Toyota FJ40.
Through it all, only Jeep successfully sold a soft-top utility vehicle.
Today we know it as Wrangler, surviving in one form or another for 70 years.
Jeep proves that a successful utility convertible, even if unlikely, is possible.
The question is, can the CrossCabriolet join Wrangler in its success?
Sure, it can. But will it?
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