EXTERIOR

From the windshield back, the Murano CrossCabriolet is every bit a sexy convertible with a tail end that's reminiscent of its near relative, the Nissan 370Z. However, most people I polled weren't impressed by the Murano's pointed front end, and some even called it ugly.

With soft-top in place, the CrossCabriolet's profile looks similar to the Murano crossover. Top-down, I had to look at the large 20-inch wheels to remind myself it truly was a crossover and not something smaller. There's something thrilling about the combination of a crossover's master-of-the-road capabilities paired with the sheer fun of the convertible. In the last three years of reviewing cars, this CrossCabriolet is the only car I've tested that people have waved me down to inquire about it at the red lights. We also received several thumbs-up and nods of approval while driving it.

For my kids, ages 6 and 9 years old, getting in and out of the CrossCabriolet was easy. They were able to step up and into the Murano without difficulty. As a two-door vehicle, some patience was needed while loading everyone in though. Because the front passenger seat easily flips forward, we made it a rule that the kids always entered the car from the passenger side. This also saved me from readjusting my driver's seat every time. The oversized doors also required careful monitoring when the boys opened them in parking lots.

Like most convertibles, the CrossCabriolet's trunk is relatively small. Low-clearance items like duffel bags, suitcases and groceries in plastic bags could easily squat under the soft-top's housing. Taller items would pose a significant challenge.

The CrossCabriolet has a 265-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 that's paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. It gets an estimated 17/22 mpg city/highway and uses premium gasoline. I averaged 18.3 mpg during my test drive, and with the top up I inched up the average to 18.5 mpg. For those with short commutes, this level of efficiency may not bother you. Only drivers tracking more than 300 miles per week will face frequent and pricey fuel stops.

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