2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet Driving Impressions

Our first impression was that the steering wheel shook, over rough pavement. It wasn't the old convertible cowl shake, but it was some kind of shake forward of the A pillars. A fellow journalist with whom we shared seat time called it a vibration, occurring at speeds of 40 mph and below. He felt it on smooth pavement, but we only felt it over patches. Once at 50 mph it shook a lot, at least a lot for a brand-new $46,000 vehicle.

The rest of the time, the ride was very smooth. The handling around-town wasn't exactly nimble, but it didn't feel heavy as we thought it might. A bit slow, but it is what it is.

There's no manual mode to the CVT, which can be a dealbreaker in some cars, but not the CrossCabriolet. Nissan seems to have figured out how to program the continuously variable transaxle so it feels more like an automatic transmission and less like a tachometer-jumping CVT. Nissan calls their second-generation CVT Xtronic, using Adaptive Shift Control for sporty response. We like it.

The CrossCabriolet feels like it's pulling a lot of weight, when you accelerate uphill to maybe 40 mph, even with its 248 pound-feet of torque, which peaks at 4400 rpm. That's because it is; it's pulling 4438 pounds, or 230 pounds more than the Murano, distributed at 57/43. That knocks 1 mpg off the fuel mileage, down to 17 highway and 22 city.

But when you get out on the freeway and boot it, all 265 horses behind the wonderful 3.5-liter V6 pull you smoothly and effortlessly up to 80 miles per hour. We love this engine, and always have.

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