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Nissan Plans

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On: Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 3:35PM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan Plans

When you first hear that Nissan is planning a convertible version of the Murano crossover, it's nearly impossible to have any reaction that doesn't include a version of "WTF?!!" Perfectly natural. According to a new Automotive News report, that's exactly what the company is going for. Nissan realizes that the Murano convertible will have a polarizing effect, but hopes that the model will draw attention to the brand and develop some buzz. It's hard to see how that plan will fail.

The Murano convertible will hit dealers sometime next year as a 2012 model. It will lose two doors and feature a soft top. Rumors indicate that Nissan will debut the model at the 2010 LA Auto Show in December.

The Murano convertible will stand in a league of its own when it hits the market. The closest vehicles that are being floated around for comparison are the 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible and the more classic Jeep Wrangler soft-top. Neither of those models are directly congruous with the Murano crossover, and in reality, the Nissan falls more in between them than in the same category as either. The closest thing that the market has seen to a true crossover convertible--the 2007 Audi Cross Cabriolet quattro--never made it past the concept that Audi debuted at the 2007 LA Auto Show.

The vehicle's unique nature is exactly what Nissan is counting on. The idea of a Murano convertible is probably strange to anyone outside of Nissan, but Brian Carolin, Nissan North America Inc.'s senior vice president for sales and marketing, recognizes its value. He told Automotive News that the car will be an image vehicle for Nissan, and explained: ""It's not going to be a volume car. But there's a degree of bravery for us to bring out a car like that right now. It will surprise a lot of people."

Nissan showed the new model to dealers at a meeting earlier this month in Las Vegas. At least one of them was impressed, opining that the new crossover looks better with its top down than up.

The Nissan Murano is a mid-sized crossover that was first introduced as a 2003 model. It was nominated for a "North American Truck of the Year" award in 2003. The Murano was Nissan's first crossover and remains its largest, sitting on top of a range that now includes the Rogue and Juke, the latter of which will make its market debut later year. The Murano underwent a full redesign for the 2009 model year.

The 2010 LA Auto Show will open to the media on November 17 and will open doors to the public from November 19 through November 28. In addition to the expected debut of the Murano convertible, the show will host around 20 other debuts.


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