The taxonomy of the auto industry these days mostly breaks down to three branches: big, fast and green. A fourth class all but vanished in 2014: really weird vehicles.
That was the year Nissan scrapped its Murano CrossCabriolet, arguably the strangest car of the 21st century. The CrossCabriolet was a vehicular chimera, mashing up the body of an SUV with the ragtop of a convertible sports car. It was big, heavy and high off the ground, but had less cargo space than a Volkswagen Beetle. It looked plenty sporty with only two doors, but came with a continuously variable transmission (read: no “gears”), tended to vibrate at speed and cornered like a bucket of sand on a skateboard.
Car & Driver pulled no punches in its seminal review: “Drivers will hate this car.” This unholy beast wasn’t cheap, either, setting buyers back almost $45,000. And as if all of that weren’t bad enough, it was styled like a retirement-home cocktail party in shades of “Merlot” or “Glacier Pearl.”
In the pantheon of product misfires, the CrossCabriolet seemed to be right up there with New Coke and the GoPro drone -- at least, according to car people. Drivers, however, are a wider demographic, and many of them loved this strange beast with a passion ordinarily reserved for terrible sports teams and rescued pets.
“There’s always people that look for something weird, something different,” said Tim Fleming, manager of industry forecasting at Kelley Blue Book. There’s no accounting, in other words, for taste.
So, the strange events that followed the final emergence of a CrossCabriolet from an assembly line in Kyusha, Japan, shouldn’t have come as a surprise. In the four years since, the vehicle has become a sought-after prize. A 2014 iteration is now trading hands for about two-thirds of the sticker price, according to CarGurus.com, far higher than the average 43 percent garnered by other vehicles from the same era.
At press-time, 74 CrossCabriolets were listed on Cars.com, with a median price of $25,000. A cherry version such as this one now commands more money than a new Nissan Murano.