By on July 9, 2014

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Nissan will kill off two of its quirkiest vehicles for 2015. Both the Cube and Murano CrossCabriolet will disappear in the coming model year.

The CrossCabriolet, which famously found a home among a dementia-stricken man, will die along with the current Murano, as Nissan prepares for the 2015 model year and the all-new Murano.

The Cube, which sold is small numbers, will presumably get the axe because everyone interested in a geometric-shaped Japanese car has already bought a Scion xB.

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54 Comments on “Nissan Cube, Murano CrossCabriolet To Die...”


  • avatar

    It’s amazing that vehicles like this ever get green-lights.

    The Crosscabriolet wouldn’t be a terrible purchase if you’re in the need of a new car and want something radically-different, but there are so many better choices out there.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    and nothing of value was lost.

  • avatar

    I actually do well with Cubes, so this saddens me a touch.

    The loss of the CrossCab is just the loss of something else to laugh at.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      Salesmen at our local dealership say cubes don’t sit on the lot very long despite their inability to offer much in the way of discounts. That says to me the problem isn’t that people don’t want to buy them. The problem is not enough people know they exist! Even if Nissan’s only making four or five percent margins on the cube, wouldn’t it be better to spend a little more of that margin on marketing so maybe you start capturing 15,000 to 30,000 cube sales per year instead of conceding that whole market to Kia? It boggles my mind.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You know, there’s something to be said for a convertible with no sporting intentions and reasonable access.

    The problem is that an very expensive Nissan is a very tough marketing proposition.

    With the Solara and Sebring/200 gone, that leaves—what? The Eos and Beetle? They’re kind of cramped for four.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

      No ambition of being a sports car!

      Available as a manual. Optional manual gearbox. Optional manual door locks. Manual door removal. Manual roof removal. Manual folding windshield. Manual sway bar disconnect (“wrench”) available as an option, some disassembly required.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        True, but it’s not really a user-friendly cruiser, either.

        I was thinking something in the “four ladies of a certain age” kind of car, of which the Sebring and Solara were perfect examples. I thought the Murano was a decent attempt at this market, were it not so eye-wateringly expensive.

        Now, I know there really is no market for non-premium, non-sporting larger convertibles. Which I feel is a shame.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Well, I have to agree with that, psarhjinian; the JKU is a bit high to climb into when you’re a ‘little old lady’.

          Strangely though, I don’t see that stereotype in the 200/Solara type of vehicle either. They’re either in the Soul/xB sized vehicles or they’re in the stereotypical Buick–a pretty plain-jane but comfortable sedan that to be honest is that touch bigger than the old 200 and well below the Solara in price. It’s the “little old men” that go for the luxury or sporty types.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    The Murano vert is the most head-scratching, WTFWTT car I’ve seen in modern times. I still hold to my theory that Ghosn made a bet with his wife, and lost, thus this thing came into existence.

    I can understand the Cube. The original XBox sold pretty well, and the Soul has taken the torch. A better engine choice would have helped sales. I liked the styling but the anemic power plant turned me off.

    Sometimes quirky works… no matter how much the internet (most of which never drove it) hates the Juke, it has been successful. All those women who don’t don’t hang around on message boards? (and can you blame them?) Yeah they’re the ones buying, driving and enjoying it.

  • avatar
    Toad

    The Cube is an odd car to begin with, and Nissan took it a step further with really odd color choices. A military green, flat red, quirky blue did not help. A better color palette and more units produced with light interiors may have helped sales. Throw in the side swing door instead of a conventional hatchback and the car was just a little too “out there” for most buyers.

    As an around town, errand runner, or light commuter it is actually a great car.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Considering how many Cubes I see around where I live, I find it hard to believe that they’re dropping it. True, it’s niche and very distinctive, but I’m betting it’s more for the relatively poor fuel mileage for its size than because people are buying the Scion xB–of which I see far fewer examples.

    And apparently it’s not that they’re ‘killing’ the Murano that the CCab is disappearing, but a complete remodeling of the car itself. I would imagine the cabriolet version was just sick, which may be why nobody bought it. It’s hard to make a 4-door convertible that ‘just works’ the way the Jeep JKU does.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I see a fair number of Cubes around here but then again no where as many as the amount of Hamster cars.

      The Cross Cab is not a 4dr it is a 2dr. I think they might have done a little better in sales had they made it a 4dr, then again maybe not. However in many ways it is a return to the original concept of a sport utility with a way to put the top down or take it off just like the Scout, Bronco and CJ. I applaud Nissan for making it, even if it is a bit ugly but I’m not surprised that it didn’t sell, though it might have if it wasn’t based on an already ugly vehicle. There is a guy that lives near one of my houses and more than once I’ve seen him heading down to the lake with his boat in tow and the top down more than a couple of times. I could see buying a vehicle like this if it wasn’t based on such an ugly vehicle and didn’t have the vibe of an aftermarket conversion or late factory afterthought.

  • avatar

    Cube was terrific, but the price of it was rather insane. On the same day I bought a Fit for $16k, the cheapest Cube I found was a CPO trade-in with 30k miles and a manual – asking price $20k.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      That’s insane. Our dealership had new, fully loaded cube SLs at that price last time we were in for routine service. The cube S was more like $18,000 brand new.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      We picked up a new S in 2010 for $16k plus fees. Bluetooth, power windows, auto. Not bad for the money. Plus 32 mpg city or highway (aerodynamics are not great for highway speeds).

      $20k was the sticker price for the Krome top line trim version which sold in very low numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        Our cube S was $15,990 out-the-door in December 2010. Even then, the salesman tried to sell us on a Versa hatch for the same money. Even though the first-gen Versa hatch was a lot more special than the current Versa Note, in my opinion, there was no contest for us. The cube was a lot more comfortable, and my wife vastly preferred the easy visibility and parking in the little box.

        I just informed her of the news, and she’s pretty distraught. “I don’t know if I can ever find another car I like as well as I like that little cube,” she said. The Jeep Renegade looks promising, but I’m pretty sure there’s no way we’re going to a Soul or even the second-gen xB.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    It’s always an extraordinary event to see one of these on the road. I’ve seen exactly four since this car came out. They’re certainly easy to remember.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Cube is selling at 3-5 times the rate of the Cadillac ELR. If Cadillac had any sense, they’d kill off that thing for 2015.

  • avatar
    CreepyMayne

    I’m surprised about the Cube, not so much the CC. If I remember correctly, the CC was not even built in the same plant as the regular Murano, but contracted out to Magna-Steyr. Nissan probably knew that this was always going to be a low volume niche car and the convertible top probably required the unibody to be strengthened, making the return on investment of the tooling/changeover time probably not worth it.

  • avatar
    Banger

    Since nobody is bothering to say it, I will continue shouting it from the mountaintops: The cube is dying simply because Nissan doesn’t want it to live.

    In a country where Kia sells more than 100,000 Souls, itself an unashamed imitator of the U.S.-spec z13 cube an the first-gen Scion xB, there is no reason Nissan couldn’t move a healthy number of cubes. But there’s a big reason you don’t see cubes selling in larger numbers. That reason is marketing, or rather the lack of it.

    Nissan still imports the cube from Japan. The exchange rate between the Japanese Yen and the US Dollar sucks for Japanese exports right now, and fuel/shipping costs are a huge consideration as well. This makes it difficult to make a profit in the sub-$20,000 price bracket where the cube must compete with the Soul, Fit, xB, and other maximum-interior, small-footprint cars of its kind.

    I’m not saying the cube is a loss leader. Our local dealer never stocks more than a couple at a time, but they never stick around long, and I don’t expect Nissan corporate or its dealers would be selling cubes that quickly unless they were making SOME money from the sales. But I do think the profit margin on a, let’s say, $18,000 cube S package is probably a lot slimmer than it would be on a similar Versa S package despite the Versa’s much lower sticker price. That’s what Mexican production does for you. One can argue it also cheapens the Versa in other ways, but now is neither the time nor the place for that discussion.

    Nissan hasn’t actively marketed the cube beyond maintaining a barely utilized Facebook page for the car and its cult following, unless you count the initial roll-out and marketing push that happened in 2009. They quickly had a mild PR fire to put out — cube CVTs were lunching themselves before 30,000 miles with somewhat alarming regularity — and seemingly pulled the plug on any marketing money whatsoever at that point. You’ll notice the cube hasn’t been present in Nissan TV spots since that initial roll-out period. It’s not even included in the final shot of the whole Nissan lineup that comes at the end of lots of those commercials.

    Had Nissan invested even a tenth of the marketing effort in the cube that it has invested in the Versa and Sentra, I think it would have had a fighting chance to steal some serious sales from the Soul. I don’t think the cube would have stolen half the market for boxy cars (the Soul logically having the other half). I don’t even think it would have eclipsed 50,000 units. But the first year of sales were quite strong compared to the 300-500 cubes Nissan is moving each month now, and if there had been a sustained marketing effort past 2009, I think that trend would have continued. Sure, the cube’s quirkier than the Soul. It’s more Japan-centric, where the Soul is now, in its second generation, comparatively Americanized. But that quirky, Japanese design sense is what made the first-gen xB such a hit here, and I think it could have worked in the cube’s favor if more people had even known it existed.

    Could the cube have moved 30,000 units annually? I think so, even at its somewhat inflated price. It’s more luxurious in terms of ride and interior appointments, even if its technology lags somewhat behind the Soul now, as Nissan lets the cube wither. But to reach that number of sales per year requires marketing support, which Nissan was unwilling to give. They’d much rather push you into a Versa Sedan or Versa Note or even a Sentra, any of which could be bought cheaper on any given day than a similarly trimmed cube, MSRP vs. MSRP.

    What they fail to realize is starving the cube for marketing is not pushing consumers into Versas or Sentras so much as it is watching busloads of them walk into Kia dealerships to buy Souls. The buyer of a boxy car like the cube or Soul is not content to instead buy a squat, average-looking hatchback. People who buy cubes are a different kind of buyer than people who buy a Versa.

    It’s the same problem Ford faced with the outdated, overpriced Ranger in 2012: They told us, “If you were buying the Ranger for its fuel economy, here’s a Fiesta that gets 40 MPG. And if you were buying a Ranger for its truck capability, here’s an F-150 that gets 23 MPG.” The thought was, they’d push Ranger buyers into one of those two vehicles — and hopefully the F-150, so they could keep crowing about it being the best-selling vehicle in America.

    What Ford has since realized is those Ranger customers went to Toyota and Nissan to buy Tacomas and Frontiers, both of which have put up ever-improving sales numbers since the Ranger was discontinued, despite the fact neither truck has seen a major refresh in a decade.

    That said, there’s an important difference in Nissan’s case with the cube: Grover Norquist once said he wanted his government so small he could “drown it in a bathtub,” and in Nissan’s case, they’ve starved the cube for marketing to the point that its sales are small enough to, in effect, be drowned in the bathtub of total Nissan sales. The 6,000 or so cubes Nissan might move this year in America are a drop in the bucket to the company’s total sales. So at this point, what’s it going to hurt if they kill it, right?

    I have to believe the wizards in Franklin, TN realize the folly in that logic — or at least some of them do — but it would appear the bean counters are having their unfortunate say. Having never given it the proverbial college try, I fear Nissan will never know whether its cube could have experienced even a fraction of the success Kia experienced with its Soul. And having owned a cube that my family loves since 2010, that makes me both sad and furious.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I pointed this is out in the Tesla-Scion thread a day ago. The basic reality is that Kia has pushed the soul fast and hard on television. If I see a Kia commercial it’s either an Optima or a Soul commercial. In fact I’ve seen countless soul commercials since it’s inception. Scion, Nissan, and Honda have all limited their marketing budget on their soul competitors because they’ve all but conceded the market to the soul. The Fit is the only one of the pack that can undercut the soul on price in base format but I doubt many on the Honda lots are base models as compared to souls that seem to dominate Kia lots.

      It’s a price war they aren’t willing to fight. I suspect Toyota/Scion will re-enter the that niche with a new xB in 2016 or 2017 and maybe just brand it a Toyota but Nissan looks like they’re done with it completely.

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        “It’s a price war they aren’t willing to fight.”

        They don’t have to. Even if the cube had to sell at the higher price that it does right now, there’s no reason it couldn’t work. It’s a premium subcompact that places emphasis on comfort and customization without pretending to be sporty or agile. Add NissanConnect with AroundView Monitor, maybe tweak the engine/transmission tuning just a bit to eke out another MPG or two, and I think it would still sell — but only if Nissan would give it some marketing.

        We shopped the Soul and the cube in 2010. Like ceipower, we thought the Soul was cheaper-feeling in almost every respect, and we didn’t like the interior nearly as well. The cube seemed much more airy and open inside, with its dashboard far away from you and the living room styling inside. And the pleasant surprise is we’ve been averaging about 36 MPG over the cube’s lifetime, which is better than the EPA highway figure by a respectable margin.

        Now to talk my wife into letting me buy her a new cube before they’re all gone so I can take over her old one for my daily driver when I’m not driving cars that I’m reviewing!

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          There isn’t much room to go further upmarket with the Cube. The niche market occupied by the soul is fairly well established at 15-18K. Going above that into 19-20K is putting you towards compact SUVs and mid-size sedans which is a market that’s hard to sell a cube in. Dodge Journeys, RAV4s, CR-Vs are all about 2-4K higher. There isn’t much room to grow a Cube’s price unless you’re saying throw in a series of premiums at the same price which is welcome but I think Nissan is just as well satisfied to dump the battle and let the soul dominate.

          The market for these vehicles are small buyers, they want a lot of carrying room but not spend a great deal, it’s why I think the soul dominates so easily, it’s the cheapest of the boxes and while it’s smaller and cheaper feeling than either the xB or Cube, it knows what people want in their boxes and that’s not a lot of investment.

          • 0 avatar
            Banger

            “There isn’t much room to grow a Cube’s price unless you’re saying throw in a series of premiums at the same price”

            That’s precisely what I was saying.

            And you’re precisely correct. Nissan has had it in for the cube, with no desire to improve the product.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          The Soul for 2014 brings a host of improvements that will increase sales even more. Soft touch surfaces everywhere, packed with technology, and a huge improvement in ride and handling (as it’s now based on the Cee’d).

          Drum brakes, and 122 HP don’t make the Cube “premium” at all. We found the Soul faster, better equipped, and better road manners when we shopped in 2012.

    • 0 avatar
      ceipower

      To me , the very successful Kia Soul looks cheap. I have to wonder what they will look like after 5 winters in the mid west. Kia owners shop price perhaps more so than Nissan buyers? WHo Knows

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        After 2 winters with the Soul, there has been absolutely no issues. Even the muffler shows zero surface rust after crawling under it while cleaning the rockers.

        On the other hand my brothers Wrangler has ALOT of rust on the exhaust system, it’s a 2012. He’s complained to Chrysler already about it…it honestly looks nasty.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I agree with you on the Cube but you are off base on the Ranger. Yes Ford did studies of the people who bought the Ranger and they found out that the bulk of the buyers were either fleets who wanted low profit versions and were highly likely going to put a canopy on it and people just looking for the cheapest vehicle, again low profit. The buyer of the loaded 4.0 4×4 Super Cab, the one they actually made money on had already moved to the F150. So for the cheap buyers they could have the Fiesta, the fleet buyers the Transit Connect and for the profitable buyers they could step up to the F150. The investment required to tool up for the US spec version of the Global Ranger was too high to save that few of sales and it certainly had the potential to steal some of those F150 buyers who had outgrown the compact Ranger but really wanted a mid-size truck. If you look at the sales numbers you’ll find that the increases in Tacoma and Frontier don’t add up to the number of sales of the final year of the Ranger and you have to consider that sales have been increasing anyway. Fact is the less than full size segment lost market share when the Ranger went away. No not as much as the share that the Ranger had so some buyers did move to Toyota or Nissan but as Ford predicted not enough for them to chase.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    So you’re saying I should be able to pickup a crosscabriolet in 2020 for cheap? Sounds interesting. I keep tempting myself with a convertible but I realize it would be a half-year car at best, still something that silly and exotic would be worth saving, like being the last man with a Saab 900 convertible…Stupid, but satisfied.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    I Consider myself ambivalent as to the styling of both these vehicles. I wouldn’t have ever considered either one as a purchase. BUT…they were not problem prone lemons , they sold in low numbers and both are rather unique statements of a kind of “style”. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if 20 years from now the surviving cross cabrio’s are selling for decent money to collectors. It has all the things necessary to make it so.

  • avatar
    James2

    My day would be made if Nissan added the Puke, er, Juke to the kill list.

  • avatar
    Rday

    pricing was high and reliability was only so so according to CR. Too bad toyota screwed up on the second gen xb.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I recall Motorweek on PBS about a year or so ago seeing little point in the Mur-X-cab. I think FMCO have better sense of direction than Nissan NA. I was told at my dealer last Sat now they can’t move the Note my neck of the woods. First gen Versa hatch did much better.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    All this talk about Cube and Soul sales. Well who is supposedly buying these ‘hot sellers’? Fleets.

    I see more Souls in the Rental Car lots at O’Hare International than anywhere else. They are getting dumped into fleets. No, I don’t see any 25 y/o ‘hipsters’ driving them, only middle aged biz travelers forced into one, since a mid size car was not available. Hipsters get Jeeps, or bicycles.

    The Cube is a big seller, for medical Lab Testing companies delivering samples. Where employees have to go to get ‘random’ drug tests.

    Good riddance, Soul is next, which is the fate of most fleet queens.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      You’d be positively shocked to visit my tiny town of roughly 4,000 residents and witness just how many of those people are driving Souls. These are not fleet queens in my part of the country. Yes, they exist in rental fleets. Then again, so did cubes at one point. I know at least one cube owner who became a cube owner after her car got totaled when someone rear-ended it at a traffic light, and the rental company put her in a cube for a few days afterward. If anything, the fleet versions of the Soul are probably doing the same work for Kia, convincing people to give the funky Hamstermobile an honest look.

      In my neighborhood, the only medical lab fleet cars have been Chevy HHRs, and after they went out of production, the company moved to (brace yourself), VW Jetta wagons.

      Selling a comfortable margin more than 100,000 units a year, fleet or not, I don’t expect the Soul to be leaving U.S. Kia dealerships anytime soon, friend.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Last time I went to rent a car the isle I could choose from at what my company would pay for had 4 or 5 200’s and a Hamster car. It was a tough choice but I went for one of the 200’s.

      However I see a lot of them that aren’t rental cars but yeah they are not driven by young hipsters but older people just like the Xbox which was supposed to be bought by 20 somethings as well.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        Shoulda given the hamster a go, at least it would have been funny. I got stuck with a 200 for a week and boy howdy tell you what, is that thing a dog turd marinaded in cat piss. I know there are many that would say that there are no bad cars anymore, but I don’t think they’ve driven a rental 200 yet. Ugly, slow, cheapo interior, mushy, the only thing it did well was take a beating when I launched it over speed bumps.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Fleets may be buying some of them, but by no means all or even most, I’m sure. The Cube? Maybe.

      Where I live however, every Soul and Cube I see is individually owned and admittedly the Soul vastly outnumbers the Cube. My complaint with them, like many other front-drive vehicles, is that they’re lucky if they have three inches of ground clearance at the rear axle. What I assume is the sway bar hangs so low between the wheels that even a squirrel or a rabbit gets hit where they used to be able to survive running under your car. Now imagine finding something like a piece of scrap metal or somebody’s tow hitch and trying to straddle it…

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Maybe Juke sales were cutting into the Cube market since they are priced roughly the same. As far as the Cross Cab is concerned maybe it was just to weird for it’s own good. Now the only convertible Nissan offers is the 2-seat 370Z. If you want a 4-seat FWD convertible you have the Beetle and Eos unless you go upmarket $10-15k to an Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      This is a salient point, to which I’ll add there’s just enough quirky, weird styling commonality between the cube and the Juke that many cube owners are the same kind of buyer who might consider a Juke. I’d consider a Juke, but for three issues that turn me off of it:

      (1) Real-world transaction prices on Jukes have always been higher because dealers want to stock AWD/automatic Juke SLs and now, Juke NISMOs. The only way a Juke and a cube are really the same in price is if the Juke is a barebones stick-shift model and the cube is a mid-to-upper-level S or SL with a CVT.

      (2) Line of sight from the Juke’s driver seat is horrible compared to the cube. Sight out the back half of the car is downright dangerous. Good thing most of them come with rearview cameras.

      (3) The high load floor makes zero sense. Especially on front-wheel drive Jukes, I wish Nissan would put a deep storage well back there the same way they do for the cube. Then maybe that little cargo area could prove a lot more useful. As it is, the higher load floor and sloping rear roofline conspire to limit its true cargo capacity much more than the cube’s, despite the cube’s bumper-to-back-of-seat distance being shorter.

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