Behold, the brand new Nissan Juke making its stateside debut this year. And what a debut it is. Designed in Europe with finishing touches from Japan, the Juke is an attention-grabbing mashup of parts, from its reptilian rally car-inspired hood lamps, motorcycle-like center console and a back-end that looks ripped directly from a 370Z . This more compact crossover is Nissan’s effort to snag the young-ish male demographic that has wrinkled its nose at the more popular-with-the-ladies Rogue. The vehicle has already sold well in overseas markets and is somewhat of an experiment for Nissan, filling in somewhere among the Versa , Cube and Rogue . With 180-plus horses under the hood, plenty of nifty optional features and a sticker price in the low-to-mid-$20K range, it’s sure to attract the younger, aesthetically focused 18-to 34-year-old market.
What's to Like
The Juke offers the curvaceous beauty and power of a sports car with the utility of an SUV, but without an unreasonable price tag. Folding 60/40 split rear seats allow for added cargo room and electric steering, six airbags, 17-inch alloy wheels and stability and traction control systems all come standard. The Juke has plenty of options for drivers who want to customize their ride, including push-button ignition, rear-view camera and heated leather seats.
What's Not to Like
More noticeable on the manual transmission than the automatic is an audible whine caused by the continuously variable transmission (CVT), which became irksome when shifting up and down in traffic or on windy roads. The back seat was snug even for a modestly sized person, and the sloping rear-end makes it quite uncomfortable to cart around anyone over six-feet tall. Cargo space with rear seats erect measures noticeably less than the Versa with only 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space versus 35.9 cubic feet when they're folded down.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
The Juke knows how to handle a turn, and both the all-wheel and front-wheel drive versions stick to the asphalt surprisingly well for a vehicle with a higher center of gravity. The torque vectoring system is noticeable and allows for a much more confident ride on winding mountain roads or when heading into curves. The I-CON interface toggles between Normal, Sport and Eco modes; the latter has a definitively more sluggish feel, while the Sport mode is a barely noticeable change from Normal. The ride is comfortable enough, but between the CVT system and 99.6-inch wheelbase, you’re in for a less-than-quiet ride.
Engine and Drivetrain
The Juke offers a sturdy 1.6-liter direct inject turbocharged four-cylinder engine that boasts 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. This feisty little ute comes standard with a conti...