Reporting Vinnie Richichi
Some people want to drive cars that fit in…don’t draw much attention…look a lot like all the other cars out there. Automobile as appliance as opposed to statement. If that’s is how you view that machine in your driveway then the Nissan Juke is NOT, I repeat NOT, the car you should be looking at if you are in the market for a small crossover/SUV.
The Juke may have more personality per pound than just about anything in its class. Its buggy eyed headlights, eyebrow flavored directional signal/parking lamps, slanted roofline, distinct wheel wells and taillight treatment find the line between function and art and straddle it quite nicely.
People are going to look at you when you drive the Juke. I was waiting for a traffic light and some 30 something biker gal gave me the thumbs up! Made my day! Some of those looks are going to be looks of love…some will wonder why you would drive such a quirky looking car.
Once you get past its uniquely sculpted 162 inch body and through its fairly roomy doors, landing in the front seat you immediately notice that you are sitting up…almost truck like although the seats are much more comfortable car than truck. Interesting carries over to the interior with color keyed plastic shrouds around the shift handle, center console and door panels. Gauges are round and simple and the center stack has a small but ample nav screen although the system takes a bit of getting used to. No center compartment in the Juke…just cup holders between the seats and in this car I’m thinking I need lots of stash room. There is a fairly large storage compartment under the rear floor on front wheel drive models . The split rear seat was actually comfortable and supportive and with the front seat up a bit had decent leg room.
Driving the Juke is where the fun really gets going. Nissan set the Juke up so it would be zippy, torquey, quick, maneuverable and fun to drive and they scored high in all of those departments. The Turbocharged 4 cylinder 1.6 litre engine cranks out 188 horses and 177 lb/ft of torque meaning whether you have the CVT transmission or the stick shift it jumps when you hit the gas pedal. The steering is dialed up just right for urban scooting through traffic yet still gives you a good road feel on the highway. Nissan has a three mode system Normal-Sport and Eco that controls steering and engine response for different conditions.
Maybe the one drawback is that the Juke can be a bit noisy at high revs. There will be no question that there is a working motor in your Juke when you get into the gas pedal a bit. Luckily the Juke comes with six speakers and a Rockford-Fosgate sub-woofer if you need to shut out some of the engine hum.
The SV version I drove had a sticker price of $24,965 about as loaded as it comes, lower end front wheel drive models can start around $19,000.There is a pretty long list of standard features on base S models but look into the SL models as well. Mileage runs 25 city 30 highway, a little low on the spectrum for this size car. You have a little more fun, you give up a few gallons. The Juke gets a Four Star overall safety rating from the Federal Government.
Are you looking for a small crossover that is going to be fun to drive, have some guts, start a conversation or two at the ice cream stand and give you about as much personality as there is in the class? Then look into Nissan’s Juke. Besides being solid, good urban transportation it also will keep you occupied for hours looking for a line a curve or a quirk that you didn’t notice before.
I promise you the Juke will never get boring!
For more information: http://www.nissanusa.com/juke.html
Vinnie Richichi has been driving vehicles of all kinds and covering the automotive scene for over 20 years. His Drivetime-radio vehicle reviews have aired on radio stations across the US as well as his website www.drivetime-radio.com. You can hear Vinnie weekdays on The Vinnie and Cook Show on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.