Funky, fresh, and fun sum up the endearing personality of the Nissan Juke, where in their latest compact crossover, Nissan hones in on younger drivers seeking sporty handling, connectivity, and versatility, coupled with a desire to make a non conformist statement.
Check out the sections above for our thoughts on the vehicle.
It is nearly impossible to compare the exterior of the Nissan Juke to those seen on all other vehicles on the road. The designers of the Juke obviously wanted to make the vehicle’s exterior design a hot topic for discussion, with a look that stands out above the crowd. Juke is uniquely muscular and tight, and its passive-aggressive attitude definitely makes a profound statement.
We liked the unique, un-boxy look that distinguishes the Juke from the Nissan Cube; they both target the same audience, but different seats in the theatre. Juke’s design is reminiscent of an animal in its front end, with blinker and marker lights poised on the hood, totally detached from the headlights, bulging out from the hood like a set of horns; its fog lights are integrated into the lower fascia. Juke appears as though it’s moving, even when sitting still; the familiar Nissan family looks discernibly live on.
The side profile of the Juke features a steeply angled roofline that mimics the 370Z, but the tradeoff comes to rear passengers over six feet tall. Their heads will meet the ceiling, but the sacrifice is worth the sporty styling. Juke’s fenders flare out, showcasing its broad shoulders.
Once you drive the Juke, you may find yourself falling for the funky ride. Tight cornering, a firm suspension, great steering response, and strong brakes make this one of the most Fun-to-Drive vehicles we’ve ever driven.
Under the hood, the 2011 Nissan Juke packs a few surprises. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, and thanks to turbocharging and direct injection, cranks out 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque.
Connected to a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT), the four-cylinder turbo makes the Juke one of the quickest small cars around while still being pretty frugal on the petrol. The Juke boasts a sport-tuned suspension, quick steering, and an available torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system that combine to provide entertainment through twisting serpentine roads. The underlying structure is shared with the Nissan Cube and Nissan Versa.
While a CVT is standard on the front-wheel drive S trim level, SV and SL trims come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, and optional CVT. All three trim levels can also be had with AWD, though only with the CVT.
The 2011 Nissan Juke's energetic little four-cylinder feels more like a larger, non-turbocharged engine in that it provides a broad spread of power. The CVT works quite well and makes the most of the engine when quick acceleration is required.
Our SL AWD tester was impressively quick, rocketing from stoplights and never sounding strained. The Juke's EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings (depending on drivetrain) ranges from 24-27 mpg city to 30-32 mpg highway.
Turned loose on winding country roads, the Juke is in its element, carving through corners with agility. The well-weighted steering and buttoned-down suspension provide crisp response and sure tracking through the corners.
Over older, crumbling pavement, the Juke still manages to provide an agreeable balance between handling and ride comfort, though its short wheelbase and light weight can cause a bit of a bouncy feeling. While cruising at higher freeway speeds, road and wind noise are noticeable, though not loud enough to be overly intrusive.
The 2011 Nissan Juke's interior styling is just as wild as the exterior, its rounded forms and a center console inspired by a motorcycle gas tank, with a gleaming retro-reminiscent feel of 1940s Bakelite. Silver accents brighten things up, along with interior components matching the exterior body color.
All of the switchgear has a quality feel, with controls for the HVAC, radio, and I-CON system well laid out and intuitive. The seats are well bolstered to cocoon the driver and passenger during playful driving, and door armrests are nicely padded with a soft mesh fabric when it comes time to cruise down the highway.
Rear seating is also well shaped and high enough to provide ample leg support even for taller passengers. However, once again, anyone six feet or taller will find their head flirting with the headliner thanks to the Juke's sloping design.
With the back seats up, there's about 10 cubic feet of cargo space available, useful primarily for shorter items due to the tapered roof. Folding the 60/40-split seat down expands cargo capacity to 36 cubic feet, impressive for a vehicle with such a small footprint.
Storage space for smaller yet important items like your smartphone, wallet, sunglasses, gloves, and pens is readily available in the Nissan Juke because of its numerous bins, door pockets, and the large glovebox. The rubberized mat in front of the shifter is ideal for your cell, with both a 3.5 mm AUX and USB input jack to its left. You’ll appreciate the easy access, and your phone will enjoy not being dinged, scratched, and scraped from being crammed into the typical cupholder or storage bin “junk-drawer.”
Our SL tester arrived with few options, since the Juke is well-equipped from the get-go. All that was added were splashguards, floor mats, illuminated kick plates (which were awesome), and the Sport Package. The sport package added a rear spoiler, stainless steel exhaust finisher, and upgraded 17” wheels in a gunmetal finish.
Nissan’s Juke is loaded to the gills with the latest connectivity features that we seek in 2012. Standard on the base trim are 17” wheels, cruise, full power accessories, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, iPod integration, and an AUX input.
The SV adds a sunroof, keyless entry with push button start, privacy glass, auto climate control, satellite radio, and the I-CON system. I-CON provides much useful information about the vehicle, and allows the driver to select Normal, Sport, or Eco driving modes, altering the calibration of the throttle action, steering assistance, and CVT response. I-CON even shows the amount of turbo boost and lateral G forces!
The SL trim adds just a few more features like auto headlights, heated leather seats with hot contrast stitching, and a Rockford Fosgate sound system with its subwoofer controlled via a 5” LCD touch-screen. The display features a back-up camera and an SD-card based navigation system with real-time traffic through Sirius XM.
The Juke's standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. The four-wheel disc brakes were strong, feeling linear each time, and bringing the Juke to a stop just as quickly as it rockets off.
Drivers who love driving, take note: this is the vehicle for you if you lust after the 370Z, but find it impractical to own due to your snowy climate and/or pragmatic demands of day-to-day life. The amount of fun and powerful energy this little crossover has bottled up inside is huge, and definitely worth uncorking if you want a daily driver than can be thrown into corners one day and a trek through Great Lakes’ snow squalls the next. In case that’s not enough, with gas prices accelerating at record speed, it’s opportune to consider the Juke’s impressive fuel economy.
-All the tech and media connectivity you'd want
-Stand-out styling inside and out
-Tight back seat
-Nav screen could be larger