Nissan Juke test drive.

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Well. It is controversial to say the least.

When I saw the concept car, I was pretty stunned that Nissan actually chose to turn it inot a production car.
Sure, a small powerful SUV type car could be cool.
But the concept looked rather.. shocking.

And when I saw the first pictures of the real thing I pretty much hated it.
Then.. It kind of grew on me.

After driving one for a week. It really grew on me. Most of my friends still hate the front end.
But I think overall, the car has a “cute bulldog” personality to it.
And I actually do like it.

Although I still understand people who don’t.

So there you go. I guess it’s just one of these cars that “isn’t for everyone”.
Which is actually a good thing….

I think the interior does look great.
My test car had a black cloth, but my choice would be the grey/black leather combo.

Everything is solid and very well put together. And it looks modern and original.
One cool trick, that I have never seen before, is that some of the controls on the console are shared between Climate and Stereo. The same switch can have 2 different functions.

The stereo on my test unit was a 6 speaker upgrade that came as part of the $800 navigation package.
A great deal . And it sounded really good, with flawless touch screen control for the iPod.
Except the iPod will be exposed so you have to take it with you, or hide it somewhere when you leave the car.

And there is no locking storage available. The console is full of holes, but nothing can ever be covered. So you really can’t leave anything behind. Except for what you can fit into the glove compartment.

The back seat is pretty roomy.
And the trunk space is really good.
And great when you fold the back seat.


The ride is firm. As expected from a sporty little car.
But it is always smooth enough and comfortable.

And the ride is quiet around town and on the freeway.


The steering has a good natural feel. But it feels a little light for a sporty model.
I guess this would be my complain with most cars these days. Steerings are getting lighter and lighter…


The engine is one of the most interesting part of the package.
Nissan chose to use a small 1.6 Liter unit with a turbo to produce 188hp.
Which sounds like a good idea. After all it is more power than the larger 2.5 Liter in the Altima with its 175hp.
But there is a catch. Actually a few catches.

First, there is almost no power before you reach about 2500RPM. Which means you pretty much have to floor it when you start.
Then the Turbo kicks in..

Even though Nissan claims the Turbo provides the full 177 ft-lbs or torque at 2000 RPM, there seem to be almost no power before 2500RPM.
Then it provides that old fashion Turbo kick.
Which might be more manageable with the available manual, but my test car had the CVT.
Which is fine. But it doesn’t seem to fit with the Turbo engine at all.

Second, the Juke is rated at 27 MPG city and 32 HWY.
I was never able to get 27 in the City, no mater how slow I was driving. The best I got was 24.
But I did get a bit over 32 on the HWY.

I am actually not sure of the advantage of this little Turbo engine over the larger 2.5 Liter unit.


The Juke was a pleasure to drive. I had fun every time I was behind the wheel.
Even though things could be even more fun with a better and smoother power delivery from the turbo.
Which I think could be at least partially solved by choosing the manual transmission.

The interior is a fun a pleasant place to be, and I did get used to the design.

Pricing is a bit strange, as my SV test version’s sticker was almost $23 000. Including the navigation package.
But a loaded SL model is less than $500 more and includes leather heated seats and more.

I would really recommend the Juke, for those who can get past the stupid name. And don’t mind the design.
But I would also advise anyone to test the manual as well as the CVT.

Conversation 18 comments

  1. interesting review, Vince, especially considering almost every other review I've read has been largely opposite of yours.

  2. I'd expect such a monstrosity from Honda or Toyota but never from NISSAN. Overwhelmingly Horrendius. Interior is simple-cheap (crass/tacky). Lousy MPG (typical CUV); but useless off road or in HEAVY snow. Too small for utility. Jouncy annoying ride. Just the worst of everything at every level (not that CRV or RAV4 are any better). I guess I just don't get the whole idea of such a vehicle. And it's ugly to boot! Any mid-size sedan has better mileage, better handeling, just as bad off road and as much (usually more) room for people & luggage.

    What's the point???

  3. Vince, doesn't this thing require premium fuel? I've read the ride is punishing and noise level high.

  4. Premium fuel is NOT required, but recommended.
    Here is a quote from the manual:

    "If unleaded premium gasoline is not available, you may use unleaded regular gasoline with an octane rating of at least 87 AKI number (Research octane number 91), but you may notice a decrease in performance."

    Just like other cars where premium is recommended.

    The ride was never punishing and noise level was low.
    That is my experience after driving it for a whole week, every day and everywhere I went.

  5. I've seen a couple on the road, and they don't look so bad in person. Pricing seems high. Wasn't it supposed to be the cheaper than the Rogue?

  6. I'm sure some of your more negative commenters have never driven the Juke, let alone taken a good look at it.
    Your review was quite accurate, but you made a major mistake. The dual controls on the console are for Driving Mode (Economy, Normal, Sport) and Climate Control, NOT the stereo!~

    I'm the guy who owns a Juke and a GT-R, somewhat to the dismay of some of your
    duller posters on here.

    Let's see if I get challenged again by one of those dorks.

  7. Vehicles like this exist because out lame US buying public does not embrace hatchbacks…so lets disguise it into an SUV…(hence CUV) and here you go!! Generally, The US consumers are idiots when it comes to vehicles. This is a greatlittle vehicle, but imagine what it could have really been….same goes for any other CUV out there.

  8. TONY:…i like the basic concept of this car..just dislike the front end and the use of the cvt trans. Iprefer the nissan rogue..but again..i dislike the cvt offered in that vehicle. If nissan were to finally drop the cvt and drop in a 6 speed manual and /or the the 4cly engine from the nissan sentra spec (whatever the 200HP motor is..) and also offer a leather tan seats to compliment the way too dark interior..i would buy the rogue. Perfect for my needs in size and utility. Good review Vince!

  9. The audio/climate controlled were also shared on the Isuzu Axiom, but I don't blame anyone for saying they saw it first on the Juke, especially since they were extremely confusing on the Axiom.

  10. Why people want these stupid little turbo charged crap mobiles…People who dont study physics will never understand how stupid a turbo charger is on an automobile. Diesel trucks benefit because they are constant speed on highway but turbos actually suck your gas in city driving…study physics to learn why this is so. The turbo Chevy Cruze gas mileage sucks in real life driving as well.

  11. I love the idea of a smaller sporty CUV… or even a tall wagon with AWD and sporting intentions. Not in love with the CVT or having a turbo and I think it will keep others from buying it as well (not the styling). Hopefully Nissan will recognize this and try another engine-transmission combo. And btw – this American idiot drives a 3dr hatch. The Juke is at least different from the look alikes that are all over the road And thats a good thing.

  12. This thing is hideous, and $23,000 for what is essentially a B-Segment vehicle? Nissan is out of their mind.

    Vince, I've driven one and I completely agree with your turbo lag complaint. It was actually the same with the manual which was disappointing. I also have NO idea what you are talking about with the back seat being roomy. With two adults in the front 5'10" and over, there was about 7 inches of room behind the seat with me driving and I am 6' even.

    Let's just hope it is more reliable than the piece of garbage Versa which has turned out to be a nightmare for most owners.

  13. Aside from the aggressive front, which is just one large piece of molded plastic, this is not a very interesting looking car. Just like the Honda Element, which is another plastic fantastic fake Tonka tough car-based CUV, this thing is a poseur. Anyone foolish enough to buy this jacked-up overpriced Sentra deserves what they get.

  14. Nissan Juke starts at US$19,000
    New Kia Sportage starts at US$18,200… mmhhh I think we'll see more of the Kia…

  15. To: March 28, 2011 7:41 PM

    It isn't even a Sentra, guy. This is based off of the Versa which is a class smaller, but they are charging Altima money.

    This is a ripoff.

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