All photos by Nissan
If you're looking for a new car that will get you noticed but you don't want to break the bank, you ought to test drive the new Nissan JUKE. Nissan's bold new entry in the sport crossover market has head-turning styling and an engine with a nice kick. The car immediately grabs your attention with a front end that turns conventional styling on its head. The turn signals are integrated into the front fenders in a spot where you might expect to find the headlights, but with a closer look you'll see the round headlights below the turn signals. It won't appeal to everyone, but we suspect it will be a big hit with a large number of guys in their 20s.
If you do decide to take a test drive, you'll find out quickly that the JUKE is fun to drive. The JUKE sports a standard 188-horsepower 1.6-liter Direct Injection Gasoline turbo 4-cylinder engine, and it offers an advanced torque vectoring all-wheel drive (AWD) system as an optional upgrade over the front-wheel drive version. We were very impressed with the performance as we drove a JUKE with the AWD option around the beautiful scenery surrounding Vancouver. The handling on the JUKE is excellent with the AWD system and you'll enjoy zipping around tight turns.
We were most impressed with a feature that lets drivers choose between three driving modes – Normal, Sports and Eco. Nissan calls it the Integrated Control (I-CON) system drive mode selector, and the three settings offer three different throttle, transmission (CVT only) and steering response settings. The Normal setting is for everyday driving, Sport for a more intense performance feel, and Eco for maximum efficiency. We particularly enjoyed the Sport setting, as the performance was amped up considerably, and suspect many drivers will use this setting as often as possible. We drove it through urban areas and along winding country roads, and the JUKE performed nicely in the Sport mode in all of these environments. But the performance in the Eco setting wasn't bad, so drivers can feel comfortable using it in traffic or on leisurely drives where quicker acceleration isn't needed. It's also a great option for anyone who wants to save on gas and live a greener lifestyle.
The appeal of the three driver modes is enhanced by the easy user interface that highlights a comfortable interior. I-CON serves as a central command center and display module on the central dashboard, adopting different display colors and functions depending on how it is being used. In Climate mode, the display shows the interior temperature settings while the "buttons" display air flow preferences. In "D-Mode," the buttons change to the three driving modes and the display shows engine- and drive-related dials and information. The system is very easy to use and very intuitive, adding to the overall feeling making the JUKE fun to drive.
The interior is spacious and there's plenty of storage space in the back, given the size of the vehicle. There isn't a ton of room in the back seats, but we're not dealing with a full-size crossover. Overall, the interior lives up to the fun and sporty image evoked by the exterior, and the easy-to-use controls add to the overall experience. We spent a full day driving the JUKE, and the overall comfort level was comparable to what you would expect from a larger vehicle.
The crossover market is exploding, and the JUKE pushes the envelope in what can be referred to as a "sport crossover" segment or a "compact crossover" segment. It's smaller and sportier than what you would expect from a crossover, but it also has more room than what you would expect from a compact vehicle. The JUKE is built on Nissan's global B-platform, offering a compact look with a wider stance. It has a robust lower body along with a raised ground height with the 17-inch wheels. The result is something truly unique, as it combines features you would expect from an SUV, the new crossovers and a sporty compact car. Nissan expects the vehicle to appeal to urban drivers with what can be fairly described as a unique vehicle.
If you're intrigued with the JUKE, we suggest taking the time to see it in person and then taking it for a drive. New models will be arriving in dealer showrooms this month. The styling jumps out at you, and you'll know right away whether the look of the JUKE appeals to you. The bold styling of the JUKE was inspired by motorcycles and rally cars, and that comes across in both the interior and exterior of the vehicle. Sitting inside the JUKE, you'll see how the center console evokes a gas tank from a motorcycle. We love the overall styling of the exterior, particularly the back end styling, and you can judge for yourself what you think of the front end design when you see it in person. Take it for a drive and make sure to try the three different driving modes, and we suspect it will make it on your short list as you make a final decision.
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