With its asymmetrical styling, side-opening back door, and water-droplet-inspired interior, the Nissan Cube certainly pegs the geek-chic meter. The divisive styling conceals a tall hatchback that is remarkably practical and comfortable. Small wheels located at the far corners of the car preserve plenty of interior space–but at the expense of making the Cube look rather toylike. A well behind the rear seats provides plenty of cargo space, and the seats fold forward (but not flat into the floor) for carrying larger items. The car’s low step-in height; large doors; expansive windows; and wide, plush seats make it pleasant to ride in. The driving experience is somewhat less enjoyable, with tepid acceleration from the 122-hp in-line four-cylinder engine, numb steering, and plenty of wind noise. The Cube can be equipped with either a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission, both of which return good fuel economy. Ripple-effect plastics and a shag-carpet dashboard mat make for an intriguing interior. It was designed as a “casual lounge” and has enough head- and legroom to please even the tallest occupants. Gadgets like push-button start, navigation, Bluetooth, and a backup camera are available on higher trim levels. For those who want to add their own designer touches, Nissan offers a long list of accessories for the Cube, ranging from new wheels and spoilers to chrome trim pieces.

Drive: Front-wheel

Trim levels: Cube 1.8, 1.8 S, 1.8 SL

Body style: Wagon, 5-passenger

Engine: 1.8L I-4, 122 hp, 127 lb-ft

Transmissions: 6-speed manual, continuously variable

Passenger volume: 97.7 cu ft

Cargo space: (rear seats up/down) 11.4/58.1 cu ft

Nissan’s Intelligent Key push-button start becomes standard on the Cube SL trim, and the S and SL models get a standard front-passenger-seat armrest. There are five new exterior paint colors. A new option package for the 1.8S with CVT bundles a backup camera, navigation, an upgraded Rockford Fosgate sound system, Intelligent Key, and fifteen-inch aluminum wheels.

Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are stability control, traction control, ABS with brake assist, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

All: 25-27 mpg city/30-31 mpg highway

  • Unique styling
  • Spacious, comfortable interior
  • Bargain priced
  • Unique styling
  • Numb power steering
  • Tepid acceleration

A funky and practical tall hatchback.

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