2009 Nissan Cube SL – Four Seasons Update – December 2010

Long-Term 2009 Nissan Cube Update: Winter 2011 ( 4 of 5 ) Miles to date: 0

Months in Fleet: 12
Mileage to Date: 24,515 miles

Our year with the Nissan Cube has come to a close and, despite our initial concerns that it would struggle to compete for the attention of our editors with the larger or sportier vehicles in our Four Seasons test fleet, the diminutive, Caribbean blue box racked up more than 24,000 miles in twelve months. It repeatedly impressed staffers and proved to be somewhat of a Jack-of-all-trades by providing a roomy and stylish interior environment that was both comfortable for people and surprisingly accommodating to cargo, an exterior that was at once utilitarian and funky, and all for an affordable price.

Of course, the Cube was not immune to criticism. It may have won our 2010 Design of the Year award, but it’s no surprise that not everyone who saw it found it attractive and the logbook was littered with comments to that affect. In fact, more than any car in recent memory, the Cube elicited reactions from friends, neighbors, and nearly everyone who laid eyes on it. But some of the same design elements that visually set the Cube apart are also what helped make it so easy to live with on a day-to-day basis. Its compact dimensions and short overhangs make darting in and out of traffic and squeezing into tight parking spots a cinch. The large, upright side windows and wraparound rear window give the driver an excellent view of the road and give even the smallest of passengers a clear view of the outside world, all while making the interior feel larger than it appears. The Cube also proved to be an excellent shopping companion, thanks to its wide-opening doors, a ride-height that makes entry and egress a mere side step, and a convenient sunken rear cargo hold that prevents small objects from rolling around when the car is in motion.

A few people criticized its highway demeanor and most agreed that wind noise was a factor, but what the Cube lacked in performance and straight-line speed it made up for in its uncanny ability to sooth and satisfy even the most power hungry and performance-oriented driver. And while the continuously variable transmission isn’t nearly as involving as a manual, or an automatic with a manual mode, we found it to be smooth and well suited to the Cube’s relaxed character.

From our first experience with the Cube in early 2009, driving in and around Yokohama, Japan, we knew this nerdy little box car was something special but weren’t sure if its anime look and small footprint would work on this side of the Pacific. But over the course of our year with the Cube, we found it be as cozy, user-friendly, and functional as it is funky-looking.

2009 Nissan Cube SL

Base price (with dest.): $17,510
As Tested: $19,490

Body style: 5-door hatchback
Accomodation: 5 passenger
Construction: Unibody construction, bolt-on front fenders

Engine: 16-valve DOHC in-line 4-cylinder
Displacement: 1.8 liters (xx cu in)
Power: 122 hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 127 lb-ft @ 4800
Transmission type : CVT
Drive: Front-wheel
EPA Fuel Economy: 28/30/29 (city/hwy/combined)

Steering: Vehicle speed-sensitive electric power-assisted
Lock-to-lock: 3.25
Turning circle: 33.4 ft
Suspension, front: Independent strut with coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rear: Torsion beam with integrated stabilizer bar
Brakes f/r: Front power-assisted vented disc; rear drum brakes; ABS
Wheels: 16.6-inch aluminum alloy
Tires: Toyo A20 all-season
Tire size: 195/55R16

Headroom f/r: 42.6/40.2 in
Legroom f/r: 42.4/35.5 in
Shoulder room f/r: 52.2/52.4 in
Wheelbase: 99.6 in
Track : 58.1/58.3 in
L x W x H: 156.7 x 66.7 x 65.0 in
Cargo capacity: 11.4/58.1 cu ft (rear/with seats folded)
Weight: 2849 lb
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gal
Est. fuel range: 383 miles
Fuel grade: 87 octane

1.8L 4-cylinder engine
Xtronic CVT transmission
Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC)
Traction control system (TCS)
Electronic brake force distribution (EBD)
4-wheel Antilock Braking (ABS)
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
AM/FM/CD audio system with 6-speakers
MP3 CD-ROM playback capability
Auxiliary jack
Speed sensitive volume
Keyless entry with integrated key
Power windows, locks
Cruise control with steering wheel controls

SL Preferred package, $1600
Interior Designer package, $230
Splash guards, $150
XM Satellite radio
Bluetooth hands-free system

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