New Car Reviews

2009 Nissan Cube SL – Four Seasons Update – August 2010

Long-Term 2009 Nissan Cube Update: Summer 2010 Array Miles to date: 0

Months in Fleet: Eight
Mileage to Date: 18,114 miles

The Cube spent the month of August on the east coast in the care of senior editor Joe Lorio and East Coast Bureau Chief Jamie Kitman. Lorio didn’t waste any time enlisting the Cube for kid-hauling duty. “I had three kids, ages ten to twelve, in the back seat for a trip to an aquarium in Connecticut, and they were perfectly happy back there. There was also plenty of room for the two dads up front. With low sills and big doors, getting in and out is dead easy. The cargo hold is not as big as some, or as expandable as the Honda Fit’s, but the Cube, with its wide seats and soft upholstery, is clearly more focused on carrying people than stuff.”

Despite initial concerns about the Cube’s continuously variable transmission, most of the Automobile Magazine editors have come to appreciate its unobtrusive character. Lorio, again: “The CVT makes for pretty relaxed highway cruising, spinning relatively low RPMs at highway speeds. So while there is some wind rush around the upright A-pillars, the engine is fairly quiet on the highway.” When Kitman got his chance behind the wheel of the Cube, he agreed that the CVT works well, saying, “it proves that Nissan is way out in front on this useful technology.” He also added that the Cube’s 122-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder provides plenty of thrust: “more motor is emphatically unnecessary, even on the highway.”

This was Kitman’s first extended exposure to our Caribbean blue Cube and like many people he immediately drew comparisons to Scion’s xB. “It’s hard to think about the Nissan Cube without reference to the Scion xB, which here in America at least, got the whole funky, econo-box thing started. But where Toyota lost the plot with the latest xB-it’s both heavier and bulkier looking-Nissan has picked up the story, right where Toyota should have left off. I’ll take greater efficiency in my urban box, er, Cube unit, every time.”

Kitman was also impressed with the Cube’s functionality and ease of use. “There’s a lot about the Cube that seems willfully weird and yet in daily use it proved to be a reasonable, perfectly useful, and pleasant companion.” In the city, he loved “the size and practicality,” and called parking “a cinch.” He also found the upright driving position “refreshing,” but noted that because the C-pillars are quite wide, a “reversing camera might come in handy.” From a performance perspective, Kitman was critical of the Cube’s “dull steering,” but called handling, braking, and ride “adequate, especially in the bargain category in which the Cube resides.”

After a month with the Nissan Cube, both Lorio and Kitman came away with good impressions. Lorio summed up their feelings with his closing comments: “The Cube is obviously not a car for everybody, but it’s a small car with lots of personality, and real practicality.”

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
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