New Car Reviews

2009 Nissan Cube SL – Four Seasons Introduction – January 2010

Long-Term 2010 Nissan Cube Update: Winter 2010 Miles to date: 0

If you are a regular reader of Automobile Magazine, you know that we start each year by selecting our “of the Year” award winners. More than any other award, our Design of the Year causes confusion and provokes controversy. By choosing the Nissan Cube as our 2010 Design of the Year, this time around was no exception. The Cube is certainly no beauty queen – our own design editor Robert Cumberford called it “funny-looking” – but it has an undeniable presence and loads of charisma, and that character continues inside. The cabin is more roomy than its 156.7-inch overall length implies and the simple yet stylized interior is at once peaceful and functional.

The Cube can be had in four trims, all of which use a version of the Versa’s 1.8-liter four mated to either a six-speed manual or Nissan’s Xtronic CVT. Because the base and S model Cube offer limited customization options, we stepped up to the $16,790 SL. The CVT is the SL’s sole transmission and, though we usually prefer to shift for ourselves, we think this transmission is particularly suited to the Cube’s relaxed, “mobile device” mission. Although even the base Cube comes with a fairly generous helping of standard equipment, we checked the box for the Preferred Package, thereby adding such electronic goodies as push button ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio controls, an upgraded audio system with 4.3-inch display, and Bluetooth. To complete the interior, we couldn’t resist adding the retro-cool shag dash patch and the innovative door-mounted bungies, bringing the total price to under $20,000.

Will the Nissan Cube’s funky, appliance-on-wheels look and feng shui interior be enough to keep our speed and handling obsessed staff satisfied? Or will it serve to be the perfect antidote to hard-core sports cars like our other Four Seasons Nissan, the GT-R? We’ll be sure to let you know.

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
Weight dist. f/r: xx/xx%
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