New Car Reviews

2009 Nissan Cube SL – Four Seasons Update – July 2010

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

As we wrap up seven months with the Nissan Cube, we are still impressed with the Cube’s interior space and its ability to carry people of all sizes in comfort. Associate editor Eric Tingwall, our resident giant at well over six feet tall, spent some time in the Cube’s rear quarters and came away surprisingly uncramped. “Headroom is cavernous and with the sliding rear bench in their rearward-most position, legroom was adequate.” He was particularly impressed with the fact that the rear seats can be moved forward and aft and recline, saying “these features seem like something previously found on much more expensive vehicles.”

Tingwall was also impressed by the couch-like comfort of the rear bench calling it “plush,” a word also used by senior editor Joe Lorio to describe the Cube’s cabin as a whole: “The interior plushness of the Cube is fitting given that it was born of that very Japanese idea of the car as a living room on wheels. There is no other small vehicle with front seats this soft and wide.” Lorio went on to note that the home-market Cube has an available front bench seat, adding, “now that would have really been something!”

The adjustable rear seat may be enough to allow even the largest humans to get comfortable but when it comes to carrying cargo the seats lack the versatility to make the most of the Cube’s boxy shape. Despite the seats’ inability to do a Honda Fit-style tuck-and-fold, Automobile Magazine East Coast editor Jamie Kitman eyed the Cube as a potential courier for a recent large purchase.

In his never-ending quest to acquire more car stuff, Kitman managed to locate a hardtop in the midwest for his 1960s MGB roadster. Perhaps it could be delivered via Cube to New York. The top was measured, as was the Cube’s cargo area, but it was still too close to say whether the 15-inch high by 51-inch wide top would fit. A real-world attempt was made, but the hatch’s slightly rounded corners were just enough to prevent the hardtop from fitting. (For now, the MG’s hardtop remains at our Ann Arbor office, where it is a fine conversation piece, but is not terribly useful.) Blackwell’s post-game analysis? “The Cube can hold a lot, but it has its limits.”

Indeed, Rusty. But in so many ways, the Cube has already pushed the limits of what we expected from the stylish little Nissan. Meanwhile, if anyone out there is heading from Michign to the New York area in a vehicle just slightly bigger than a Cube, and is interested in ferrying one MGB hardtop, please contact the magazine.

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

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