The Cube Krom’s over-the-top body-cladding and extra bling is not my style — I do really like the checkerboard seat fabric though — but the moment I opened the door and slid into the driver’s seat I remembered what made our Four Seasons Cube so easy to live with. The wide opening doors, cushy seats, low step-in height, and compact footprint make the Cube easy to drive and an absolutely perfect urban vehicle.
This Krom model has the optional navigation system. It’s a nice available feature on this reasonably priced vehicle — unfortunately, it’s not executed very well. It’s likely that in order to make the nav system an affordable option, the display had to be fairly small but the combination of small size, poor backlighting (at least during the day), and bad positioning make the system very difficult to read and use in the Cube. It would really help if it were angled toward the driver so screen glare wouldn’t be such a problem.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
This is a dead box walking. Two days after stepping out of this Cube Krom test car came the official word from Nissan: after 2011, the Krom form of its rolling box is being discontinued.
I shed not a single tear.
I’ve long loved the Cube’s funky form, but the cosmetic tweaks in the Krom package have never bowled me over. The silver checkerboard seat fabric does dress up an otherwise dark interior, but the awkward upper grille insert, along with the matching, disproportionate lower grille (which, by the way, also prevents the addition of fog lamps from the factory) always struck me as odd afterthoughts to an otherwise smart design.
Fret not. Apart from those touches, and the turbine-styled sixteen-inch aluminum wheels, there’s little the Krom offers that can’t be found elsewhere in the Cube lineup. In fact, the model is essentially identical to a Cube 1.8 SL, and if you play the option boxes right, it’s entirely possible to build one that’s almost identical to this test car — minus, of course, those weird grilles.
Regardless of how one chooses to decorate a Cube, each drives almost identically — which is to say quite delightfully, thank you, at least when you stick to the city. While the box-on-wheels requires steady correction at interstate speeds, about town, it’s absolutely perfect: small enough to steal tight parking spots, agile enough to weave through traffic, and comfortable enough to emerge from bumper-to-bumper traffic at the end of the day without a hint of road rage.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
I’m still undecided on whether the Nissan Cube is so quirky that it is ugly, or so quirky that it is cool. Either way, it’s a remarkably useful vehicle for moving into a new apartment. The Cube has a smaller footprint than the Mazda MX-5 roadster, yet its five-foot five-inch height means you can fit lots of stuff inside. The rear seats fold, so there’s enough space in the Cube to pack in two plastic patio chairs, a leather office chair, a boxed-up stereo, a bedside table, an assortment of clothing, plus a bag of miscellaneous books and trinkets.
For stowing smaller items, look to the six cupholders, five bottle holders, six tie-down hooks (on all but the base model), optional bungee cords to strap granola bars or maps to the door panels, and an array of hooks meant for hanging bags or purses. It may be small, but the Cube can hold lots of stuff.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
I think I’m man enough to admit I actually kind of in some ways with modifications might like the Cube. When we had our Four-Seasons Cube, I felt that some aftermarket accessories would make it more appealing. Now Nissan brings us the Cube Krom. OK, this is not exactly what I had in mind. From the exterior, it looks as though we found the deal of all deals in the Wal-Mart automotive clearance section. The only part that seems to really work is the roof-mounted rear spoiler. In my artistic opinion, I think their chrome additions might have looked better on a white or grey colored car more so than this Smurf blue.
As to the interior, I’m singing a different tune, as Nissan nailed this part. The carbon fiber-look trim pieces and the grey-on-grey weaved pattern on the seats were great. No doubt they’ll hide stains well. It’s a little gimmicky, but I loved the rotating spectrum of LED accent lights. Given the right exterior color, aftermarket wheels, this interior combo and three friends, the Cube could make for a very fun night of bar/club hopping. I readily admit that the Cube is NOT a highway car; this is definitely an urban car. It’s so easy to park–even more so with the addition of the rearview camera.
Kelly Murphy, Creative Director
Over the weekend, I went to visit a friend who owns a Ford F-150 and a Porsche Boxster. He took one look at the Nissan Cube Krom I parked in his driveway and started to laugh at the “cartoon car” I was driving. I didn’t even try to argue with him, because the Cube (especially in Krom trim) really does look like a car that Roger Rabbit might drive. This Cube has the same strengths and shortcomings as our recently departed Four Seasons test car. It has a compact footprint but a roomy interior, so it’s a great car for city driving. The side-opening hatch door provides access to a fairly sizeable cargo hold. However, the Cube’s continuously variable transmission saps any fun you might have pushing the 122-hp four-cylinder engine. There’s a loud drone as the car accelerates, and while the noise dissipates once you’re up to speed, wind noise on the highway is quite noticeable — not particularly surprising when you’re driving a vehicle that’s shaped like a, well, a cube.
One option I’m actually quite fond of is the nerdy shag-carpet piece that sits on the front dashboard. It’s the perfect place to set my pass for the parking garage, because it keeps it from sliding around. On the minus side, the large expanses of upright glass cause lots of reflections that can be distracting.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
We recently completed a Four Seasons test of a Nissan Cube SL, and my overall impressions of that vehicle were quite positive. My primary conclusion was that it would be an excellent second car for my family of four: affordable, economical, fairly spacious, versatile, and comfortable. My preferred Cube would have a stick shift, though, not only to enhance the fun but also to make it more capable of passing slow traffic in short passing zones on back roads. In this CVT-equipped test car, I had to be patient and just follow the slowpokes. This Krom edition Cube adds some features that I could do definitely without, such as the slatted grille, shiny (but tiny) wheels, navigation system, and interior mood lighting. The backup camera is a nice addition, but it is very poorly integrated onto the tailgate and looks tacked on.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2011 Nissan Cube 1.8S KROM
Base price (with destination): $21,970
Price as tested: $22,200
● 1.8L DOHC 4-cylinder
● CVT transmission
● Front-wheel drive
● ABS with vehicle dynamic control and traction control
● Power assisted front vented disc, rear drum brakes
● Tire pressure monitoring system
● Sliding/reclining rear bench with 60/40 split
● Leather-wrapped steering wheel
● Cruise control
● Steering wheel-mounted audio/cruise controls
● Trip computer
● Power windows/locks/mirrors
● Audio system with MP3 playback
Options on this vehicle:
● KROM Edition Package
o Krom-Exclusive Integrated Body Design
■ Front bumper fascia
■ Front bumper grille
■ Radiator grille
■ Bodyside sills
■ Rear bumper fascia
■ Rear roof spoiler
o 16-inch alloy wheels
o Krom black/gray seat fabric
o Aluminum-trimmed pedals
o 20-color interior lighting
o Titanium-tone A/C, shifter, and gear level bezels
o Intelligent Key with push-button ignition
o Navigation system with XM NavTraffic and backup camera
o Rockford Fosgate audio system with 6 speakers
o XM satellite radio
o Automatic climate control/headlights
o Rear floor vents
● Interior design package — $230
o Carpeted floor and cargo area mats
o Shag dash topper
o Front door bungees
Key options not on vehicle:
27 / 31 / 28 mpg
Horsepower: 122 hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 127 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Curb weight: 2829 lb
Wheels/tires: 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
P195/55R16 all-season tires