After 365 days, our Four Seasons Nissan Juke has left the Automobile Magazine fleet. In its wake, a couple of staff members shed a tear or two while a couple others exchanged high-fives, but there was no denying that our year-long test was a success: We put 22,659 miles on the little car, not bad for an urban runabout. We didn't take the sprightly Nissan on very many long trips, which had a lot to do with its back seats -- which aren't the most spacious or comfortable for extended periods -- not to mention the car's lack of a center armrest and its short fuel range. (It also didn't help that we had road-trip kings such as a Honda Odyssey, an Infiniti QX56, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and a Volvo S60 in our Four Seasons fleet at the same time.)
Recalls didn't keep the Juke off the road for any extended periods, but a surprising number of them -- three -- required some extra visits to our local dealer's service department. One recall directed mechanic/technicians to check the engine air-inlet tube (our car wasn't affected), another specified that special water seals be fitted at the front doors to prevent icing issues, and the last addressed a possibly leaky fuel-rail pressure sensor and resulted in the replacement of the sensor as well as adapter and manifold gaskets.
Still, the Juke was easy to own, particularly because it was so affordable and held up to the use of multiple drivers pretty well (although it developed a creak in the center tunnel, and some of the manual gearbox's synchros seemed prematurely worn by the end of the test). The as-tested price of $21,815 was easy to swallow for such a distinctive, sporty, and comfortably equipped car. Our 26-mpg overall average was good, too, although we'd hoped that the overall fuel consumption of this small, sub-3000-pound hatchback would be closer to 30 mpg. Our observed mileage missed the EPA's combined rating for the car by just 1 mpg (city/highway ratings are 24/31 mpg), which is reasonable considering that the Nissan didn't spend all that much time on the highway. Nor did the energetic turbocharged engine encourage us to hyper-mile.
Indeed, many drivers found the Juke fun to drive. During the Nissan's final week in our fleet, deputy editor Joe DeMatio reported: "I got into the Juke directly off a weekend in a Porsche 911 Turbo S cabriolet, and I didn't feel slighted at all in the fun-to-drive department." Senior web editor Phil Floraday agreed: "I haven't had this much fun behind the wheel of a new car in a while."
Some staff members, though, thought the steering, although accurate, was too light and uncommunicative and undermined the car's enjoyment factor. Assistant editor David Zenlea expounded on that: "There's a very fine line between 'fun' and 'sloppy' handling. Slightly better body control would do wonders. So would better steering." The 188-hp, front-wheel-drive car's torque steer annoyed many drivers, too. (All-wheel drive is available on the Juke.)
Even after twelve months, we continued to talk about the car's polarizing styling, but the Juke's strong sales numbers clearly indicate that there are tens of thousands of people out there who like it. Are you one of them? Either way, be sure to read our in-depth wrap-up story about the Juke in an upcoming issue of Automobile Magazine, on the iPad, or at automobilemag.com.