First Drive: 2011 Nissan Juke

In all-wheel drive mode, though, the Juke is surprisingly good on curvy mountain roads. Body motions are exceptionally well controlled given the car's tall stance, especially body roll, which was nearly imperceptible from the driver's seat. A very supportive seat, at that. Steering feel isn't quite up to, say, Volkswagen levels, but the system is accurate and well weighted. Unfortunately, the tilt wheel doesn't telescope, and it's a long reach away, eliminating any chance of the Juke feeling like a sports car from the driver's seat.

Happily, the brakes didn't complain at all on the way back down the mountain. And with somewhere north of 3000 lb to contend with, that's impressive. Cornering grip is great, though the pre-production mule we drove featured V-rated high-performance all seasons that might be more aggressive than the tires on the production version.

The optional upgraded stereo sounds nice, with a thumping, powered Rockford-Fosgate subwoofer in the trunk. Nissan's navigation system works well, too. Sadly, the Juke's standard USB and auxiliary audio inputs are out in the open on the dash, meaning you'll have to disconnect and hide your iPod every time you park the Juke.

The Juke will be available with an optional i-CON system, which is a driver-selectable chassis tuning system like Audi's Drive Select. It offers three settings that tailor throttle response, steering effort, and CVT behavior. There's an ECO setting for people who want their Juke to feel like someone ripped out the turbocharger; Normal is for boring people; and Sport not only reduces electric power steering assist and firms up the throttle, but instructs the CVT to perform a pretty nifty imitation of a conventional automatic. It still varies the ratios as you drive, but occasionally fakes a "shift" by changing the ratio suddenly. It may seem like a gimmick - and would probably cost the Juke a small amount of time in a drag race - but it goes a long way to mask the moaning that plagues other CVT cars. (Cube, we're talking to you.) Everyone we spoke to preferred the Sport mode.

The coolest feature about i-CON, though, is the interface. Press a key and the automatic climate control labels disappear from buttons on the dash and are replaced with chassis control buttons. It almost looks like each button has a mini LCD panel in it to display different label, and it's one of the most clever ways we've seen to add additional controls to the dashboard without creating clutter or requiring overcomplicated joystick controllers.

kgelner
I just recently tried test driving a MINI Countryman, and the Juke - both automatic transmission (I love manual my but wife needs to be able to drive the car).I just don't understand the conclusion of this article. They may have similar power, but the CVT transmission in the Juke is not nearly as direct when you step on it. And while the Juke corners OK, as the article states the actual steering just doesn't give you any feeling for the road. The Juke also while OK in the back (the seats folding down more was nice) felt more cramped, I think in a crossover like this that you are trading off a more sporty car for things like more space, but with the Juke you aren't getting that much more space in return.I actually like the exterior styling of the Juke quite a bit, and some of the features they have... but for me between the CVT and the handling I just felt like the Countryman was a lot nicer car.
vegasstyleguy
I thought I would HATE this car, but, I just got back from the Nissan dealer and it is really cool. I don't know why, but, it's way better looking in person. The interior is very well put together and, overall, it seems like a great little unique car.
thejukeclub
If you happen to like the car make sure to google thejukeclub. An ever expanding knowledge base on the car, and will eventually become and owners club and forum.
rackstar
OMGoodness!"If you've ever complained about all cars looking alike, here's your big, Nissan-badged can of shutyourmouth."Hahahaha... a can of shutyourmouth.That's pure gold, from the front-lines journalism!
tscurt
I can't seem to help myself: Could we see a picture of the design team?
tscurt
Upon further reflection, the front reminds me of pictures National Geographic shows when they discover previously unknown species of fish living in dark ocean recesses.
tscurt
Is this the same kind of compromise you'd be forced to make with an odd looking "other" who's really good in bed????
cpr74
LOL on the frog comparison. Seems like it would cannibalize Rogue and Cube sales.
btc909
Oh OH it's coming up, I think i'm gonna PUKE!Introducing the 2011 Nissan Aztek.

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