Gotta love this purplish-brown paint! Gotta love the asymmetrical, straight-from-Japan exterior styling! Gotta love this wacked-out interior! And these visors? The biggest I've ever seen in a production car.

The modestly powered four-cylinder engine seems up to the task of propelling this brown box around, although I didn't go on the freeway, where I suspect that wind noise at the side mirrors might bother some people. The six-speed manual has light effort and a pleasing clutch take-up; I enjoyed using it. Body roll is pretty well in check; the Cube definitely does not come across as a tipsy box.

Love the side-hinged (left side) rear door, which means that, when the Cube is parked parallel at the curb, your access to the cargo compartment is from the curb side, not the street side. The lift-over is perhaps a little high, though; it's too bad the cargo floor isn't wider and more flat; it turns out that the bottom edge of the cargo door covers a large load lip. Oh, well. As for the passenger compartment, it's very roomy with, obviously, lots of headroom. Great view of the road from the driver's seat, with an expansive windshield and large door windows. Is it me, though, or does the driver's seat seem to be canted slightly toward the right? Central knob for radio volume is logical and good.

We're scheduled to get a Cube for a one-year, Four Seasons test, and I think we'll really enjoy it.

Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor

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