I was constantly surprised to get out of this car and look back at its tiny dimensions. From the inside, the Cube feels huge. The seats keep you sitting upright, with your knees almost at a 90-degree angle. The huge front windshield and excessive headroom work with the minivan seating position to make you feel like you're driving something much larger. But when you go to get out, there's no step down.

The 122-hp, 1.8-liter engine is sufficient around town. As Jean mentioned, this is a car that's about relaxing. Don't bother revving the engine to 6500 rpm in search of a performance-minded alter ego. You won't find anything. Just loaf along with traffic and you'll learn to love the Cube for its personality. Still, I was pretty disappointed by the steering. Turning the wheel has the tactile feedback of an original Nintendo controller. At the very least, Nissan needs to add some weight to the steering effort.

Our 1.8S is definitely a good value, making it a great car for young drivers. For $15,410, you get everything that you need and nothing else. Keyless entry, power windows/locks/mirrors, CD player and aux input, and air-conditioning. Mom and dad will appreciate that there's not enough power to get into too much trouble, plus ABS and six air bags are standard. All Cubes also come with stability control, which is rarely standard in this class. I'm also impressed that Nissan will allow you to choose the CVT for your 1.8S at no cost.

With something as quirky as the Cube, I did feel like our 1.8S was missing some interior novelties. The wave-ripple headliner is a good start, but it's not something you regularly look at or touch. Fortunately, Nissan offers a number of options to liven the Cube's cabin. The 20-color interior illumination package and interior designer package that adds a patch of shag carpeting to the dash would be high on my list. Frivolous? Maybe. But also fun, and that's what the Cube is all about.

Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor

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