Just as cool and funky as it can be!! Nissan's nutty design team really comes into its own with the Juke. Outside, it looks the automotive equivalent of Dora the Explorer with its chunky body, bulging eyes, and sharp detail creases. The view from inside is dominated at night by the odd yellow marker light slivers atop the front lights jutting from the fenders. Kind of cool actually. Also, the cowl is extremely low. Honda Civic broke that ground in the early '80s and it remains a very compelling feature.
Look again at the base price and then the unbelievable list of included features-very nice leather seats, funky touchscreen nav system, iPod interface, heated seats, moonroof, on and on-and then look at how beautiful everything comes together inside. Clearly these designers are firing on all cylinders.
As is the turbocharged four, which is mated to a perfectly geared six-speed manual. Love the crisp stick. And I wouldn't bother with the CVT considering the manual's decent 24 city/31 EPA rating. Traction control was a boon on my wintery country road, and cruising at 80 mph on the freeway feels natural.
Only the heater let me down. It took about twenty minutes to warm the cabin, which any entry-level U.S. car could have managed in about five.
Can I mention those heated seats again?
- Jean Jennings, Editor In Chief
I thought the Juke was a joke when Nissan first released information and pictures of the frog-eyed compact. Surely, no one would ever be caught dead driving this thing, much less the style-conscious young male enthusiast the Juke was supposedly targeting. In fact, the joke is on me, because I, a young male enthusiast, would certainly consider buying the Juke. For one, that goofy styling really works in person. It's as if Nissan designers put the whimsical charm of the Cube in a petri dish and spliced in a Y-chromosome from the GT-R. Same thing on the inside, where cool LCD readouts say "sporty" but have the same overall effect as the Cube's shag carpets and lounge chairs.
As Phil suggests, the perfect Juke would be one that offers torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive with a six-speed manual. I also spent most of my commute searching for traction, although to be fair, I was hardly going easy on the throttle. I'd also expect much better performance when slush and ice aren't clogging up the car's all-season tires.
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor