Wow, the Juke is a riot. The looks are polarizing, but I got a kick out of the turn signal illuminating the top of the headlight enclosure each time I changed lanes or turned. I especially like the compact footprint of the Juke. I pulled into my garage and easily had enough room left over to keep a motorcycle, lawnmower, snowblower, or some other tool/toy in front of the Juke with lots of room left over for the door to close. As every model on sale grows a little bigger, heavier, and more vanilla, it's refreshing to see Nissan offer a small, funky vehicle that virtually everyone can afford.
The 1.6-liter, turbo and direct injection four-banger is a spectacular engine. Perhaps it isn't the most refined engine to come to market lately, but the main attraction is impressive power delivery at such a low price point. There's so much power on tap (188 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque) that I'd suggest springing for AWD if you ever want to put the power to the ground. I spun the front wheels much more often that I would have expected during my time behind the wheel on wet and snowy roads. Traction control intervenes, but not very gracefully and the fancy torque-vectoring rear differential on the AWD models seems to be a better solution. Upgrading to AWD means downgrading to a CVT and adding $2000 to the sticker, but that puts the loaded Juke in about the same price range as a stripper GTI.
- Phil Floraday, Senior Web Producer