2011 Nissan Juke SV AWD

Matt Tierney
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Matt Tierney

I am an unabashed fan of the Juke. I liked it and its funky looks from the start when I first saw photos and I think it looks even better in person. This car is right up my alley as a small hatch/wagon/SUV-type vehicle. The back seat might be a bit too cramped for realistic duty in my family with two kids in car seats, but I could see this as a second car to use in a pinch as long as we keep a bigger car like our Honda Odyssey around.

The biggest obstacle would be the car’s polarizing looks -- inside and out. I love it. My wife? Not so much. Even my older daughter took issue with the painted center console, “What’s with the red, Dad? Mom will NOT like that…”

I think it’s great, and while I liked the contrasting candy apple red inside our charcoal gray Juke, I think the black leather and gray console/trim of our previous Juke SL test car was preferable. The instrument cluster looks sharp with its little visor and the climate controls are highly styled but clear, easy to use, and easier to reach than in the Cube.

Outside, I love the front end and the view over the hood with the bulging lenses, and the rear hatch and taillights are reminiscent of a Volvo C30 -- which is a compliment. Entry and egress into the back seat through the narrow doors is a bit of a challenge with that tiny door sill, but I suspect for most buyers this is a front-seats-only vehicle 90 percent of the time.

I found myself longing for a stick shift in this car only because I enjoyed the 6-speed of the front-wheel-drive model, but Phil is probably correct that the CVT is a better fit, and to get all-wheel-drive you don’t have a choice.

I’d opt out of the $800 navigation system in this car, with its tiny screen, and go for an aftermarket unit for a fraction of the cost. Much as I think the car could use the stainless exhaust tips, $1300 for a sport package to get them seems like a waste. These wheels are plenty sporty and I wouldn’t miss the spoiler that rounds out the package.

As an aside, when I left the garage yesterday I was face-to-face with a Pontiac Aztek, and I had to laugh at the similar -- yet completely unsuccessful -- styling of the heavily-ringed headlights and “up-top” turn signals of that car versus the Juke. I suppose Pontiac should be given credit for the attempt…

Matt Tierney, Art Director

New Car Research

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