2011 Nissan Juke SV AWD CVT, New York CIty, January 2011
The 2011 Nissan Juke small crossover is a one-of-a-kind vehicle. Its extroverted styling, turbocharged engine, and comfortable interior go a long way toward giving this five-door hatchback a jolt of pizzaz that no subcompact economy car could dream of.
Once you're past the styling, it's full of clever details. We especially liked the I-CON control system, for example, which remaps several of the center-stack control buttons and the full-color secondary display screen that shows vehicle operating data. The default is to use them for Climate control, but push the "D-Mode" button and the orange buttons change to white, offering a new set of options: Normal, Sport, and Eco modes.
It rides and handles well, makes a comfortable distance car for two people (and a tolerable one for four), and the high seating position makes it feel larger inside than it actually is. The Juke's main drawback, in our view, is absymal gas mileage for such a small car. We didn't even see 23 mpg over a 300-mile road test that included substantial Interstate mileage.
All Juke models are well equipped, though adding all-wheel-drive and such options as navigation, a better stereo, and leather seats can push the price toward $25K.
The base Juke S trim level, with front-wheel-drive and a six-speed manual, starts as low as $18,980. Our 2011 Juke SV AWD CVT (that's what the sticker said) carried a bottom line of $24,260, which included the mandatory $750 destination charge.
The 2011 Nissan Juke is aimed at a 25- to 30-year-old male audience of educated, early professionals who Nissan calls "aggressive attention-seekers." That means they'll be comfortable with the many stares the polarizing style of this short but high mini-crossover will generate.
Its most awkward angle is from the front, where the headlights are mounted so low in the bumper apron that they read as fog lamps. Above them along the fender crowns are raised clear-plastic "blades" that include the turn signals. At night, the driver can actually see the front signals flashing on their leading edges.