Full 2013 Nissan Cube Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Nissan Cube is virtually unchanged, except for the lineup being streamlined to leave just two trim levels.
With its boxy shape and asymmetrical window layout, the 2013 Nissan Cube looks as if it came straight from Tokyo's Ginza district. Indeed, the Cube is one of the most distinctive-looking vehicles on the road today. And whether you like that look will probably be the biggest influence on whether you decide to buy one.
Styling aside, the 2013 Nissan Cube has some appealing qualities. With its agreeable ride quality and roomy seating, the Cube is a solid commuter car. Add in its reasonable price and healthy number of standard and optional features and you have an eye-catching set of wheels that could work as well for an 18-year-old college student as it does for her retired grandmother.
But there are some significant downsides, including unremarkable handling, a noisy cabin at freeway speeds and below-average fuel economy. There's also a good bit less room behind the rear seats than you'll find in some other four-door hatchbacks. As such, other small hatchbacks or wagons are likely going to work out better for you on a daily basis. Popular choices include the more versatile 2013 Honda Fit, the roomier Scion xB and the funky-yet-practical 2013 Kia Soul.
Even after auditioning these alternatives, though, you may find that the Cube, by sheer virtue of its style, has won you over. And that's just fine by us.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Nissan Cube is a five-passenger compact wagon that's offered in just two trim levels: S and SL.
The entry-level S model's list of standard features includes 15-inch steel wheels, rear privacy glass, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, driver and front passenger armrests, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, full power accessories, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
Stepping up to the SL gets you 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry and automatic climate control. More importantly, the SL can be upgraded with the Preferred Option package, which includes foglights, a touchscreen navigation system, a rearview camera and a premium Rockford Fosgate sound system with satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface.
A variety of personalization accessories -- including an aerodynamic body kit, distinctive wheels and a shag-carpet dash-topper -- are also available on all models.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive Nissan Cube is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that puts out 122 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on S models, while a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is available as an option on the S and comes standard on the SL.
In performance testing, a Cube with the CVT went from zero to 60 mph in 9.7 seconds -- an average time for a subcompact car. EPA-estimated fuel economy, however, is pretty mediocre for a subcompact at 27 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined with the CVT and 25/30/27 with the manual.
The 2013 Nissan Cube's list of standard safety features includes antilock brakes (disc front, drum rear), stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
In crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Cube earned the top rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
If you believe different is good, you'll like the Cube's passenger cabin. From the ripple pattern embossed into the headliner and speaker grilles to the available 20-color mood lighting, the interior is nearly as unique as the exterior. What's more, all this attention to form doesn't get in the way of function, with gauges and controls that are easy to see and intuitive to use.
Up front, the seats are fine for daily use but their comfort fades on long trips. The tall roof line gives the rear seats enough head- and legroom for even tall passengers to be comfortable. At just 11.4 cubic feet, cargo space is a bit tight with those 60/40-split rear seatbacks up. Fold them down, however, and you get a cargo hold with a fairly flat load floor and a total of 58 cubic feet of room.
On the road, the 2013 Nissan Cube isn't exactly a powerhouse, but ? aided by its CVT ? its 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is lively enough to satisfy most buyers. The suspension is tuned for a comfortable ride, though this results in unexciting handling. The Cube's most noticeable negative quality is its wind noise at highway speeds, which can grow tiresome on a long trip.