Full 2014 Nissan Cube Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Nissan Cube carries over unchanged.
While many small hatchbacks and wagons promise good fuel economy, usable cargo space and affordable prices, maybe that's not enough for you. Some shoppers want a bit more style, and that's where a funky-looking car like the 2014 Nissan Cube comes in. Indeed, your gut reaction to the Cube's boxy shape and asymmetrical window layout will probably have the biggest impact on whether you decide to buy one.
Apart from its styling, this four-door wagon offers several positive attributes. Base versions of the Cube come equipped with must-haves like Bluetooth, air-conditioning and cruise control, so you don't have to pay for expensive options to make it livable for daily commuting. Further, the rear seats both recline and slide fore and aft, which is useful on days that you're carpooling. Ride comfort is another of the Nissan Cube's strong points, and thanks to its small size, it's highly maneuverable in crowded cities.
However, there are also a few significant drawbacks to the Cube. Fuel economy is disappointing for a car of this size, and that, along with its mediocre handling and noisy interior, detracts from its desirability on road trips. You'll also find that the wagon's seats aren't that supportive on longer drives and luggage space is lacking if you've slid the rear seats rearward to maximize passenger comfort.
If you're not smitten with the 2014 Nissan Cube's design, there are better options in this price range. The redesigned 2014 Kia Soul is an appealing alternative, as it has similarly offbeat styling along with a roomier interior, more powerful engines and sportier handling. The Scion xB is a long-time Cube rival, and although it doesn't fare any better in the fuel economy department, it's more desirable if you need space more than anything else. Finally, for shoppers who don't mind something more conventional, the Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta are great options, as they're both more fuel-efficient and more fun to drive, and have nicer interiors to boot.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Nissan Cube is a small, five-passenger wagon that's offered in two trim levels: S and SL.
The entry-level S model's list of standard features includes 15-inch alloy 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 phone connectivity 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 and entry, automatic climate control and rear heating ducts (under the front seats). More importantly, the SL can be upgraded with the Preferred package, which includes foglights, a 5-inch 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, accent lighting and a shag-carpet dash-topper -- are available on both the S and SL.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive Nissan Cube is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 122 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on S models. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) takes the place of a conventional automatic transmission, and is optional on the S and 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 28 mpg combined (27 city/31 highway) with the CVT and 27 combined (25/30) with the manual.
The 2014 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. A rearview camera is optional on the SL trim.
In Edmunds testing, the Cube came to a stop from 60 mph in 124 feet -- an average distance for a subcompact.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Cube earned the top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
If you believe different is good, you'll like the Cube's 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 high roof line does open up enough head- and legroom so that even tall adults can get comfortable in the backseat. At just 11.4 cubic feet, cargo space is tight when those rear seats are occupied. Fold down the 60/40-split rear seatbacks, though, 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 2014 Nissan Cube isn't exactly a powerhouse, but aided by the available CVT, its 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is lively enough to satisfy most buyers. The suspension is tuned for a comfortable ride, but the trade-off is so-so handling that borders on sloppy compared with the newer wagons and hatchbacks in this price range. Another downside is its wind noise at highway speeds, which can grow tiresome on a long trip.