2011 Nissan Juke SL AWD: Thick Hips
February 16, 2011
I agree with my colleagues who've already weighed in on the Juke: it's a fun, whippable little pod that somehow feels bigger and stronger than you'd expect. It's got quick reflexes and the CVT works with the turbocharged 1.6-liter better than that marriage might suggest (our experience with the Nissan Rogue CVT predisposing us to bias).
For some folks, the exterior styling ends the discussion. Can't say I blame them. Then again, I'd echo Niebuhr's Sonata sentiments on the Juke. Props to Nissan for presumably designing without reams of focus group insights. Why is it we moan the collective invisibility of the CamAccorLexMW's plying the roads, but then turn around and cap on models that poke at our tolerances?
Then again, a turd is a turd, and bad design can't simply be dismissed as bold experiment. But the Juke is not a turd. It's amphibian. It's Na'vian. Look at that thick slab of hips. The Juke feels like a car built with only a sketch idea of its buyer. Someone beyond the basic youth consumer profile who might gravitate to the styling, performance, tech interfaces, and the low/mid $20k price points (base MSRP on a Juke S is just under $19,000; our loaded long-term comes in just under $26,000).
Sure, some of the interior feels brittle and cheap. Some of the pieces look like they came from guys who do car audio installs for spring break events. But the seats are nice, especially in leather. For city dwellers, the Juke is a snap to park and slingshot around trawling obstacles. But most of all, it's simply got some character and its performance doesn't suck.
-Dan Frio, Automotive Editor