by mltabarez on Aug 26, 2014 Vehicle: 2014 Nissan Juke NISMO 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I nicknamed it "The Ugly Duckling" because my first instinct was to NOT buy it.
However, my husband and son fell in love with it and I agreed because it's a Nissan (this is our 5th Nissan) and a manual (I hate automatic cars).
My husband drove it exclusively for the first month until I tried it out.
I refuse to give it back!
I've been driving for more than 40 years and this car is the BEST I've ever driven.
It has incredible power, amazing maneuverability, and is good on gas.
There are NO blind spots.
Really grabs the road.
Arguably the automotive equivalent of a teenager with piercings and a mohawk, the 2014 Nissan Juke practically screams "Look at me!" Of course, whether you like its styling is a matter of personal taste. But there's no denying that this crossover-themed hatchback stands out among its rivals.
Core to the Juke's appeal is its fun-to-drive nature. Most cars with a similar price can be rather bland, but the Juke's standard hardware -- which includes a feisty turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a sport-tuned suspension and precise steering -- provides surprisingly responsive and engaging performance. All-wheel drive is also available, and that's a rarity among small hatchbacks. On the downside, though, rear passenger space is cramped and cargo capacity simply pales compared with larger, more conventionally styled competitors.
If those practical concerns have you jettisoning the Juke from your test-drive list, you should consider something from the more sensible side of the hatchback/crossover SUV realm, such as the 2014 Kia Soul, 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman or Scion xB. More traditional small hatchbacks like the Chevrolet Sonic, 2014 Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Golf are also worth a look. Ultimately, though, buyers who prioritize fun over practicality may well find the Nissan Juke an affordable way to turn up the corners of their mouths while turning more than a few heads.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Nissan Juke is offered in four trim levels: base S, well-equipped SV and SL and the top-of-the-line Nismo.
Standard equipment on the entry-level S model includes 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, keyless entry, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio input jack.
The midrange SV adds a sunroof, rear privacy glass, keyless entry/ignition, automatic climate control, upgraded upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio and driver-configurable settings ("I-Con") for throttle, steering and transmission (with the CVT) responsiveness.
The optional Navigation package gets you a touchscreen navigation system (based on an SD card) with a rearview camera and traffic info, plus an upgraded Rockford Fosgate audio system with a subwoofer and a USB/iPod interface.
The SL comes standard with all of the above plus automatic headlights, foglights, leather upholstery and heated front seats.
The Nismo is slightly more powerful and also has a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, unique exterior and interior styling details, and front sport seats.
Other options include a Midnight Edition package (black-themed exterior color details), a Premium package (chrome door handles, mirrors and side molding) and an Interior Illumination package (accent lighting and illuminated door sill plates).
Powertrains and Performance
Under the hood, the 2014 Nissan Juke features a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that sends 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. The Juke Nismo has the same engine but it's tweaked to produce 197 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque.
A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard on the S and SL trims. The SV and Nismo offer a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or the CVT. All four trims can also be had with all-wheel drive, an option that requires the CVT.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Juke with the CVT went from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, an impressively quick time for this category. An all-wheel-drive model was essentially just as quick. Curiously, though, a Juke Nismo we tested with the manual transmission was slower, with an 8.1-second 0-60-mph time.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is 29 mpg combined (27 mpg city/32 mpg highway) with front-wheel drive and the CVT. Opting for AWD drops those numbers to 27 combined (25 city/30 highway). The manual-shift Juke rates 27 combined (25/31).
The 2014 Nissan Juke comes with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Juke stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance for a small car. The Nismo, with its summer-rated tires, was better at 114 feet.
In government crash tests, the Juke received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with three stars for total frontal-impact protection (four stars driver, three stars front passenger) and five stars for total side-impact protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Juke scored a "Good" rating -- the highest possible -- in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. The Juke's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Nissan Juke's cabin is nearly as aggressively styled as its exterior. There are a lot of organic curves and body-colored surfaces, while silver accents add cheerful ambience. But there's no shortage of hard plastic surfaces, reminding you of the car's budget price tag. On the other hand, the Juke's controls are large and easy to operate, and the cabin features lots of thoughtful storage compartments.
The front seats are comfortable, with substantial side bolsters well suited to enthusiastic driving. A steering wheel that tilts but doesn't telescope can make it harder for drivers to get comfortable, though. A shortage of rear headroom makes the backseat best for kids.
The Juke's cargo area offers just 10 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 36 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down. In comparison, the Kia Soul's cargo capacity numbers are 19 and 61 cubic feet, respectively.
When it comes to performance, the 2014 Nissan Juke has multiple personalities. With the I-Con settings in the Eco mode, acceleration is leisurely while fuel economy is maximized. In the Sport mode the driving experience is noticeably more lively, though gas mileage naturally suffers.
Meanwhile, the Juke's nicely weighted steering and firm suspension work together to deliver surprisingly engaging handling. The ride quality is passable over smooth pavement, though the Juke's ride feels stiff-legged compared with its more family-oriented crossover rivals. There's also noticeable wind and tire noise at highway speeds, though most buyers should find it tolerable given the car's sporting bent.
The Juke Nismo doesn't feel much different from the regular-strength Nissan Juke. With an increase of only 9 hp, acceleration is the same, and indeed, the Nismo clocked a bit slower than a standard Juke in our testing. The Nismo Juke's sport suspension, paired with grippier summer tires, makes it slightly more entertaining to drive around tight turns, but again, the differences are slight.
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