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Small hatchbacks and crossover SUVs typically prioritize mundane things like practicality and fuel economy. But these days, there are choices on hand to satisfy car shoppers with more whimsical leanings. One of the more dramatic examples of this is the Nissan Juke.
This four-door cross between a hatchback and small crossover SUV comes with no shortage of personality. It all starts with the Juke's polarizing styling. Some find it sporty-looking and distinctive, while others have compared it to a horned lizard. We'll leave it to you to form your own opinions. But with endearing attributes such as brisk performance and sharp handling, you may find yourself falling for this funky ride.
Current Nissan Juke
The Nissan Juke is similar in size to some of Nissan's other small cars such as the Cube and Versa. But its taller profile and available all-wheel drive can also make it seem similar to some small crossover SUVs.
Under the skin, the Nissan Juke packs a few surprises. A small 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, but thanks to turbocharging, it cranks out a strong 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. The Juke Nismo is equipped with the same engine, but here it has been tuned to produce 197 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices are either a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). With the optional all-wheel-drive system, the CVT comes standard.
There are four trim levels for the Juke: base S, well-equipped SV and SL, and the sport-themed Nismo. Standard equipment on the entry-level S model includes 17-inch wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system. The midrange SV adds a sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, automatic climate control and configurable drive settings (the Juke's "I-Con" feature).
The Juke Nismo is slightly more powerful and also has a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels with summer tires, unique exterior and interior styling details, and front sport seats. A Navigation package with a touchscreen interface, a rearview camera and a Rockford Fosgate sound system is optional for the SV and Nismo. The SL reverts back to the SV's equipment but comes standard with the options listed above, plus leather upholstery and heated front seats.
In reviews, we've found that the Nissan Juke is very fun to drive. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine is energetic and is capable of brisk acceleration. With the available I-Con driving settings, the driver can also vary the engine and CVT's responsiveness greatly. Get the Juke on a serpentine stretch of road and it's in its element, happily shooting from corner to corner thanks to its sporty suspension tuning and big (for a car this size) tires.
On the downside, the Juke does give away some practicality in its quest for style and performance. On rougher pavement, the Juke feels a little stiff-legged compared to its family-oriented rivals. The cabin also fills with a fair amount of wind and road noise on the highway, though most buyers should find it tolerable enough.
There's also a cargo-capacity deficit to deal with, since the Juke has much less room behind the second row than most other small crossovers or wagons you might consider. Additionally, its sloping roof line translates into tight headroom for backseat passengers and poor outward visibility.
Ultimately, though, young drivers (or the young at heart) who are less concerned with practicality than having fun should find a lot to like in the Nissan Juke.
Used Nissan Juke Models
The Nissan Juke debuted for the 2011 model year. The Nismo arrived for 2013, as did a revised Navigation package that added a rearview camera and Rockford Fosgate audio.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Nissan Juke page.