Used 2013 Nissan Juke NISMO Review
Edmunds expert review
It might not be love at first sight, but a drive in the 2013 Nissan Juke will have you seeing the inner beauty of this feisty hatchback.
What's new for 2013
Like the teenager wandering around the mall with the bright orange hair and the nose ring, the 2013 Nissan Juke practically screams "Hey, look at me!" Whether that's a good thing is a matter of personal opinion. That said, there's no denying the fact that this small crossover stands out in a sea of competitors.
There also little argument over the Juke's performance credentials. Its turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces brisk acceleration, while the precise steering and sport-tuned suspension deliver better handling than you might expect of a vehicle of this type. Fuel economy is even decent, at least when driven conservatively.
The Juke has several significant downsides, however, including a couple that may well be deal-breakers for a lot of folks. First there's the, ahem, exuberant exterior styling, which is one of those polarizing love-it-or-loathe-it designs. Inside, there's a cramped backseat and a positively tiny cargo area.
If these shortcomings are enough to put you off, we suggest having a look at some of the Juke's slightly more sensible competitors. In the stylish-yet-practical crossover realm, the Kia Soul, Mini Cooper Countryman and Scion xB deserve consideration. There are also a number of more traditional small hatchbacks that are worth a look, including the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Golf.
Ultimately, though, buyers who are less concerned with practicality than having fun may well find the Nissan Juke an affordable way to turn a few heads.
Trim levels & features
The 2013 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 the Integrated Control (I-Con) system that allows you to select Normal, Sport and Eco (Economy) settings for throttle, steering and transmission (with the CVT) response. The optional Navigation package gets you a touchscreen navigation system (based on an SD card) with a new rearview camera and real-time 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 Juke 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 Sport package (rear spoiler, stainless-steel exhaust outlet and unique wheels), a Chrome package (door handles, mirrors and side molding), a Midnight Edition package (black-painted wheels, spoiler and mirror covers) and an Interior Illumination package (accent lighting and illuminated door sill plates).
Performance & mpg
Under the hood, the 2013 Nissan Juke gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-4 engine that sends 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. 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.
A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard on the S trim. The SV and SL offer a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or the CVT. The front-wheel-drive Nismo comes standard with the same six-speed manual. All four trims can also be had with all-wheel drive, in which case the CVT is the only transmission offered.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Juke with a 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 stands at 27 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and the CVT. Opting for the manual transmission or AWD will drop those numbers down a couple of mpg.
The 2013 Nissan Juke comes with a long list of standard safety features including antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. 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 frontal-impact protection (four stars driver, three stars front passenger) and five stars for side-impact protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Juke scored a "Good" rating -- the highest possible -- in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.
When it comes to performance, the 2013 Nissan Juke has multiple personalities. With the I-Con settings on 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.
The rest of the Juke's hardware shines on a winding stretch of two-lane asphalt, where the nicely weighted steering feel and firm suspension work together to deliver surprisingly engaging handling. The ride quality is passable over smooth pavement, though this utility feels a little stiff-legged compared to its family-oriented rivals. The cabin also fills with a fair amount of wind and road noise, though most buyers should find it tolerable enough.
The Juke Nismo offers an extremely similar driving experience. With an increase of only 9 hp, acceleration feels almost exactly the same. The sport suspension, paired with grippier summer tires, makes the Juke Nismo slightly more entertaining to drive through turns, but again, the differences are slight.
The 2013 Nissan Juke offers a passenger cabin that's nearly as ambitious-looking as its exterior. There are a lot of organic curves and body-colored surfaces, and silver accents add cheerful ambience. But there's no shortage of hard surfaces, since this is meant to be a sporty sort of environment. To its credit, the Juke's controls are large and easy to navigate, 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 may make it harder for some drivers to get comfortable, though. A shortage of headroom makes the rear seats best for shorter adults and kids.
The Juke's cargo area offers just 10 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 36 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down. To put these numbers in perspective, the Scion xB's cargo capacity numbers are 21 and 70 cubic feet respectively.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.