2012 Nissan Juke

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The good: handles well. Interesting interior, turbo engine standard, All-Wheel Drive available.  Bluetooth and a USB port are standard.

The bad: Turbo lag, harsh noisy ride.

The ugly: The front-end, but you may find that after awhile it kind of grows on you.

2012 Nissan Juke

Lately Nissan has been building some rather odd looking cars. First there was the cube, now the Juke. The cube, while a funny looking thing, has some redeeming qualities. It gets excellent gas mileage (around 35mph) and has a very roomy interior with wide comfortable seats and excellent visibility. The Juke lacks the cube’s good qualities and has the bad ones in spades. It is uglier than the cube, the ride is harsher and it gets poorer mileage. Also, visibility from inside the Juke is limited. Yet the Juke has been selling very well, and the cheaper cube has been a disaster; go figure.

Nissan refers to the Juke as a “Sport-Cross” and it does handle more like a sports car than a SUV. The tight suspension and the small turning radius makes for a vehicle that is much larger than a MINI Cooper yet handles almost as well.  Unfortunately for passengers, that great handling comes at the price of a very harsh ride.  The Juke’s steering is quick and responsive providing the driver with good road feel.  Still, other sporty cars, such as the Volkswagen Golf, somehow manage to offer excellent good handling without inflicting quite so much punishment on the driver and passengers.

You would expect the Juke to be quick given its turbo-charged 188-horsepower engine but it doesn’t feel quick. The culprit is turbo lag. You step on the gas in the Juke and it seems like several seconds pass before any acceleration occurs. In reality the lag time probably isn’t more than a second, maybe even less, but if you are used to a more responsive engine the Juke’s turbo lag is very noticeable.

The Juke features an attractive, motorcycle inspired interior.

The interior of the Juke is one of its bright spots whereas the exterior… well the less said the better. The back and sides of the Juke are interesting and kind of grew on me, but that front-end, no matter how hard I try, is ugly. On the other hand, the Juke’s motorcycle inspired interior is interesting and unique. The console surrounding the gear shift lever is shaped like a motorcycle gas tank and the dashboard gauges look like the gauges found on some cycles. Chevy has given the interior of the new Sonic a similar look but Nissan has done it better. In some cars the hard, shiny color coordinated plastic on the console might look cheap but in the Juke it works. Overall, it makes for an attractive, fun look.

Another nice thing about the Juke is that it is available with All-Wheel Drive. That, combined with the relatively high ground clearance, makes for a vehicle that should handle well in wet or snowy weather. Unfortunately the All-Wheel drive comes at a cost. Not only does All-Wheel drive add about $1750 to the sticker price, it also takes away a couple of miles per gallon. Even with the Juke’s continuously variable transmission, the gas mileage suffers. Still, the Juke gets better mileage than most SUVs and if the stiff ride and the turbo lag don’t bother you it will be fun to drive.

Interior space in the Juke is limited. The driver’s seat and the front passenger’s seat are roomy enough, comfortable and supportive, but the back seat is pretty tight. Also, storage behind the rear seat is limited.

The Nissan Juke; change the front-end styling, fine tune the ride, and it could be another MINI Cooper — small, not to expensive and a lot of fun to drive.

If you have any questions about the Juke, feel free to leave a reply.  I try to answer questions within 36-hours, often sooner.

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